IRVINA LEW

Travel Writer & Author

Category: Portugal (Page 1 of 2)

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon Review

After World War II, Portuguese Prime Minister Salazar established a prestigious hotel in Lisbon and appointed Queiroz Pereira to direct the luxury project, dedicated to promoting and preserving Portuguese art and culture. The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon’s classic, mid-century Modernist structure — enhanced by more than 400,000 square feet of rare marble — achieved that vision.

French interior designer Henri Samuel created a sense of place by mixing straight-legged Louis XVI style with Art Deco pizazz and showcasing art from a cadre of local luminaries, including the notable Portuguese artist José Almada Negreiros. In 1956, Almada was commissioned to make a trilogy of handmade Centauros tapestries — the eye-catching backdrop of the lobby lounge named for the artist.

Since 1997, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts managed the property, where park-facing rooms and the Varanda Restaurant overlook the lush Edward VII park.

© Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

VARANDA RESTAURANT © FOUR SEASONS HOTEL RITZ LISBON

I had lunch there on my first visit to Lisbon in November 2016. Even before I learned about Executive Chef Pascal Meynard’s gastro-local policy, it was evident Portuguese produce and products, including sea salt and olive oil, accessorized the dishes. I became an immediate fan of his simple, elegant fare and couldn’t wait to return for dinner in May.

Before dinner, I enjoyed Perrier Jouet served in a slim, engraved Champagne glass and enjoyed the posh, timeless setting, with its zebra-striped and studded leather chairs, mahogany bookcases and window walls leading to the terrace.

Brito, the maître d’, welcomed me to the Varanda — a traditional room with coffered ceilings, huge chandeliers, and amazing floral displays. I chose the four-course Signature Menu, which included eight choices, during which Sommelier Gabriela Marques chose wines, including prominent local samples and Port from the hotel’s 300-bottle selection.

Dinner began with an inspired two-bite snack, which arrived on a wooden plank; an amuse-bouche of a delectable raw clam on a half-shell atop a bed of sea salt; and a bread course with chorizo butter and herbed lemon butter. An artfully presented prawn centered a plate accompanied by white asparagus, crispy tomato bits and a pesto drizzle. Foie gras and black truffle sauce topped the Irish beef a la ficelleentrée, and the pre-dessert, dessert and après-dessert mignardises were handcrafted by Chef Patissier Fabian Nguyen.

I also experienced an exceptional facial in the subterranean spa, which boasts a light-filled indoor pool and access to an outdoor terrace and park views.

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon offers a variety of special services, including a popular Sunday brunch, a tea inspired by Almada, a street art tour and a day-long excursion to Sintra, which sits atop a pine-studded hillside.

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

Rodrigo da Fonseca 88
1099-039
Lisboa, Portugal
tel 351 21 381 1400

 

See original review
Global Traveler

Pousada de Lisboa Review

Lisbon hosted its first Web Summit last November, and my daughter Jen Lew, a high-tech social media strategist & web designer, was one of 53,000 attendees. When she invited me to accompany her, I offered to book accommodations, always a challenge during major events. The fortunate resolution was a stay in one of only 90 rooms at the culturally significant and comfortable Pousada de Lisboa, opened in June 2015. Though I had never stayed at a Pestana hotel, its affiliation with Small Luxury Hotels of the World assured me, and I booked four nights in the restored art-filled building.

 

Pousadas are nationally protected and preserved properties within Portuguese castles, convents, palaces, monasteries and historic buildings. In this case, the stunning edifice formerly housed the government offices of the former prime minister and dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. It is one of 33 Pousadas the Pestana group updated and transformed into hotels with amazing character.

Architect Jaime Morais retained many of the original 18th-century architectural elements, including high ceilings and a stunning staircase, and added modern bathrooms, a fitness center and the Magic Spa featuring an indoor pool, sauna, Turkish bath and a variety of body and beauty services.

Location is one of the hotel’s major advantages, as the front door opens on the important Praça do Comércio — Lisbon’s major downtown water-front plaza facing the Tejo River. While some rooms view the iconic São Jorge Castle, ours — a large, elongated corner space on the second floor with a seating area — faced the square, bordered by golden-hued buildings and outdoor cafés. It is also home to The Wines of Portugal tasting room. Just outside the hotel door — amidst cyclist-driven tuk tuks and tiny touristic vehicles — I wiggled into a sidecar and had a great time zipping around with a guide.

For breakfast, we ate in the light-filled solarium, and at night we dined under the curved brick ceiling at Lisboeta, a well-regarded restaurant where Chef Tiago Bonito —Portugal’s 2011 Chef of the Year — reigns. When I returned to Lisbon in May, I discovered a new and more casual dining venue: RIB Beef & Wine, a popular steakhouse.

Pousada de Lisboa

Praça do Comércio 31-34
1100-148 Lisboa, Portugal
tel 351 21 040 7640

 

Written for Global Traveler

TAP Portugal Review

In September, TAP Portugal’s cuisine consultant, Chef Vítor Sobral — a celebrity TV chef and cookbook author — will introduce the Taste the Stars programThe project presents authentic, locally sourced Portuguese meals developed by five Michelin-starred chefs, to be served in TAP’s business and economy classes.

