Think next level. Then one up from that.
And that’s where Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon sits in the world of hospitality.
In Lisbon, it sits a few levels up physically from the city centre, on a hillside overlooking the Parque Eduardo VII.
From the outside, with your eyes screwed up, it could be a block of flats, but this modernist structure, built in 1959 as a property ‘to make Portugal proud’ by dictator António de Oliveira Salazar (and run by Four Seasons since 1997), is actually smothered with more than 40,000 square metres of marble.
Stepping through the glass doors held open by the immaculately polite squadron of doormen is to enter a hotel fantasyland.
Ted Thornhill checked in to Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, which sits on a hillside overlooking the Parque Eduardo VII. Pictured above is the ‘exquisite’ indoor swimming pool
‘From the outside, with your eyes screwed up,’ writes Ted, ‘[Four Seasons Ritz] could be a block of flats, but this modernist structure is actually smothered with more than 40,000 square metres of marble’
My partner and daughter and I stayed in a fifth-floor junior suite, which was sumptuous beyond estimation.
Our quarters featured a small balcony with views to the river Tagus, a jaw-dropping mostly marble double-sink bathroom with rain shower and tub; a separate loo by the front door (also mostly marble); a king-sized bed that was frankly a dream – and furniture stylish enough for a Vogue cover shoot, including a sublime grey chaise longue.
There was also a walk-in wardrobe. And lashings of luxury burnished wood.
Then there was the tranquility. With the balcony door shut, our suite was a haven of hush.
Special mention must also be given to the area outside the fifth-floor lift – which Four Seasons had turned into a modish little living room area complete with a pair of eye-popping fluffy white armchairs (see video).
Built in 1959 as a property ‘to make Portugal proud’ by dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, the hotel has been run by Four Seasons since 1997
Behold the ‘spectacular retina-popping orchid display’ in the lobby. Turn left here for Michelin-starred dining at Cura and the hotel’s Varanda restaurant
Hit the button in the lifts for the top floor and you’ll find yourself at surely one of the most unique hotel rooftop features in the world – a bright-blue running track, which loops around a huge ‘Ritz’ sign and complements a top-floor gym.
All in all, an exhilarating set-up for a fitness session. Though we visited, as I suspect many do, purely to drink in the astonishing views.
Descend to the bottom floor, meanwhile, and you’ll discover an exquisite indoor swimming pool, lorded over by striking Adonis and swordfish sculptures and peppered with luxury loungers.
There is also a sizeable outdoor pool. It wasn’t in use during our October visit, but it’s surely one of the city’s most alluring spots in good weather.
Ted stayed in a junior suite (above), which he describes as ‘sumptuous beyond estimation’
Hit the button in the lifts for the top floor and you’ll find yourself at surely one of the most unique hotel rooftop features in the world – a bright-blue running track, which loops around a huge ‘Ritz’ sign and complements a top-floor gym
The ‘sizeable’ outdoor pool – ‘surely one of Lisbon’s most alluring spots in good weather’
For foodies, the lobby level will be the biggest hit. Here the hotel lays on a magnificent breakfast buffet banquet in its Varanda restaurant and offers Michelin-starred dining in ‘Cura’ – both left-turns at the spectacular retina-popping orchid display.
At Cura we indulged in a 13-course, 185-euro (£160) ‘Origens’ tasting menu, where bread forms one of the main courses.
Pedro Pena Bastos, the Executive Chef, serves up rustic wheat bread and a loaf of milk bread for course No.7.
Leading up to the loaves were half a dozen dishes that set out Pedro’s stall as a chef of some considerable talent.
The brigade, wearing Peaky Blinders-style flat caps, kicked off proceedings by sending out a mushroom tartlet amuse bouche from the open-view kitchen. ‘Stupendous,’ I wrote in my notes.
Then came dishes that included delicate strips of mackerel with a tiny dome of the sweetest sweet potato; a perfectly formed sphere of tuna tartare with a smoked broth and green beans; and squid with toasted seaweed butter and Ossietra caviar.
Post-bread came Atlantic wreckfish, cubes of mouthwatering Iberian port and perfectly cooked pigeon with broccoli and beetroot.
The hotel lays on a ‘magnificent’ breakfast buffet banquet in its Varanda restaurant, Ted notes
Michelin-starred Cura, where Ted and his partner enjoyed a 13-course, 185-euro (£160) ‘Origens’ tasting menu, where bread forms one of the main courses
Pedro Pena Bastos, the Executive Chef, serves up rustic wheat bread and a loaf of milk bread for course No.7 (above)
Cura’s squid with toasted seaweed butter and Ossietra caviar
Every table seemed to be as thoroughly mesmerised by the Cura experience as we were, save for the table of gents next to us, who seemed more interested in watching music videos on their phones.
Sacrilege in a temple of the finest of fine dining.
The service in Cura was impeccable – as it was everywhere else on the property.
It’s a hotel staffed by consummate professionals, who delivered several memorable little moments, from ordering popcorn to the room for my daughter because she made an excited exclamation about the size of the TV to cutting the eggs for our ‘eggs and soldiers’ at breakfast.
When not enveloped in the palatial environs of Four Seasons Hotel Ritz we tucked into breakfast cereals at the Pop Cereal Café, rode the gloriously thrilling Tram 28 through Lisbon’s twisty cobbled streets, roamed the ramparts of the epic Castelo de Sao Jorge and ran around the magnificent plaza – the Praca do Comércio.
Then we enjoyed catching the subway to the nearest station to the hotel – Marqués de Pombal. From there it was an uphill walk to the Four Seasons glass-door entrance, but the thought of the lavish surroundings that awaited put a spring in our step despite the gradient. In fact, I’d haul myself up a cliff for a hotel this good.
Four Seasons – it’s still making Portugal proud.
Ted was hosted by Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, where rooms start, at the time of publication, from around £678 ($845) a night. Visit www.fourseasons.com/lisbon.
PROS: Impeccable service, gorgeous bedrooms, world-class dining, great views, unique rooftop. Four Seasons shows here that it has the art of hospitality completely mastered.
CONS: The modernist exterior, while architecturally significant, might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Rating out of five: 5.
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