Hotel Britania – Lisbon’s beautiful art deco heritage

Michael Edwards visits historic Lisbon and stays at the beautiful art deco Britania Hotel.

Hotel Britania in Lisbon
Hotel Britania’s facade is classic art deco.

Considering that it is only the shortest of strolls to one of Lisbon’s most exclusive avenues, Hotel Britania is a serene oasis of peace. Quietly tucked away on a quiet tree-lined side street, this art deco hotel is a three-minute walk to the nearest metro station. 

Hotel Britania preserves the best of traditions, creating a refined club-like ambience. As a boutique hotel with a mere 32 rooms and one suite, staff quickly anticipate the needs of the guests. So much so that the Britania took a Conde Nast Johansen Award for Excellence in 2021. And it has a soft spot for British guests too: Moulton and Brown toiletries in the bathroom, pots of tea and jugs of milk available for breakfast. 

Hotel Britania Superior Room
Chic, spacious and perfect for your city break.

Designed for a more elegant era, the hotel first opened in 1944. Every en-suite room has an entrance hall, lit by a small chandelier, leading into a generously proportioned bedroom. 

Back in those World War ll days, when neutral Lisbon buzzed with diplomats, journalists, spies, traders and writers, the hotel lured guests with luxurious gizmos. Every room had a radio, telephone and typewriter. The former barber shop, now a mini museum, recalls those heady days. 

Barber shop

The typewriters are long gone and a remote control for the air-conditioning is the latest gizmo. Restored to their original decor, the rooms have burnished cork floor tiles, contrasting with light cream walls. 

The hotel’s restaurant that once hosted Graham Greene, Henry Miller and the Lisbon Literati closed long ago. Now, chefs focus solely on a lavish buffet breakfast, headlined by sparkling wine, served in the library and bar area. It is an event that lasts from 7.30 am to noon. 

As the metro is so close, a Lisboa card, giving unlimited access to buses, metro, trains and trams is a wise investment. The card includes the train that runs along the Costa da Caparica to the resorts of Estoril and Cascais. Lisbon is a city where visitors can alternate lazy days on the beach, days exploring Portugal’s cultured capital and nights at Estoril’s casino. 

Belem is a popular stop on the Cais do Sodre to Cascais train line. The Monument to the Discoveries records a remarkable period of history when Portuguese caravels sailed the world: west to the Americas and east to the Indies, with only the sun and the stars to guide them. 

historic neighborhoods
Walking Lisbon’s old neighbourhoods offers some fantastic views of the city.

Across the Belem Marina lies the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) a remarkable white curvaceous twisting dome of a creation. In complete contrast, its brick-built neighbour is a former power station where industrial innards are on display alongside contemporary art exhibitions. Belem gives spectacular views of the 25th April bridge, crossing the wide River Tagus. The name celebrates the overthrow of the dictatorship in 1976. Nearby stands Lisbon’s towering Christ the King Sanctuary.

Guests of the Britania and also of the four sister properties cared for by Lisbon Heritage Hotels, have free entry to four of Lisbon’s top museums. On showing their hotel key card guests can view the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (antiquities), the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea, the Museu Museu Calouste Gulbenkian and the Fundação Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva. 

Fado
Fado is an unavoidable phenomenon in Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods.

Fado, songs about sorrow and struggle, is another of Lisbon’s artistic highlights.  Recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural asset. Ofaia Restaurant is an intimate venue proving a traditional Portuguese menu and three sets of Fado. 

For centuries, fadistas, accompanied by acoustic guitars, have sung of lost love, of hardship, of poverty. But this is not self-pity, there is a brave resilience to the songs which have elevated fado to an art form.

Lisbon, from the picturesque meandering narrow lanes of hillside Alfama through to the uber-contemporary architecture of the MAAT is a city as packed with culture as the cans of sardines Portugal produces. Right at its centre, at its artistic heart, the Hotel Britania makes for a refined base to enjoy the city’s charms.

Learn more at Hotel Britania

For more information about accommodation and pricing, see Hotel Britania.

To learn more about the city of Lisbon, its history and tourism, see Lisboa OFFICIAL Site.

If you enjoyed Michael’s review of Hotel Britania, you’ll find more European city break reviews on our Travel channel.

Tags: , , , , , , Last modified: February 20, 2022

Written by 2:21 pm Europe • One Comment

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