As we approach Monday 16th January 2023 (this year’s Blue Monday) I get the feeling that a lot of people out there are experiencing the blues. Christmas has come and gone. The box of chocolates is no more and even the penny toffee left over sweets have been siphoned off by persons unknown.
Quite a few people choose to fly off to sunnier climes, if they can afford a holiday after the expense of Christmas. Others take to the slopes for some skiing. The gossip at quite a few of the popular European slopes is that there is very little snow out there – as yet. This can, of course, change in the twinkling of an eye and an overnight accumulation of the white stuff can do wonders in presenting the picture postcard of the perfect winter holiday.
As my attempts at skiing don’t merit a specific winter holiday in a brisk cold country a better option is a city break, preferably one that wouldn’t take hours to fly to.
This year’s January Blues chosen destination is a capital city that oozes charm, culture, good food and friendly locals and is not a million miles away. Lisbon in Portugal is my choice of location to banish those January Blues. There are several airlines that fly direct from Dublin: Aer Lingus; Ryanair and TAP. The flight time is less than 3 hours so really it is a doddle of a trip. To make it a decent holiday break I would advise 3 to 4 nights. There are lots of things to see and do in the Lisbon plus it also offers the opportunity to visit some nearby rural locations on a day trip.
The most important thing to do in advance is to book your accommodation. I can highly recommend the Hoteles Heritage Lisboa group of small historic boutique hotels; also listed as Lisbon Heritage Hotels. There are five hotels to choose from, all located in Lisbon This very unique group of hotels is owned by Manuel Duarte Fernandes and his family. Manuel is a consummate hotelier and you are guaranteed to be staying in an upmarket hotel that will be excellent in every respect. These hotels are very impressive and the buildings are of superb architectural merit.
Heritage Avenida Liberdade is located in the heart of the city close to the shopping centre. The building dates back to the 18th century and has been sensitively modernised whilst retaining some of the original features such as the blue and white Pombaline tiles. There are 42 rooms making this a cosy enclave for discerning guests.
There are 29 rooms in the AS Janelas Verdes, another beautifully restored 18th century townhouse, which cleverly incorporates an interior garden and spiral staircase into its authentic individuality. Its location is beside the River Tagus. It is also adjacent to the National Art Museum making it an ideal spot for culture lovers. Morning coffee/tea in the library terrace overlooking the bay is just another string to its bow.
If you favour a more art deco style then the recommendation is that of the Hotel Britania Art Deco where you may feel you joined the stage of a Hercule Poirot episode – naturally without a murder victim! With just 33 bedrooms it embodies discreet charm.
The Hotel Lisboa Plaza, also located on the Avenida Liberdade, is the largest of this small group of hotels with 97 bedrooms, which have been remodelled in a traditional style only a few years ago.
By contrast the Solar do Castelo is the smallest boutique hotel in the group with just 20 bedrooms. Also considered to be the most romantic this restored townhouse is tucked within the walls of the São Jorge Castle. This is one of the most famous castles in Portugal. It stands on the highest of the Seven Hills of Lisbon and was part of the noble area of the medieval citadel, which, besides the castle, included the royal palace (Paço Real) and residential quarters of the elite, whose houses are still visible on the archaeological site.
Regardless of which of these five hotels you choose you will be guaranteed a personalised stay in a city buzzing with activity. You might be tempted to enjoy some sneaky retail therapy. It would also be an opportunity learn a little about Portugal’s historic past as the home of the great explorers Vasco de Gama and Henry the Navigator. Finally, the weather has to be better than at home!