Wednesday, 12 September 2012 9:45 AM
John Hunt discovers another Travelbite 'hot spot' - the Four Seasons Hotel in Lisbon
Four Seasons Hotel Lisbon is located in the north-east tip of the city centre, with a downhill walk of about 10 minutes taking you into the heart of town.
It’s a large, rectangular building that overlooks a park and while the building itself (built as a Ritz Hotel in the 1950s) won’t win any awards for aesthetic appeal, the central location and situation amongst the park’s greenery is ideal.
When we stepped through the doors, it would not be over-egging it to say that we were transported into a cocoon of luxury. Check-in was an interactive experience where – having just arrived in Lisbon – we were given a map, directions and tourism advice by the receptionist. This set the standard for the level of service which was to become a hallmark of our visit.
Up to the room then: a double ‘Superior’ room with a balcony overlooking the park and the city skyline beyond. It featured a marble bathroom, minibar, flatscreen TV (with loads of international channels), CD/DVD player and all the other mod cons. It was large and very elegantly decorated. Wired or wireless internet was available, and fast, but carried an additional charge.
The level of décor throughout the hotel, like that of the room itself, was exceptional. This was also mirrored by the services and amenities available at the hotel. On the top floor there was a fully-equipped gym with CV equipment, weights and even a rooftop running track which, given Lisbon’s generally clement weather, is available for use all year round. Personal trainers are to enable you to get the most from your workout, which is a nice touch.
The hotel’s spa, located on the first floor, featured a large indoor pool with ceiling to floor windows overlooking the park. A full range of treatments are available here, from massages to facials to body wraps but for us, pounding the Lisbon streets and relaxing in the pool at day’s end were sufficient.
We dined at the hotel’s high-ceilinged and light Varanda restaurant. To start, I had crayfish risotto (seafood featured prominently on the menu) while she had cheese ravioli in a buttery lemon broth. For mains, I had lobster tagliatelle (which featured large, tender chunks of lobster under a ‘roof’ made of two broad, flat strips of melt-in-the-mouth pasta, topped with caviar) while she had a ‘traditional Portuguese seafood rice casserole’. We avidly picked at each other’s dishes while making appreciative noises about just how good the food was.
For dessert, I had Crème Brûlée and she had quark bavaroise with raspberries – nice and light, with a tangy sorbet. The time spent eating the desserts gave us, ironically, food for thought and a fair bit of discussion about whether we had ever had a better meal than that we had just enjoyed. The food was, without exception, of the very highest standard and the service completely faultless from the besuited, knowledgeable and attentive waiters. The bill, including two glasses of Taittinger champagne (for her) and two bottles of beer (for me) came to £175. For six courses of the standard we’d enjoyed, four drinks (with the two glasses of bubbly) and the superb service, this was money well spent. So did we decide if we had ever had better? Put it this way, nowhere else sprung to mind.
Breakfast was served in Varanda also, with an extensive cold buffet of breads, meats, cheeses, cereals and the like. Hot options were cooked to order and, again, service was faultless with fresh orange juice and ice-cold sparkling mineral water being regularly topped up by the ever-attentive staff. On all three mornings she went for the cold option while I had an omelette with rosti potatoes. These were so good that this is the only time I’ve been moved to leave a tip at breakfast.
Further amenities include a ground-floor bar where I had a couple of beers (c.£9/pint for the local pilsener) and if you have work to do, a staffed business centre with free computers, printing, soft drinks and additional services.
I could wax lyrical about Four Seasons Lisbon to the extent that you’d begin to wonder if I was in its employ, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this place is really, really special with top marks across the board in every respect, especially the levels of service.
Four Seasons is a high-end product and, as a result, it doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay from £330 per night for a double with breakfast. I can say without doubt that – certainly as a ‘treat’ for those of us who don't make a habit of staying in five-star hotels on a regular basis – it’s definitely worth the money.
One minor grumble that I feel duty bound to mention. This is not a cheap hotel, it’s a luxury hotel with service levels, amenities, food and beverage, and prices to match. For that reason, the WiFi, while free in the business lounge, should really be free in the rooms, not an extra. That aside… perfection.
By John Hunt
http://www.fourseasons.com/lisbon/Fore more information visit the Four Seasons Hotel website.