Glass enjoys an elegant getaway at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, Lisbon

SITTING atop of one of the city’s famed seven hills in all its sleek modernist grandeur, the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, Lisbon is as much as an institution as a hotel – built in 1959 to put the luxury into Lisbon once and for all.

That much is evident as soon as you enter the marble lobby, where extravagant flower displays, elegant furnishings and stunning artworks compete for attention.

The paintings, tapestries and sculptures that continue to each floor put one in mind of a gallery and were in fact commissioned as part of the original vision for the hotel as a cultural focal point for the capital, if not for Portugal as a whole.

They now form one of the largest privately-owned collections in the country.

Four seasons LisbonView from the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, Lisbon

During the lockdown lull, Four Seasons underwent an extensive facelift, where great care was taken to preserve the classic 1950s aesthetic amid more contemporary comforts.

In the room I stayed in, the stylish chaise-longue and crushed velvet Art Deco chairs sat on a modish carpet bearing an abstract wave pattern, while imposing looking retro lamps could be switched on and off by a bedside electronic control panel.

The marble-clad bathroom, which had both a bathtub and shower plus mirrors galore, bore the same satisfying vintage glamour look. Most of the guest rooms have private balconies, deep and wide enough to include a table and chairs.

Mine overlooked the landmark Parque Eduardo VII but offered a sweeping view beyond of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

Four seasons LisbonRoom at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, Lisbon

A new outdoor pool and accompanying bar were also part of the upgrade. They can be found on the same level as the Spa, which includes an indoor pool, steam room and sauna.

After a tasty lunch of a traditional steak sandwich at the Varanda restaurant on the terrace, I underwent a Digital Detox massage, designed to loosen muscles stressed out from being hunched over laptops and mobiles for too long.

The candlelit surround, soft music and aromatic oils added to what was a deeply relaxing experience. For those who want something more strenuous, a state-of-the-art gym and outdoor running track are situated on the rooftop, 11 floors up, where a magnificent 360 degree vista of Lisbon also awaits.

Four seasons Lisbon

The redesign also saw the launch in December 2020 of the hotel’s latest jewell in the crown, the Cura restaurant, whose innovative cuisine speedily earned it a coveted Michelin star. Headed by chef Pedro Pena Bastos, it offers three taster menus, one of them vegetarian, using local ingredients and a tantalising combination of foods.

Each dish is a gastronomic experience, for me none more so than the tagliatelle-style squid, served with with hazelnut, bergamot, roasted seaweed butter and ossetra caviar. Don’t speak Portuguese? Não há problema!

Like all the hotel staff I encountered, the charming waiters spoke English with ease and were extremely attentive. The friendly ambiance extends to Lisbon itself, a comparatively small city that has that lost-in-time feel. The Four Seasons’ central location makes it a perfect gateway to the many tourist attractions on offer.

Interior of Cura Restaurant

I hopped on board a hotel-organised tuk tuk, a motorised rickshaw with room for several people that was able to navigate the enchanting Al Fama neighbourhood, characterised by terracotta roofs and tumbling cobbled lanes dating back to the days of Moorish rule, then on to chic downtown Chiado and past the stunning riverside plaza of Praça do Comércio.

There were plenty of stop-off points. At the waterfront district of Belém, I joined the queue to sample Portugal’s simple culinary delight, a pastel de nata – aka custard tart – at one of the best known pastry shops in the city. Perfect.

by Angela Cobbinah

Rooms at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, Lisbon start from €610 for a superior city room