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great escape to Príncipe Real

The party is in full swing. The DJ is on the decks, the small dishes of bacalhau circulate, the guests dance and shout. The atmosphere is good for the inauguration of the new Mama Shelter hotel in Lisbon, located between the streets of Príncipe Real and Avenida da Liberdade. The white city was one of the last strongholds in Europe not to benefit from the advantages of the chain founded by the Trigano family. It’s done, and all the codes of “Mama” are there: five-star bedding but affordable prices, cool welcome, punchy designs on the ceiling, pop decor, table football, pizza oven, superhero masks on the bedside lamps… All embellished with more local touches, such as the ceramic fish signed Bordallo Pinheiro.

The icing on the cake, this “Mama Lisboa” has a postcard-perfect roof top with a 360-degree view of the White City and a well-known brunch every weekend. But above all, it is an ideal base for discovering Príncipe Real. Initially frequented by the gay community, this rapidly emerging district now welcomes restaurant owners and young designers.

To soak up its arty spirit, we will begin the visit with the new gallery of Frenchman Alexandre Neimann, Barracuda Interiors, which features stunning pieces of furniture from the late 19th century to the 1980s (Rua do Vale de Pereiro, 8A), before heading to the Jardim botânico, a bucolic temple where you can take a nap in the middle of fragrant jacaranda trees. A stone’s throw away, the Praça do Príncipe Real, picturesque and shaded, is the spot to drink an espresso sitting in the shade of a kiosk. It’s hard to imagine that under this square hides a water museum.

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The Embaixada concept store, at 26 praça do Príncipe Real, housed in a magnificent Moorish-style palace

The first reservoir in the city’s distribution network, the Reservatório da Patriarcal was designed in 1856 by French engineer Louis-Charles Mary. With its pillars ten meters high, the place, open to visitors, is impressive. The must, go there on Friday evening to listen to a fado concert: the acoustics are worth the trip. We will then hunt for vintage clothes in El Dorado (rua do Norte, 25) before heading towards the streets Dom Pedro V and da Escola Politécnica, where there is a succession of small shops selling design and decorative objects.

The art of antiquing: advice from Sophie Fontanel

But the most spectacular concept store in the area is undoubtedly Embaixada, at 26 praça do Príncipe Real, housed in a magnificent Moorish-style palace. At lunchtime, going back down to the Tagus, a stop is essential at André Coelho and Marta Caldeirão, the duo at the head of the new restaurant Âmago, a pocket handkerchief where you can enjoy Portuguese dishes revisited with finesse and modernity (rua da Alegria, 41C).

More traditional, the Antiga Casa Faz Frio is a tasca (popular canteen) which has hardly changed since its creation in 1918 (street Dom Pedro V, 96). And if you prefer to picnic in the sun, head to Parque Eduardo VII. From there, you will reach the Calouste-Gulbenkian Foundation and its masterpieces in a few steps. Finally, to immerse yourself in the Lisbon art of living, we will end the evening with a movie and a glass of vinho verde at the bar of the Cinémateca Portuguesa (rua Barata Salgueiro, 39).

The charming spot: the Alma Lusa hotel in Baixa

Going down towards the Tagus, in the more touristic district of Chiado/Baixa, the Alma Lusa hotel is a charming stopover nestled “Praça do Municipio”, on one of the prettiest squares in Lisbon. Owner Miguel Simoes De Almeida and architect Giano Gonçalves worked together to restore the splendor of this beautiful aristocratic building with a clever mix of old and designer touches. We love the old tiles, the lights from the British brand Astro or the retro-chic wallpaper by Andrew Martin. The same spirit in the 28 rooms with the handmade boutis and their stone fireplace covered with a background of Portuguese mosaic. In the kitchen, it’s at the table of the Delfina restaurant that it happens with classic but beautifully executed dishes.

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From €145 on Booking.com and www.almalusahotels.com.

Go

With Transavia from Paris, Montpellier and Nantes. From €75 round trip. transavia.com

Housing

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Mama Shelter: pop decor, top cuisine, great brunch. DJ on the weekends. From €90 per room. Rua do Vale de Pereiro, 19. mamashelter.com/lisboa

Mama Shelter Hotel
Mama Shelter Hotel

eat there

Crouton, for gourmet pizzas served only in the evening, and prepared by Francisca Farinha. Sao Bento Street, 337A.

Panificadora Marquise: one of the best bakeries in town opened by Cristiana Vieira. Right next door, a tea room and a Scandinavian decoration shop. Rua Nova Piedade 29-33.

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To report

Earthenware and azulejos from Solar, Ali Baba’s cave not to be missed. Rua Dom Pedro V, 70. solar.com

Azulejos from Solar in Lisbon
Azulejos from Solar in Lisbon

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