Saturday, January 21, 2017

Portugal: The Hotels

Looking for hotels can be a really fun or really frustrating part of a trip. For our Portugal trip, it was fun! There were a ton of options, so it took a bit of time and research to make sure we were ending up somewhere decent, but within budget. Our budgets were low for Portugal (we were shooting for $800 for the 8 nights), and we had no trouble sticking to our budget! We spent more in Lisbon, but were able to make up for the pricier Lisbon hotels with cheaper Lagos, Sintra and Porto hotels. Here's where we stayed and what we thought of each place!

Our room with a balcony at the Hotel Florida in Lisbon!

We stayed at two hotels in Lisbon - one at the start of our trip and one at the end!

Hotel Florida (TripAdvisor reviews)

Cost: 110/night for a standard room with breakfast, 130/night for a standard double room with breakfast
Location:The location of this hotel is good. It's close to the underground (Marques de Pombal station), which was great for getting into the center of Lisbon, but you will have to switch trains when coming from or going to the airport. It's also close to ATMs and restaurants.
Rooms: The rooms are good, a bit larger than many hotel rooms in Europe. The bathroom is also nice and big, and our room had a rather large balcony as well. Our double bed was two twin beds pushed against each other, but the beds are comfortable.
Service: The staff was friendly, the breakfast is decent (be sure to get the espresso hot chocolate!), the wi-fi is good, and check in and check out were very easy.
Would we go back: Maybe. This hotel was the priciest we stayed at, and we liked the other hotel that we stayed at in Lisbon a bit more. But it was in a good location and there weren't any reasons we didn't like it.

Elevator at the Hotel Florida!

Evolution Hotel (TripAdvisor reviews)

Cost: $93/night for a "COOL" double room (no breakfast)
Location: The location of this hotel is fantastic! There's an underground station (Saldanha station) a two minute walk away with the line that runs to and from the airport, and it is also within a 5-8 minute walk of the Avis/Budget rental car office we used. It's also about a 10 minute walk to a great laundromat and a quieter area of Lisbon where we got an amazing picnic lunch for two for about $8. Since the underground is so close, it was super easy to get into the center of town and to the airport the morning we departed.
Rooms: The rooms are definitely interesting. The bed was super comfortable and our room was very clean and quiet, but the setup is very "modern" with kind of crazy tube containers for the shower and toilet instead of a traditional bathroom. If you don't mind this and you're close with whomever you're traveling with, it's not an issue. But there is a distinct lack of privacy, so be aware before you book!
Service: The staff is very friendly and helpful, upgraded us to a "SUPER COOL" room and let us check in slightly early! They are also able to hold bags for folks if they arrive before their room is ready. Check in was super easy, and check out was automated, so we had no issues!
Would we go back: Absolutely. The toilet and shower were a bit off-putting at first, but the location and the features of the hotel balanced it out.

Our "SUPER COOL" room.

 The toilet pod.

The shower pod.

Tivoli Lagos (TripAdvisor reviews)

Cost: 102/night for a classic double room with breakfast
Location: The location is decent. It hss a free parking lot close by, which was great, and there are some restaurants and bars right across the street. It's about a 10 minute walk from the main area of Lagos, and doesn't seem to be super close to the coast, though there is a bus that goes from the hotel to the beach daily.
Rooms: The rooms are fine - our bed was not incredibly comfortable and you could hear things from the other rooms pretty well, but we had a nice balcony and the hot water is good.
Service: We didn't realize when we booked, but the Tivoli hotels are a large-ish chain of hotels in Portugal. The service at the Lagos location is good, but there are definitely quirks of big hotel chains that came through - the breakfast isn't very interesting, and you have to sign up with their mailing list to get the free wi-fi codes (or you can pay for wi-fi - silly). It was also a really large hotel with a lot of tour groups.
Would we go back: Maybe, if we couldn't find something we liked more.

The early morning view from our balcony.

Sintra Bliss House (TripAdvisor reviews)

Cost: €74,25/night for a double room with breakfast
Location: The hotel was in a nice location near the train station in Sintra, and an easy 10-15 minute walk from the historic center. There is paid street parking available close by, along with a few free spots that we never managed to find.
Rooms: Our bed was comfortable, the bathroom large and the shower has great water pressure. Our room on the main floor had a large window that overlooked the interior courtyard, and there was enough space in the room to unload bags and plenty of plugs to charge up all our various devices.
Service: The service is fairly minimal at this hotel, but that's ok. There's a front desk person who mans the desk for most of the day, then there's a code you can use to access the hotel after hours.
The breakfast is tasty, and the hotel felt secure, and the free wifi worked well. Plus, there was a vending machine that carried soft drinks and beer!
Would we go back: Definitely. It checked all our necessary boxes and was an amazing deal.

View from our lovely window!

Hotel Da Bolsa (TripAdvisor reviews)

Cost: $89/night for a double room with breakfast
Location: We loved the location of this hotel - it's near the base of one of the main walking streets in Porto, and it's also about a 5 minute walk from the riverfront. There's a paid parking lot down the block.
Rooms: Our room was a bit on the small side, but it was lovely and had a nice view from the window. We were on the top floor and the ceiling in parts of the bathroom was a bit low for my 6'3" hubby, but the shower had good water pressure and the bed was comfortable.
Service: The staff was friendly and informative, the wi-fi worked, and the breakfast was quite tasty.
Would we go back: Yes. The hotel was perfect for our needs and we would return.

View from our top floor room.

Leaning out of our window gave us a view of the river!

Overall, we liked the hotels we stayed in. We liked our second hotel in Lisbon better than our first, and I'm not sure that we would stay in the Tivoli in Lagos again, but none of the hotels we selected were poor. And, we definitely stayed really close to our budget! Our total for hotels for the 8 nights we were in Portugal was about $840, which made it a very reasonably priced trip!

Catch up all of my posts on our Portugal trip here

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