When Big Brand Hotels Outshine the Competition

There are certain situations where tried-and-tested wins the race.

Big-name brands aren’t always the sexiest (yes, Four Seasons, Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, we’re talking to you). But if there isn’t a credible alternative in the boutique or independent hotels category, then a strong case exists for reverting to the well-known brands that deliver.

Take Lisbon as a great example. There are scores of boutique hotels, each one as photogenic as the next. Converted 18th-century palaces, vintage-styled boltholes, roof terraces with views over the skyline, lofts, apartments and all-suite guesthouses. With its cobblestone streets and quirky corners, Lisbon is indeed a city well-suited to the boutique class.

But is there one that really stacks up? We aren’t convinced.

Charming, pretty, and charismatic are all well and good. But if you can just about squeeze three hanging garments in the freestanding wardrobe, and find yourself fighting for an appointment with the single basin in the bathroom, you might find (as we did) that you’re simply better off at the Four Seasons.

Now let’s be clear, lest our point is lost along the way. Four Seasons Ritz Hotel Lisbon is not one of the brand’s finest examples. Recent renovations have seen most of the rooms upgraded (please do ask us for specific room types as this is important) but the style is pretty monochromatic and corporate. Check-in is a little arduous, the usual Muzak gives its stamp of monotony to the dining room at breakfast, everything is predictable and runs like clockwork.

Yet, having explored the city’s alternatives, there is a certain comfort in returning to the Four Seasons, with all its uniformity. Service is professional and charming; food and beverage hit the mark; there is a good city spa with indoor and outdoor swimming pools; accommodations are comfortable and well-equipped.

Located a little away from all the action and maze of cobbled, traffic-filled laneways, Four Seasons overlooks beautiful Parque Eduardo VII and is a few moments from Avenida de Liberdade. It’s an impressive outlook, despite being slightly removed, and the park is a wonderful place to walk and exercise on a warm spring day.

For the full lowdown on Lisbon, why not CONTACT and find out about becoming a private client? You’ll know by now that destination reviews are the core of the Nota Bene brand. We get it right the first time around.