Disclaimer: In exchange for this hotel review, I received a stay in Lisbon, Portugal in one of the Olissippo Lapa Palace’s Garden Wing pool rooms.
Located in the posh embassy-filled Lapa district of Lisbon, the hotel grounds date to 1870, when a local viscount first had the building built for his son. His son disapproved – perish the thought – so in 1883, it was sold to another count, who turned it into a palace. The Olissippo Lapa Palace only became a hotel in 1988.
The hotel isn’t close to a Metro station, but it’s near useful (to downtown) buses and trams. The neighborhood, as mentioned above, is exclusive, and that partially explains why public transport is hit-or-miss. However, I took both the bus to and the tram from the old downtown, and both were quite fine.
Upon entering the hotel, my first impression of the lobby was that it was clean, variegated, and airy. However, service was a bit stiff – perhaps even arrogant at times – until staff realized that I was a guest. Even then, it wasn’t the most hospitable, and responses felt stilted.
A bellhop showed me to my room. Unnecessary, but my hotel contact was unavailable that day, so he showed me around the hotel. As welcoming and bright as the room was, there were a few issues. Firstly, the air conditioner was pathetic, and only seemed to cool the area directly in front of it.
Also, there was no universal outlet (I have gadgets from all over the world, so whipping out multiple adapters is always cumbersome). Not to mention, when you press the master switch, everything but one random light in the room went out. When I left my phone to charge overnight, because I flipped the master switch, the phone actually lost power. Oftentimes, certain outlets (e.g. fridges) aren’t on the master switch “grid,” but in this room, they were all taken.
On a positive note, the bathroom had a cool, locally-influenced design (think blue and white tiles), and the room had a terrace which overlooked the outdoor pool and garden.
Portuguese sweets (from left): pastel de nata (egg tart!), and two that aren’t pastel de nata…ok ok, travesseiros (pillows) de Sintra, and pampilhos de Santarém. They also offered fresh fruit and two bottles of water. (What, no delicious Douro Valley wine?)
Buffet breakfasts are always high on my list of priorities (for certain hotels), and the buffet at the Olissippo Lapa Palace was middle-of-the-line. At first glance, the spread looked small, but on closer inspection, there were decent offerings, as well as the best mango I’ve had in years.
As it was another beautiful October day in Lisbon, I opted to sit outside. Again, service was underwhelming, but I was satisfied with the vegetables, salmon, and granola, and a demitasse of Earl Gray tea. As seems to be a theme at breakfast buffets, obnoxious guests aren’t the fault of the hotel, but good acoustics might be.
Ultimately, whereas the Olissippo Lapa Palace has its regal charm and quiet location, I never felt too welcome at the hotel. It could have been my age, or unenthusiastic employees, but I might have to get a bit older before paying a repeat visit. Still, I’d go there for a drink or tea, because the setting and district are pleasant.