I’m getting close to the end of my trip to Portugal; it’s breaking my heart.
While I’ve been exploring Lisbōa, I’ve been staying at the Alfama Patio Hostel. It’s nestled in the Alfama district of Lisbōa, on one of it’s narrow, winding streets. This building housed the first university in Portugal, before the university moved to Coimbra, and it’s said that Christopher Columbus studied here. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that it’s been a great place to stay in Lisbon.
My room is tiny, but has a great view and a good vibe. The staff are all friendly and welcoming. When I arrived on Monday I was pretty wiped out from morning kayaking, the train ride here and the uphill schlep with my (too large) baggage. When I heard that they offered dinner on the patio, I jumped at the chance to have an easy evening. The food was great; it included the tapas, salad and main dish, dessert, and all you can drink wine for 9 euros. For entertainment we had a silent viewing of Raging Bull on a projected screen with Portuguese subtitles. My dinner mates, two young French women and a brother/sister duo from Poland, and I enjoyed making heads or tails of the film.
When I checked in, the receptionist put a bracelet on my wrist to identify me as a “Destination Hostel” guest. I felt like I was arriving at a three-day festival of Lisboa! But the value of this wristband was made clear today as I wandered the city. When you’re a guest of Destination Hostels, you’re welcome to stop in at any of the other hostels in town. This means you have access to a kitchen, unlimited coffee or tea, a lounge and most importantly, a WC. Although I giggled to myself when I got the bracelet, today I was psyched to be able to stop off and take a break.
The Sunset Hostel is down on the waterfront right at the Cais do Sodré train station. It’s more modern than the Alfama Patio Hostel, both of the other hostels are, how could they not be? The 1755 earthquake knocked down most of the city except the Alfama district. The Sunset hostel boasts a phenomenal rooftop hangout space with a pool! And a dome! Despite being located at a busy train/tram/metro hub, it’s quiet and very nice inside.
The Lisbon Destination Hostel is also located at a train station – the Rossio station. It’s very urban but has a beautiful lounge and kitchen area. And a great WC.
I like them all, but I think the Alfama Patio Hostel is special. The WC on my floor, the third floor, is very tiny and the stairs to get to the third floor are crazy! I can’t believe I got my VERY large suitcase/backpack up here! So this hostel is not for everyone. Accessibility is an issue – to get to the crazy spiral staircase you have to go outside, climb a set of wooden stairs, cross the rooftop patio, step up a few stairs over a door-sill, then step down a few stairs. It’s very cool, but the other two hostels seem very comfortable, accessible and sweet as well.
I’m glad I’ve spent these days in Lisbon – I’ve got one more tomorrow, then I’m off back home. It’s a vibrant city, full of art and entertainment. It has lots of ways to get around: trams, trains and the metro as well as taxis. I wouldn’t recommend renting a car – parking is a bitch and the streets are narrow and confusing. It’s a very walkable city, so save the car rental for the out-of-town portion if you must have one.
These hostels also offer all kinds of tours to better get to know Lisbōa and Portugal – walking, surfing, bicycling, art and pub-crawls. You get so much from these hostels, yet the prices are less than regular, boring hotels. Go for the hostels.