Stay the Night: Baixa House, Lisbon

A dozen apartments in a converted 18th-century building offer an insight to local life in the city, says Caroline Kamp

Hotels offer many things, but in cities the rooms are notoriously compact. At Baixa House you stay in your own apartment with bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. There's no fancy front of house, just a doorbell on a busy street in the centre of Lisbon's Baixa (literally "lower", downtown) district which takes you into the vast stairwell of this converted 18th-century building.

One of the team lets you in, hands over the keys and explains how the place operates. Every day, fresh bread is left outside your door; the fridge is filled with breakfast goodies and the apartment is cleaned.

By staying in an apartment you operate on your own time frame. Get up early or late? It doesn't matter when you don't have to fit into a hotel's breakfast schedule. It's also a calm respite from the buzz of Lisbon. You can pop back to your pad when you want to recharge and don't have to perch on the end of your bed.

The rooms

There are 12 apartments, which vary in size and can sleep one to six people. Each is decorated differently – the owner, Jesus Moraime, is a landscape architect and has themed each one around a garden. High ceilings, whitewashed walls and bare floors provide the backdrop for colourful furniture, textured cushions and patterned rugs. The decor is striking and a real draw, but it's not just here to look pretty. The apartments won an award for the use of traditional Portuguese furniture and materials, such as the local marble in the bathrooms. They've also used a mixture of indoor and outdoor chairs and tables which gives the apartments a laid-back feel.

We stayed in 1A Belem on the first floor. The higher up you go, the lighter and brighter the apartments are. There's no TV, but free Wi-Fi, a stereo with input for playing music through your phone/tablet and magazines left behind by people who stayed before you. The Time Out Lisbon guide was useful, as were the effusive notes in the visitors' book. It would be a good option for family travel, since there is plenty of space and evening babysitting can also be arranged.

Out and about

Head out on foot and climb up the winding streets, while avoiding being mown down by a tram, to Sao Jorge castle (00 351 218 800 620; castelodesaojorge.pt). It's a great way to get your bearings and to look out on the mighty Tagus river, the Golden Gate-style 25 April suspension bridge and the Cristo Rei statue which bears a striking resemblance to Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

With striking azulejo ceramic tiles plastered all over the outside of the city's majestically crumbling buildings, you might not feel the need to take a short taxi or bus ride out to the National Tile Museum (Rua Madre de Deus 4), but it's located in an old convent, with some extraordinary interior architecture and a great café, so it's well worth the trip.

For shopping, A Vida Portuguesa at 11 Rua Anchieta (00 351 213 465 073; avidaportuguesa.com) in the Chiado district is a must-visit independent shop, which supports and sells traditional Portuguese goods, such as soaps, stationery and sardines all beautifully packaged and displayed in ceiling-high glass cabinets.

The food and drink

The fridge is filled with juice, yoghurt, butter, jam and milk. Fresh bread arrives daily and is waiting outside the door of your apartment in the morning. Cakes appear in the afternoon. You can make proper coffee, in a pot on the stove – none of that instant sachet nonsense – and there's also tea. Being an apartment, there is the full compliment of tableware which is cleared away and washed up daily.

There are many options for eating out in Lisbon, and what's not to like about a country whose national delicacy is the custard tart? Try a pastel de nata with an espresso at a tiny coffee shop called simply Nata at 18 Calcada do Combro (natalisboa.com). For dinner, the team at the apartment suggested we try traditional, rustic Portuguese food at the quite hard-to-find, but very well-priced Taberna Ideal at 112-114 Rua da Esperanca (00 351 21 396 2744).

The essentials

Baixa House, 18 Rua dos Fanquerios, Lisbon, Portugal (00 351 91 9090 895; baixahouse.com). Minimum two‑night stay in a one-bedroom apartment starts at €290 (£248).

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
United States President Barack Obama, right, uses actor Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele to play the part of 'Luther, President Obama's anger translator'
video
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions