Arrival/Check-in: Our TAP flight from Porto brought us to Lisbon well before check-in time. The apologetic receptionist saw that our luggage was swiftly stowed and invited us to have a complimentary drink on the hotel’s top-floor terrace while our room prep was expedited. We had just time to enjoy a glass of wine and the view over the Tagus River before a bellman arrived to escort us to our room. His thorough tour included placement of all the light switches and the location of the complimentary umbrellas. He made his smiling exit before we could reach for euros. (30/30)
Guest Quarters: Our deluxe room was not palatial, but it was bright and beautifully decorated in shades of peach, terra cotta and olive. Glass doors opened onto an iron-grilled demi-balcony. Below, a vintage yellow tram circled busy Praça Luiz de Camões in the heart of the Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s charming old hillside quarter. We wondered if the room might be noisy at night, since this is one of Lisbon’s liveliest areas, but the double-glazed doors sealed out every sound. The room was filled with thoughtful details — ample luggage stands, big closets with plenty of hangers, high-count sheets, soft robes, LCD plasma TV, DVD player, WiFi, mini-bar and safe. The central section of a cleverly designed desk lifted to reveal a large mirror, turning the desk into a vanity. A tall modern lamp illuminated either very well, and an outlet was handy for hairdryer or laptop. Bedside reading lights were well placed, and a comfortable chair faced a small, low table. The blue-and-cream tiled bathroom was large, with a deep tub, shower, French-milled soaps and plenty of thick towels. (29/30)
Services/Amenities: One of the best things about staying at Barrio Alto Hotel is having an inside track for a table reservation at Lisbon’s hottest restaurant, Flores. From the appellation-controlled butter and the amusebouche of skate and ratatouille in fine olive oil to the steaming espresso served with monogrammed chocolates, dinner there was superb, the service flawless. Porco Preto — Portugal’s signature breed of pork — was served with porcini in a semi-architectural cascade as artful as it was delicious. Although Flores is a tough act to follow, we retired to the stylish roof terrace for after-dinner drinks as city lights flickered on. A smart café-bar and a lounge were other options, the latter with music and both with separate public access to preserve the tranquility of the hotel lobby. (40/40)
The Experience:The abundance of bellmen (luggage is whisked off instantly and taxis appear out of thin air), 24-hour concierge and the general air of what-can-we-doto- make-you-fall-in-love-with-Lisbon makes this 55-room boutique hotel a pleasure. The location is central to dining, nightlife and attractions in the center of the city.
BAIRRO ALTO HOTEL
Praça Luiz de Camões 2
Lisbon 1200-243, Portugal
tel 351 21 340 8288
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
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Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city of Greece and the most important center of the area. Built near the sea, elegant and refined, the Greek “Lady of the North” is a modern, vivacious city that welcomes visitors eager to learn about its history and culture, and at the same time have fun, relax, go shopping or simply explore the cityscape by the sea.