01. Introduction: Why the hell is Edelweiss Air so expensive?
02. Condor 767-300 business class San Diego to Frankfurt
03. Hilton Frankfurt Airport
04. TAP Portugal A320 business class Frankfurt to Lisbon
05. Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade
06. 4 important things every first time visitor to Lisbon should know
07. TAP Premium Lounge, Lisbon Airport
08. TAP Portugal A330-200 business class Lisbon to Toronto
09. Sheraton Gateway Hotel Toronto International Airport
10. Air Canada Rouge A321 economy class Toronto to San Diego
One of the downsides of travel for me has always been arriving in a new city early in the morning, tired and weary, and not being able to check into the hotel. I’m generally a pretty light packer and I never have more than just a backpack with me anyway, but it’s hard to enjoy being in a new place if I have to lug that thing around everywhere. All I want to do is dump it so I can get on with my day, and not have to worry about ending up with tweaked back by early afternoon. This was exactly what I was thinking about as I walked into the lobby of the Sofitel Liberdade here in the heart of Lisbon at 9 AM.
As I stood there waiting, I was praying with all my might that they would have a room ready and available for me so that I could drop my things and freshen up before heading out and playing tourist all afternoon. As a matter fact, I thought for sure that was exactly what was happening as the very friendly receptionist was checking me in. She seemed very cheery and happy, very welcoming, and never once told me that there were no rooms available at any point during the check in process. It was only at the very last moment, just as she was handing me a map of the area, that she casually slipped in the fact that I could come back at 2 o’clock to collect my room keys. Darn it. So close, but yet so far.
Despite not having a room to go to at this early hour, I was still very much impressed with this hotel within those first few minutes. The location, as far as I could tell, was pretty much perfect and right in the center of everything. This being my first time in Lisbon, location was probably more important to me than anything else. The Sofitel Liberdade shines magnificently in that regard.
I was also very much impressed with the professionalism and kindness the entire front desk staff. They were all extremely cheery and happy, and very eager to make sure that I felt welcome and that I had everything I needed for a perfect stay. And even though they didn’t have a room available for me at that time, they were quick to offer to store my backpack and suggested a list of things that I (a first time visitor to the city) might enjoy doing for an afternoon. I very much appreciated that, and ended up having a very nice morning and early afternoon on the streets of Lisbon as I waited for my room to become available.
I arrived back at the hotel around 2:30 PM with sore feet and a slightly tweaked back, which made the anticipation of checking in seem all that much stronger. The room could’ve been a complete dump for all I cared – all I wanted was air-conditioning and a nice comfy chair to sit in for little while.
As you can see from the pics, this was actually a pretty nice room with a strong Portuguese flavor to it. I can say that I honestly wasn’t expecting a room with so much local flair to it (this being a chain hotel and all), and I found it to be very comfortable and the perfect homebase for my first ever visit to this city. An added bonus was the fact that it was really quiet, despite being on one of the busiest streets in town. Thankfully I had a room on the opposite side of the building which overlooked a quiet alleyway didn’t see much action. Suffice to say, I slept like a baby that night.
My only criticism of the room is that it seemed a bit dark and dreary. I’m not a big fan of dark and mysterious hotel rooms, but that’s kind of what this one felt like. Nothing will ever top the Park Plaza hotel in London for feeling dark and dreary, but this one comes a bit too close for comfort IMHO. At least I had a window to the outside world in this room and I could actually see the sky. Just slightly.
The verdict? The Sofitel Liberdade is an excellent choice for first-time visitors to Lisbon due to its proximity to a majority of the local sights. It’s also located on one of the main streets running through the city, which I enjoyed walking aimlessly up and down several times just soaking in the local culture. Bars, cafés, and restaurants are plentiful in this area and all within walking distance – and if you stay here, I’d advise you to bring a good pair of walking shoes. There’s just so much good stuff to see in every direction of this place and you’re probably going to want to see it all.