I like nothing more than being pleasantly surprised when it comes to my hometown of Lisbon, Portugal. And nothing makes me happier to see local hotel brands (Porto Bay is originally from Madeira, Portugal and is connected to the Blandy family, the largest winemaker in the region) really pushing the boat and creating something quite unique. Here is how my stay at the recently opened Porto Bay Liberdade hotel went.
– Was there any pre-arrival communication by the hotel with myself via email or social media?
There was indeed. This has been a brand that has followed me for quite a few years and I was actually delighted to finally get to try it.
– Did I try to engage the hotel via Twitter? Did the hotel interact with me and made me feel welcome/special?
I did, and they were on top of their game, despite my stay having taken place over a weekend (some hotels still believe social media is a Monday-Friday job, which isn’t the case).
– Has the hotel tried to gather any personal information (e.g. preferences) prior to my stay?
No, but then again, I had no special requests as per normal.
– The wow factor! What was the hotel decor style?
We meant to drop our luggage before actually checking in as we had some errands to run in town, and at that very moment, there was no bellman outside. Once I got inside which our suitcases (Mr. O was double parked), I was promptly helped by the reception team who came outside to give us an extra hand.
I quickly looked around and thought the space was lovely. The hotel decor was really quite different than what I was expecting – with lots of unique pieces and I really liked it.
The hotel is a new development of a collection of old buildings in one of Lisbon’s most important business and tourist areas – I am aware of the building restrictions and issues and I have to say, I was surprised with some of the facilities the hotel managed to ‘squeeze in’.
– How quick and efficient was the hotel check-in?
Once we returned to the hotel again (I had said my name before, of course), the reception staff had the keys ready. We showed our passports (which is a very interesting Portuguese hotel requirement, where copies are taken – and happens randomly around the world, but we kind of knew of course it would happen) and left our credit card for any extras.
We were escorted to our room and given a little tour of the facilities – which was important as otherwise we may have not imagined that we were to find so many surprises.
– Was I addressed by name once reservation has been located? (it is all about the small details, some others are outstanding with this, and I love it, like I do when I board an airplane)
I was (and it is always a comical moment when I am address as Sra. O’Reilly in Portugal, which still sounds very strange after so many years). I have been Sra. Silva all my life. I was also very grateful that they understood my husband did not speak the language and always spoke to him in English (and with me too, to make it easier). This doesn’t happen often, and I appreciated the gesture.
– Did I get an upgrade from my confirmed pre-booked room type?
I was confirmed in a deluxe room, and that is what I got.
– Did I feel genuinely welcomed by the hotel staff?
Very much so – we were actually impressed with how good the staff were throughout my stay. It was good to see.
– Luggage – how many people did I have to tip before the luggage made it safely to my room? This is cultural, I know
Our luggage was sent to our room during the time that we dropped it and arrived again in the afternoon.
– Wi-fi – was I told anything about it? Was there a charge?
Wifi was free and the codes were provided.
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
Our room was really quite cozy (rooms are not very large at the hotel), but tastefully decorated. We also had a separate seating area, as well as a little balcony overlooking the back of the hotel. I preferred to be on this side as I would not get any noise from traffic, etc.
– Welcome amenity
We had a bowl of fruit and water.
– The bed
The bed was very comfortable – and the pillows were very good. There was a pillow menu available but we didn’t need any extras. The bed linen was also lovely.
– Closet/Wardrobe – proper hangers or those annoying ones where you need a PhD to get them out one by one? This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand them.
All good in this department, although we had to ask for more hangers (which were brought whilst we were in the spa).
– Iphone Charger/Dock
Even better, and I think it is time to update these reviews – the item to look out for will be a USB socket. And I am delighted to announce that yes, the hotel had them.
– Bathrobes and slippers
Indeed, but we did not use.
– Coffee and Tea
There was a Delta (which is Portugal’s leading coffee brand) pod-operated machine, which was great to see. We did not use it.
– Free bottled water
– Magazine selection – had some nice surprises and doesn’t happen often enough!
It wasn’t anything to write home about – there was Essential Lisboa which is quite good if you are from out-of-town but nothing else.
– Power sockets in useful places – we have more and more devices and we know where we want them! By the bed, by the working area.
We couldn’t find any by the bed per se, but we had the USBs at the desk, so we charged our phones there. No problem at all.
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
The bathroom was actually not small at all – and very nice.
– Bath, shower and taps – I am looking for Duravits and Hansgrohes (or other fab brands) around the world. How fab was the shower? And a little pet peeve.. was I able to operate the shower without asking Mr. O for help?
Oh yes, the hotel spent money on these items and the whole fit out was excellent. As I said on the photo caption above, very rarely we have a shower which is as good as what we have at home. This time around, it was like as if we were home. Great shower.
– Towels – yes, please! How many and how soft and lovely?
No problems here.
– Toiletries – own brand, super brand, baby ones or proper ones? I shall find out!
I was surprised to see Rituals, which is a well-known brand in Europe (and quite popular in Portugal) whose products I actually really quite like. Very rarely you see them in hotels, so it was good. The products are very good. They were presented in small-sized bottles.
– Amenity kit – I don’t want more sewing kits thank you very much, but I will need a shower cap.
Everything, and quite nicely presented.
– Hairdryer – is it a human one, or just something stuck to a wall that only makes noise?
I did not use it, but the hairdryer looked very ‘real’, which is good news.
Breakfast was… excellent! This is where I am completely biased (and you will understand – I can, because it is my blog!). I am Portuguese and everything I missed and could want was there – from a simple selection of cheese and hams, many types of bread (including God’s bread which is something you need to try when you go) and custard tarts of course. I was like a little kid in a candy store – obviously there were eggs and bacon and other things catering to international visitors. But my husband only tried the Portuguese specialties too :)The hotel has a quite well-known restaurant which we did not get to try, as we had already made plans to see friends. But quite a few friends have been (non-hotel guests) and said it was excellent.
Spa & Pool
One of the nicest surprises, was indeed, the spa. I was not expecting to see an Aromatherapy Associates spa at the hotel (it is one of my favourite brands and I love their spa concept). We both had a message each and I thought the whole experience was excellent – I had the ‘ultimate aromatherapy experience’ for 50 minutes (priced at 95 Euros) and really enjoyed it.
We also got to try the pool – which was quite large but sad we did not catch some rays in the outdoor area (no time).
And as an extra treat, guests can enjoy a rooftop terrace which also has a bar.. and a hot tub! And I have to say, excellent Gin & Tonics, served in proper glasses! It really was lovely.
– How good and reliable was the wi-fi?
Excellent and no issues during our stay.
– Did the hotel interact with me via Twitter during my stay?
Indeed and we had a bit of fun.
The hotel is located just off Lisbon’s main street, Avenida da Liberdade. I thought it was an excellent location, close to all the designer shops and very easy to get to and from.
– Cost – rooms starting from…
The best surprise – rooms start at 120 Euros per night, which is excellent value for money.
– Would I recommend it to my best friend?
Without a doubt. Since I stayed in July (and shared my experience via social media), quite a few readers have tried the hotel and were very pleased.
– Would I stay again?
Without a doubt. I felt like I found a little oasis in the centre of town and wished we stayed for more than 3 days. There is always next time.
Have you visited this hotel? What were your thoughts?
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Porto Bay Liberdade during this stay, but hopefully you will see that this has not influenced my thoughts about the property.