A regal portrait, an intricate carpet and a Santa y Cole chandelier. This is the scene that greets guests as they enter Memmo Príncipe Real. It's a fitting welcome to a hotel with a name that means "Royal Prince", and to the first five-star offering in Memmo Hotels' crown.
But it's also a welcome to a neighbourhood (also named Príncipe Real after Queen Maria's first-born son) which is moving away from its aristocratic past into a vibrant and creative future. This is an increasingly on-trend corner of Lisbon, where tranquil gardens and 19th-century mansions rub shoulders with some of the best bars, restaurants and shops in town. A good example of the confluence between old and new can be found in Memmo's restaurant and bar. Named Colonial Café, the place takes inspiration from Portugal's former colonies, with menus that arrange world ingredients with modern flair.
In the evenings, a grown-up crowd come to lounge on moss-green sofas and dine on on marble-topped tables. Come morning, the hotel's views over the Tagus River steal the show. The white-walled and red-roofed cityscape of Lisbon contrasts with the jade waters of a swimming pool - not quite large enough for laps, but plenty big enough for cooling off in the summer months.
During the day, however, Memmo Príncipe Real is markedly quiet. Guests that swim before breakfast and sip cocktails after dinner all head out to explore Lisbon between hours. This is surely a sign of a city hotel done well.
There are 41 rooms here, of which 39 overlook the city. All have a neutral palette and make use of natural materials, including warm limestone, white wooden floors and antique painted tiles. Faux fur bed throws seem to be a tongue-in-cheek reference the district's regal past and we love the fact that housekeeping leaves a different tip for the local area under a hat in your room each day.
What's for breakfast?
An à la carte offering of breads, pastries, cold meats eggs cooks to order..
How about lunch and dinner?
Chef Vasco Lello is at the head of Colonial Café, which serves dishes inspired by the flavours of former Portuguese colonies. Start by sharing a plate of ox-tail croquettes before moving on to the Asian cod in miso butter with shitaki pakchoi. Finish with a mousse of chocolate from São Tomé in Brazil.
Is there a bar?
Yes - it stretches out alongside one side of the restaurant, perfect for quaffing Rio Douro wines with a view.
Free wifi, Hermes products, a swimming pool, a complimentary one-hour walking tour around the local area and a welcome drink.
Things you should know
This is a rather adult hotel - perhaps not one for children (or childish friends). For a more accessible option in Lisbon, check out Memmo's hotel in Alfama.
Within a short walk you can find…
Taberna da rua das flores, a tiny, cash-only, no-reservations taverna with serves exquisite dishes to share - we love the mackerel pate and crab bao buns.