Ever since the Expo in 1998, which commemorated the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's discovery of a sea route to India and brought Lisbon its first world fair, the Portuguese capital has been on a roll.
Previously derelict areas are now positively brimming with edgy, cool boutique hotels. However, the city's latest opening offers classic elegance, artistic finesse and understated luxury on Lisbon's most magnificent 19th-century avenida, Liberdade. It also puts guests right at the vibrant centre of local life.
Like town house hotels in London and New York, Valverde Hotel rises up six floors behind a beautifully preserved 19th-century façade. Interiors reflect the best of Portugal with the decorators, Bastir – renowned for their designs in both the Bairro Alto Hotel in Lisbon and Vidago Palace in the country's extreme north – drawing together art, bespoke porcelain from Braz Gil Studio, silks, wood, slate and marble from around the country to create a harmonious whole.
They often reference the wider influence of Moorish architecture, with lattice sliding screens or patterned floor tiles. The Portuguese emphasis is also visible in the staff uniforms (Lacoste, now in the hands of a Portuguese designer) the coffee (Delta), of course the wine (try the local Alfaiate white) and the food, from the cod parcels flecked through with coriander to the tiny egg custard tarts, pasteis de nata.
The Sitio Restaurant has a brasserie feel with black and grey slate tiles, comfortable wooden chairs with cushions and views on to a leafy courtyard – an unexpected bonus in the city centre – complete with a heated swimming pool. Opposite reception is an elegant sitting room, with walls of striped purple and black fabric and the 1950s veneered furniture that is found throughout the hotel. There's also a tiny screening room and a gym for those who prefer to exercise indoors rather than up and down the cobbled hills of the capital.
The hotel is in the most accessible and flattest part of Lisbon, less than 10 minutes' drive from the airport and a short walk from Avenida metro station. The wide avenues allow free-flowing traffic, but this part of the city is also good for walking, with sights such as the stunning neo-Manueline Rossio station just a few minutes in one direction and a host of designer shops in the other.
Those who seek outdoor space are well catered for, with the 19th-century Botanical Gardens and Park Eduardo VII within strolling distance and the must-see Gulbenkian Museum beyond.
The 25 rooms, including two spacious suites in the eaves, are all individually styled, with geometric rugs and veneered 1950s furniture. Art gives a sense of place, from antique prints to local Lisbon talent.
The suites have views over the red rooftops of Lisbon and St George's Castle and large bathrooms with cast iron tubs and black marble basin surrounds. Single bedrooms are compact, but with balconies, while bigger classic bedrooms look out on the leafy interior courtyard and pool. Deluxe and junior suites have parquet floors and Moorish screens to separate the bedroom from the bathroom. The whole is a vision of polished comfort.
Valverde Hotel, Avenida da Liberdade 164, Lisbon, Portugal (00 351 210 940 300; valverdehotel.com).
Doubles from €212, including breakfast
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