Old Jul 25, 14, 4:02 pm
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hannisen
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Sweden
Posts: 214
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon - Trip Report

We stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon six nights mid-July and this is my trip report from that stay. This is my first trip report, so I hope it's good enough. It’s a bit long, but there’s a TL;DR version below which sums up everything in a few short sentences.

I have put up a few galleries at my own domain, as they are quite large and I wasn’t sure how this forum would handle them. There’s on gallery with all photos, and then six sub galleries with only the photos that belong in each of them. I have more photos, but I think these cover most of the more interesting parts of the hotel.

All photos
The exterior
The interior
The room
The pool
The dinner
Wear and tear

Preface
I want to preface this report by saying I had never stayed at an European Four Seasons before, and I never stayed at a Four Seasons this large either. I also want to say that this is my own opinion, and I welcome any questions.

The TL;DR version
This is a beautiful hotel which I feel is in need of some refurbishment. Rooms are large and comfortable, but worn. It had the best housekeeping of any Four Seasons we’ve stayed at and really great food. However, in some areas service could be improved and more even.

Background
We went to Lisbon on our honeymoon about 11 years ago. That trip didn’t end to well, since both my wife and I got sick with salmonella. Since then, we have been talking about going back, but the memories have been to fresh to stomach (ha ha) a second trip. We were very picky with where we ate and what, but it was fun going back with our daughter. We also got a chance to see some of the things we didn’t have a chance to see the last time.

Pre-arrival contact & reservation
The main methods of contact used for pre-arrival planning and arrangements were done over e-mail and Twitter. This included the reservation, which I will get into more a bit later. I found all the staff I had contact with courteous and knowledgeable.

As I mentioned above, the reservation was done over e-mail. Usually when staying at Four Seasons I book through Amex Platinum Travel, but as I had seen an offer that said to send an e-mail directly to them I decided to do so. It turned out the offer I had seen had expired, but the person I had contacted asked me to give her the dates we were interested in and she would look at what she could do. She told me that the best she could offer was every third night free if booking a deluxe room, but she also offered us a confirmed two level upgrade to a Central One-Bedroom Suite for the duration of our stay. As I found this to be a very good offer I asked her to make the reservation for us.

Location
The hotel is up on a hill which means great views but it also means that if you're walking, you always end the day walking up that hill. Taxis are cheap and easy to find, however, so it doesn’t have to be an issue. We walked more or less everywhere, except the most remote parts of the city, and I would say that most of the central parts of the city are about 20-30 minutes by foot.

I found the location to be convenient and in a good part of Lisbon. On our previous stay in Lisbon, we were more or less forced to take a taxi or the metro to get anywhere interesting, so this was a much better location.

Check in
Check-in was fast and efficient. We were given room 433/434, which was a non-smoking room on the fourth floor with a king bed. Our daughter was given a treasure map, and a first clue which she had to solve to get the second clue somewhere in the hotel. This is similar to how other Four Seasons does it, I know they do something very similar at FS Boston. Other than that information was very sparse.

I asked about in-room WIFI, and was informed that this was now free of charge. This seems to be a fairly recent, and very welcome, change. As usual the free WIFI isn’t very fast, but it works well and they have a premium WIFI option. The whole check-in process was a bit impersonal, but there wasn’t anything wrong with it.

Doormen & bellhop
The doormen always made an effort to open the door for us. They were very friendly and if asked about walking distance or how to get somewhere they had always had an answer that turned out to be accurate.

The service from the bellhop was equally good. Our bags were taken care of as soon as we arrived, and when we departed they were at our room quickly when we asked for help with our luggage. Bags were seemlessly transported from our room and loaded into the car, as it should be.

The room
Our room was a non-smoking Central One-Bedroom Suite with a king size bed on the fourth floor, room 433/434. It consisted of a living room and a separate bedroom connected by a hallway. Both rooms had a good sized TV with lots of channels with english programming, as they subtitle TV in Portugal instead of dubbing it. I should note, though, that there was no children’s programming available in English.

The room was well decorated with a good amount of chairs, sofas and desks for writing or working. There was also plenty of closet space and drawers, which is always good to see. The room didn’t have any modern touches apart from the flat screen TVs, it was classical and somewhat romantic in style. There were no music docks, just an ordinary clock radio and although the room was very nice, it did feel slightly dated.

The air conditioning worked very well and was reasonably quiet. The bed was very comfortable and provided good sleep quality. The sound proofing to the hallway could have been better, but wasn’t an issue most nights. One night, however, there were people outside our room at 3:30 am who were loud and woke us up. The sound proofing to the outside, on the other hand, was excellent.

The private bar was in its own separate room in the hallway connecting the livingroom and bedroom. It was well stocked and included a Nespresso machine, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.

There were two separate all-tile balconies with a table and two chairs each. One with an exit from the living room, and one from the bedroom. Chair cushions were provided and they were comfortable. The morning sun made the balconies very warm in the morning, but in the afternoon they were great to relax at. The view from the balconies over the park and the city of Lisbon was great.

The bathroom
The bathroom was very large and in black marble with green tiles as an accent. It had double sinks, a large beautiful bathtub and a separate shower. The bathroom was very dark, in part due to the black marble and in part to insufficient lighting.

The shower had a rainfall shower head mounted on the ceiling as well as a handheld shower head. It looked like parts were missing, as there was a mark on the wall where the higher wall mount for the handheld shower head usually is.

There was also a separate toilet with bidet next to the shower. There was no sound proofing between toilet and the rest of the bathroom, however, and the toilet was even darker than the rest of the bathroom. There were also a couple of strange faucets on the wall.

Wear and tear
The room was in good condition, but there was some noticeable wear. The carpet and all fabrics on the sofas and chairs were kept very clean and looked to be in very good condition. There were some black scuffs on the wall next to the wardrobe, and the bed frame had some marks on it. There was also very visible patchwork on the ceiling.

The bathroom had some issues as well. The marble had started to come out on the floor, and I had to pick it off my foot on more than one occasion. There was also some very evident rust on the hinges of the shower door.

As far as the common areas are concerned, they looked to be well kept. Some maintenance was being done to the plaza outside the pool, and the exterior of the building in general could have been in better shape. As have been mentioned regarding this hotel before, it does feel like a refurbishment is due.

Restaurants
We had the opportunity to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the main restaurant, Varanda. The atmosphere at Varanda is casual, but definitely on the more upscale part of the spectrum. The service for all our meals there was very good, but slightly uneven.

There’s also a bar with both inside and outside seating called Ritz Bar. The food served here is more or less common bar food, but we never ate here. They do have a Sushi bar Wednesday through Friday that did look very interesting.

Lunch
The day of our arrival we decide to have lunch at Varanda. The lunch is served as a buffet with three sections, appetisers and sallads, main dishes and desserts. The best word to describe this buffet is extravagant. The quality of all the dishes we tried were great, and the selection was very impressive. The hotel has a very good Sushi chef who delivered some truly amazing sushi. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t have more of the Sushi, because it was some of the best I have ever had.

The service during the lunch was very good. Everything was refilled and kept nice and tidy. Glasses were always kept full, and used dishes taken away promptly. Any questions we had about the food was answered right away, and someone was usually available to help serve the food if you wanted them to. They also told us that they would prepare anything that our daughter wanted if there was nothing on the buffet that she liked, which was a nice touch.

Breakfast
The breakfast was a full buffet, and while it wasn’t as interesting as lunch, it was quite good. There were a few different cold cuts and cheeses, a muesli station, breads, bagels with salmon and a selection of different cream cheese, a hot section and eggs cooked to order. There was also lots of fruit and berries and a wide array of pastries. The service during breakfast was also very good, but not consistently as good all the days we ate there. Something I noticed was that while the lunch was replenished all the time, there were some items during breakfast that ran out towards the end of service.

Dinner
During the planning part of our trip I had frequent contact with the Twitter team at the hotel. As a result of this, we were very lucky to be offered to be the very first to try the new Portuguese tasting menu they were putting together. The menu consisted of four courses, with the two first courses being different for my wife and I, and the food was absolutely amazing. It was as good, or better, as food I’ve had at Michelin starred restaurants and the attention to detail on all the dishes was impressive. Even the palate cleanser, which was a green apple sorbet with pineapple foam, was amazing! I won’t go into any more detail, but if anyone wants to know more, I will be happy to share.

Since they had never served this menu before, the servers made a few mistakes, but nothing that detracted from the experience itself. If anything, it added to it, as they remarked that they were excited to serve this menu for the very first time.

After the dinner we were fortunate to meet the chef behind the menu, executive sous chef Carlos Gonçalves, who gave us a tour of the kitchen and talked a little bit about the menu. It was evident that he was very proud of the menu, and rightfully so.

Room service
We ordered room service a few times. We ordered a Spaghetti carbonara at 9:10 pm, and it was delivered before 9:30 pm. Food was fresh, very hot and tasted great! It was a very good carbonara with just the right amount of cream, cheese and bacon. It was presented well and included a nice selection of breads and a small bowl of grated parmesan. Set up was very fast, and so was the removal of the table after we were done.

We also had breakfast in the room a few mornings. The delivery was always made at the time we requested, and the food was good, fresh and very well presented. The people delivering the breakfast were always very nice and friendly, and things were handled smoothly. We did have one minor issue with not receiving what we ordered one morning, but that was taken care of in a matter of minutes.

Housekeeping
Housekeeping at this hotel was outstanding! Every time we returned to our room it was spot less. Considering the slightly worn feeling of the room, housekeeping did an amazing job to make it feel as clean and fresh as they did. We have not had housekeeping this good at any other Four Seasons we’ve stayed at.

Turn down was also very good, and the few times we requested it to be done within a specific time frame it was. There was nothing special done during turn down, but water was left by the bed, and the room was restored to a perfect condition which is more important in my opinion. Returning to a room in great condition in the evening is such a nice feeling.

Pool & spa
The spa & pool area at the hotel is very nice. The pool is a good size at 59 x 23 feet (or 18 x 7 meters) and there are huge chairs next to the pool that can be configured as both sitting and laying down. The changing rooms, sauna and showers are in a vast maze like space, and felt a little extra special. The bathrobes available by the pool were a very good size so they will easily fit larger people, which isn’t always the case. There were also sandals available.

One slight disadvantage of the pool and spa was that there were no dedicated pool attendants. Instead they were in the reception by the elevators and made the rounds to the pool on a set schedule. This meant that at times it was a little messy before they got around to it. It also meant that you didn’t feel quite as pampered by the pool as you do at some other Four Seasons, but it was still nice.

We didn’t have the time to try the spa services, but we did notice that they were half price between 10-12 am and 3-5 pm.

Concierge
We found the service provided by the concierge, some of which are members of Les Clefs d’Or, to be very good throughout our stay with one exception. We had arranged for a full-day tour of Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Guincho, Cascais & Estoril through the concierge, which ended up putting a dent in our stay. This was due to a Smart Car event which meant we couldn’t visit either Guincho nor Cascais and that we could only see a small part of Estoril.

This was obviously outside of their control, but they should have been aware of this huge event and scheduled the trip to another day. At the very least, they should have planned the route for our day differently as we spent about an hour and a half sitting still behind other cars.

After the trip I told them we weren’t satisfied with the trip, and this is when I got really upset as they didn’t seem to understand our disappointment. They did offer us an additional tour of Guincho and Cascais, but we didn’t have the time to take them up on the offer. At this point it seemed as though they were content with what they had offered, and it wasn’t until I told them we still weren’t happy that they asked what they could do to rectify the situation.

We were given canapés and tea in our room, together with a note from the assistant front office manager as an apology as well as a complimentary transfer to the airport. In the end, we were happy with the compensation, but they way they handled the situation was not good at all. The transfer to the airport was our suggestion, and I feel they could have done more to compensate us for the issues with our tour.

Closing thoughts
We ended up having a very good stay at the Four Seasons Lisbon, and for someone looking for a good place to stay when visiting Lisbon, I think this would be something to consider. There’s amazing artwork all throughout the hotel, including in the rooms, which adds to the feeling of grandeur. I don’t think the hotel was in as good condition as one might expect from a Four Seasons, but for us the great food and housekeeping made up for it. It's not in terrible condition, I've seen better hotels in worse condition, but I hope they start updating it before it's too late.

Last edited by hannisen; Jul 26, 14 at 10:56 am
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