TAP also launched a stopover program, offering travelers up to three days in Lisbon and/or Porto at no additional airfare before heading to the Algarve, Madeira, the Azores or 60-plus other European or African destinations. It’s an ongoing promotion with 150 partners, including the Michelin-starred chefs and their participating restaurants. Passenger benefits include a bottle of wine, substantive land discounts and complimentary experiences.

I experienced the Lisbon stopover in May during my trip to Faro — the popular airport in the Algarve along Portugal’s sunny southwestern Atlantic coast, which attracts beach and golf vacationers. Since November 2016, which marked my first flight with TAP, I’ve flown trans-Atlantic flights between Lisbon and both John F. Kennedy Airport and Newark International Airport, and domestic flights between Lisbon and both Porto (OPO) and Faro (FAO). Three of those seven segments were in economy and four in business class so I have a variety of recent experiences. TAP also flies from Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA) and Toronto (YYZ).

TAP Portugal

TAP PORTUGAL CHEFS

My favorite business-class lounge was in Lisbon, very inviting, even for a long layover. The chairs along the window wall had footrests, making it ideal to read with the light coming in over my shoulder. Most of the seats were adjacent to electronic towers with two plugs and tables, which were nice for eating. There were spacious showers in the lavatories, a glass-enclosed smoking space, and ample food and wine choices. Since my last flight in May 2017, TAP opened a brand new and more spacious lounge.

Each flight was pleasant, easy and uneventful and the staff members — from the check-in agents to the flight attendants — were courteous, warm and hospitable. This was particularly true of the gate agents on our first outbound flight from JFK around midnight when the New York crew arrived late.

All travelers are offered fine chocolates and wine, and business class features a selection that includes Port and Madeira wines. Global Traveler has recognized the airline for the quality of its wines.

My business-class flight from Lisbon in May featured fully flat beds on the Airbus A330 aircraft. Of the 80 aircraft in the fleet, 16 are A330s. It had an extra-wide storage pocket, underfoot storage, a side shelf, a large entertainment touchscreen with headsets and a fold-up table with linen cloths. A plush pillow and oversize quilt contributed to an easy sleep.

All of the meals were graciously served and well received on my flights, and though I haven’t yet experienced the Michelin-starred chefs’elevated in-flight meals, I can personally vouch for the culinary expertise.

TAP Portugal

New York (JFK)–Lisbon (LIS)–Porto (OPO); Lisbon–Faro (FAO)

Read More on Global Traveler

Lisboans Flock to New and Trendy Food Halls

Located in old palaces and modern structures, the halls offer food stalls and wine tastings

On my first day in Lisbon, I sampled Portuguese wines from the Douro and Alentejo regions at the Wines of Portugal tasting room on the Royal Square (Praça do Comércio-Terreiro do Paco) just across from the Pousada do Lisboa, (a Small Luxury Hotel affiliate), where I was staying. The wines in the waterfront showroom were displayed according to individual regions, just as the restaurants in the food court venues are separated according to menus.

That evening, I met a colleague at the Palácio Chiado, a stunningly restored eighteenth-century palace, which served as a residence, library, museum, and Institute of Decorative Arts before falling into disrepair. It reopened in 2016 as an opulent food court, with seven different wining and dining spaces, including the city’s most beautiful sushi bar, which is also claimed to be the best.

That evening, I met a colleague at the Palácio Chiado, a stunningly restored eighteenth-century palace, which served as a residence, library, museum, and Institute of Decorative Arts before falling into disrepair. It reopened in 2016 as an opulent food court, with seven different wining and dining spaces, including the city’s most beautiful sushi bar, which is also claimed to be the best.

I also visited the Time Out Market, twice, which the folks at the magazine reconstructed within the original Lisbon marketplace Mercado da Ribeira. The Time Out staff selected each of the local purveyors and chefs who represent the region’s best. The first time, I arrived as a side-car passenger after a tour during which the English-speaking cyclist-guide zipped around and up and down some of Lisbon’s seven hillsides and purchased fresh croquettes at the croqueteria and perfect Portuguese pastéis de nata at the custard tart factory. I returned when I discovered that the railroad station — from which I traveled to and from the seacoast village of Cascais — was directly across the street. I ordered a “signature” seafood Francesinha de atun (a tuna, beef, crab meat, onion, and shrimp dish) by Marlene Vieira, the only female among the top chefs in Time Out’s stable. Although it was overly sauced for my taste, I divided it among the new “friends” who shared the community table, and they loved it unabashedly.

There is much to love in Lisbon, from topography to Beaux-Arts (and contemporary) architecture; from ceramic azulejo tiles, art museums and fado music to the fabulous food courts, which offer multiple opportunities to sample the city’s culinary excellence.

Read More at The Daily Meal 

 

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