The Hedonist: Lisbon
What to see and where to be seen
Saturday 16 October 2010
The sun is rising overhead, stretching our morning shadows across the peach-hued Atlantic. A dawn chorus of house music pulsates across the sea from the DJ booth on Tamariz, a beach club in the Lisbon suburb of Estoril. Another night in the Portuguese capital swings seamlessly into another day.
Rewind 24 hours and I'm catching a very similar sunrise. After which I spend the day drinking sangrias (oddly, a trendy drink in Lisbon) and sunbathing on the all-white cushions and deckchairs at Kubo (00 351 21 393 2930; grupo-k.pt). This outdoor riverside "beach bar", with views over the Rio Tejo's estuary, is an easy place to lose a day, or weekend. Cool beats and flirtatious chatter are accompanied by the lap of the river licking the rocks below. As my skin began to crisp I decide to move on.
I make for Lisbon's chi-chi seaside suburb of Cascais and the Farol Design Hotel (00 351 21 482 3490; farol.com.pt). Here the poolside On the Rocks bar is having one of its legendary parties. Atop a rocky headland sprayed by the Atlantic, this is where matchstick models come to pose – there's even a catwalk.
I sink passion-fruit martinis around the ocean-facing pool, do a bit of rubbernecking and watch a sanguine sun slink into the sea, before heading back to the city for a pre-dinner disco-nap: a ritual etched into Lisbon's schedule.
I'm staying at Hotel Bairro Alto (00 351 21 340 8288; bairroaltohotel.com), well positioned near the bars of the boho Bairro Alto district. The restored 18th-century hotel is a slick affair of gold and black with cloud-size beds. My wake-up call is at 9pm and before I know it, I'm sinking a caipirinha in the piano bar.
I've spent a lot of time at Largo (00 351 21 347 7225). Designed by Miguel Câncio Martins (of Paris's Buddha Bar fame), the dining room is set in a series of cavernous brick arches with a 30m aquarium containing dancing jellyfish. The menu is excellent, but I never stray from the cod marinated in port and soy sauce, which challenges Nobu's celebrated black cod with miso.
Tonight I'm meeting some know-it-all Lisboetas, so I try to impress them and suggest down-at-heel Ramiro (00 351 21 885 1024). It's a local joint where I can graze on goose barnacles washed down with brain-freeze-cold lager.
My friends arrive late (inevitably) and we move on to an old favourite, Eleven (00 351 21 386 2211; restauranteleven.com). Named after the 11 friends who own the establishment, it was the first restaurant in town to receive a Michelin star in 1996. It still sits at the head of Lisbon's culinary table. Dishes here include tuna tartar, veal pie, crayfish carpaccio and crunchy shrimp risotto, all washed down with bottles of earthy Alvarinho. After a few ginjinhas (cherry brandies), we head out to mingle on the hilly, cobbled lanes of Bairro Alto. The medieval streets host hordes of hipsters. It doesn't matter which bar you choose, as most people only grab a beer before joining the street party.
Once done with the street banter, we rise above it all at Silk ( silk-club.com). Six floors up, the penthouse bar hosts a social elite. Waistlines are thin, wallets are fat and the tans are year-round. It's members only, but we'd arranged entry beforehand (and were asked to email headshots).
Music Box (00 351 21 347 3188; musicboxlisbon.com) has a live DJ and MC performing breakbeat to a mid-twenties crowd.
Sweat drips from the ceiling as we gyrate to the heavy bass. I'm just getting into it as I am dragged off to that beach party at Tamariz in Estoril. So the daily cycle of libertine Lisbon continues ...
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