A few weeks ago I joined Viking Cruises for a sailing along the Douro River in Portugal. Since it was my first time in the country, I wanted to make sure I had enough time to explore and experience everything in my own unique way, so I arrived into Lisbon a few days before the start of the cruise. This wasn’t just a nice way to see more of Lisbon, but it was also a necessary slow start so I could recover from jet lag and gently ease into my Portuguese adventure. To help me with this transition, I had the great opportunity to stay at one of the best hotels in the city – The Corinthia Hotel Lisbon – that, as I learned, was the perfect home base for my pre-cruise explorations.
About The Corinthia Hotel Lisbon
Lisbon’s 17th tallest building, the five-star Corinthia Hotel Lisbon opened in 2004, but thanks to continued renovations and enhancements I honestly thought it was a new hotel as I walked through the front doors. It’s a large hotel, no doubt there, with 518 rooms, including nearly 50 suites in a variety of styles and sizes. But it never felt like a large hotel, which is as high a compliment as I can give. Luxury is always defined by those certain intangible elements, and throughout my stay at the Corinthia I felt like an individual and not a number. Started in Malta in the 1960s, Corinthia Hotels can be found throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East and all are known for their high standards and attention to detail. I’d long wanted to visit one, and as it turns out the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon was the perfect first introduction.
The Spa & Pool
I don’t always write about spa experiences, mostly because they tend to be about the same no matter where you are. That’s not the case at the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, which is why it deserves a bit of digital ink as I share the incredible experience I enjoyed. I arrived into Lisbon late in the afternoon and I was tired and, even worse, I looked tired. I had no desire to try to take advantage of the scant hour so left of daylight and explore the city; I was far too exhausted for that. I’ve been trying to slow down more when I travel, to take better care of myself and I put that new philosophy into good practice at the Corinthia. Instead of feeling guilty for not being a tourist that first afternoon, I put on the plush robe I found in my room’s closet and ambled down to the spa.
To be clear, this is NOT your average hotel spa. At more than 37,000 square feet, this is the largest in-house hotel spa in Europe, and they make great use of every foot of space. Routinely named one of the best spa retreats in Europe, there are 13 treatment rooms offering an incredible assortment of services delivered by kind and experienced staff. But the facility is also a true retreat, featuring a large indoor pool, steam room, Vichy shower, Jacuzzis, solarium and an Aqua Therapy Facility that must be seen in order to be believed. This is a true wellness facility, encouraging guests to spend a lot of time relaxing and bettering themselves during their time at the hotel. As a recent convert to both yoga and holistic wellness in general, it was the perfect fit for my travel style and provided me with the relaxation I needed after a long day of travel.
The last decade or so has seen a remarkable shift in the quality of hotel restaurants and bars around the world. No longer the dank hideaway of the lonely businessperson, today the best hotel restaurants are indeed the best in their cities, attracting guests and locals alike. That’s certainly the case at the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon and their welcoming restaurant and bar Erva. Inspired by the unique culinary traditions of Lisbon and all of Portugal, Erva is a relaxed space that reflects the chef’s commitment to providing a delicious but not overly fussy dining experience. The space itself is a beautiful combination of rich vintage leather chairs, wood tables but also living walls of plants and vertical gardens. Erva feels fresh and bright because it is, and that environment is the perfect way to enjoy their incredible dishes. The first thing that caught my eye was the open grilling area, where chefs prepare meals with guests looking on. Not only was the food delicious, but so were the unique cocktails, all specific to Erva but inspired by timeless regional classics. My slow and easy dinner at Erva was the ideal capstone to a day of pampering and relaxation.
Location, Amenities and Overall Experience
To be honest, I was a little concerned about the hotel’s location before I arrived, but I quickly realized it was a baseless worry. The Corinthia Hotel Lisbon is an easy walk from key spots like the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon Zoo, and within easy reach of the main shopping areas, Eduardo VII Park and Monsanto Park. Even better, there is a transportation hub practically next-door to the hotel, which made it incredibly easy for me to metro to other parts of town, like the historic downtown core.
Back at the hotel, there are any number of amenities that made my stay at the Corinthia Lisbon one that I know I won’t soon forget. The rooms themselves are incredibly luxurious with no detail missing, from the plush bedding and towels to the toiletries and of course the kind hospitality from staff. I also truly enjoy Club Levels at hotels, and was incredibly impressed by the one at the Corinthia. The Executive Club Sky Lounge provides remarkable views of the city and offers a variety of food and drink options throughout the day, starting at breakfast and ending with a before bed nightcap. The Club greatly enhanced by own stay at the Corinthia, which is the hallmark of any great luxury lounge.
Based on everything I had heard, I knew that I would enjoy my time at the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, I just didn’t know how much it would impact my overall Lisbon experience. Hotels are important for me in my travels because they are so much more than a place to sleep. A great hotel will necessarily become an indispensable travel partner, not only providing a haven where I can relax, but enabling me to better experience the destination. The Corinthia Hotel Lisbon provided that and so much more, and I know it will forever be my home away from home in Lisbon.