Lisbon is rich with history and incredible travel opportunities but it’s changing quickly. There are of course both pros and cons to the changes and a recent article The Press and Journal titled Time travel in luxury to Lisbon highlight some of the most beautiful options in historic lisbon.
Sarah Marshall writes, “For decades, Lisbon has been trapped in a wonderful time warp: specialist shops still sell products from behind wooden counters and weathered doorways reveal historic interiors untouched for years. But now change is happening at an accelerating pace, and there’s a palpable energy in a city that’s drifted aimlessly for so long. According to figures collected by Lisbon’s tourist board, the number of visitors to the city increased by 18% from 2013-2015. To cope with the demand, there has been 150% growth in hotel openings during the same period.
Flight access is also improving; earlier this month Monarch launched flights from Manchester, Birmingham and London to the Portuguese capital. So what’s the reason behind this drastic change? It’s partly down to changes in government. Four years ago, a century-old law freezing rent charges was scrapped, sparking investment in rundown properties and a plethora of new restaurants and bars. The results could have been disastrous.
Fortunately, though, proud Lisboans prefer to preserve their past rather than raze buildings and start again. Once dominated by government offices and embassies, Rua Dom Pedro V and the Principe Real district is now filled with wine bars, fashion boutiques and design stores. Climb the wooden staircase of revamped 1800s neo-Moorish mansion Embaixada (Praca do Principe Real, 26) to find ornate interiors just as beguiling as the pop-up shops now housed inside.
The concept of upcycling was key to the design of new hotel AlmaLusa Baixa/Chiado, which occupies a former arsenal on Praca do Municipio – another area of the city enjoying a new lease of life. Director of operations Sofia Brandao shows me the original flooring – one of the few parts not to be flattened in the city’s devastating 1755 earthquake – and highlights fragments from the property’s more recent past: silver-stained mirrors from a barber’s shop hang in the restaurant, and Moroccan tiles once sold in a showroom decorate bathrooms.
“We’re offering people ‘smart luxury’,” says Sofia, referring to boutique bedrooms that look much more expensive than their 145 euro price tag. In fact, every aspect of the city offers great value for money. In April, Post Office Travel Money rated Lisbon the cheapest city in Western Europe in their City Costs Barometer.”
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