I never intended to write a review of our accommodation in Lisbon. We thought it would be a comfortable base to lay our heads and no more but when it exceeded our expectations, I just couldn’t resist sharing it. We all love a hidden gem, right?
Thanks to some temptingly affordable Ryanair flights on Skyscanner – isn’t it always the way? – Jamie and I had the somewhat misguided idea that we’d be able to have a really cheap city break in sunny Portugal. But while we did manage to enjoy our six days there on a small budget (stay tuned for a detailed blog post soon), we initially struggled to find affordable accommodation. According to Sofia, a friend of mine we met for dinner during our trip, rental prices for locals are sky high too as the compact centre struggles to cope with the huge demand tourism places upon the city.
In my mind, September was out of peak season but apparently the whole of Europe had that idea too because when we started to search for somewhere to stay, the scary stats started to appear at the top of Booking.com. You know, the ones reading “the destination you selected is 90% booked on these dates”. Eek. So, thanks to that, my hopes of booking a cute eco-hotel with a rooftop pool faded pretty quickly. We widened our search criteria, trawled through Airbnb and were on the verge of paying way over the odds when we found Lisbon Calling.
The owners actually have two properties in the city: Lisbon Calling Hostel featuring a combination of shared and double rooms, and Lisbon Calling Rooms which is where we stayed. I’m going to say it straight out: it’s a total treat. Located just behind Avenida da Liberdade, we’d have certainly paid a premium for the upmarket area if we’d decided to blow our budget on a hotel but for 86 Euros per night, we felt like we’d got a decent deal.
Despite arriving in the dark after a late (and delayed) flight, it was immediately obvious that it’s a beautiful place to stay; think exposed brick and bright, spacious rooms complete with white shutter. From chatting to the manager Susana, I learned that the team had bought most of the furniture at auctions and upcycled it in such a creative way. In particular, I couldn’t get enough of the hipster-looking clothing rails, installed to save space, and one of the headboards crafted from an old door. But they didn’t skimp on the essentials: the air con was reliable, the showers powerful and the beds snuggly.
There’s five different rooms in the apartment, each with a private bathroom, plus the studio has its own entrance – perfect for if you have a little extra budget and want a whole place to yourself. But, while we could hear other people moving around in the mornings and evenings, it was rare that we came across anyone in the well-stocked communal kitchen. As privacy was one of our main concerns when booking into a guesthouse compared to a hotel, this was such a pleasant surprise and we ended up enjoying our stay way more than anticipated.
We spent the majority of our stay in Room 4 but switched to Room 3 on our last night as somebody had already booked in for that night. Susana handled the transition really well and we returned from our day trip to Sintra to find our packed up cases in our new room. Room 3 has an external bathroom across the hall which is slightly inconvenient but as it’s still private and sparkling clean, it didn’t make a huge amount of difference.
I sneakily peeked into some of the other rooms as they were being cleaned and I can confirm that they’re all as lovely as each other! In particular, Room 7 is huge with a really good sized bathroom. There’s nothing worse than checking into somewhere that looks completely different from the pictures but the great photography on their website is genuinely an accurate representation of the facilities in each room so you can book into your favourite!
As I approach my 27th birthday, I’m starting to feel that the days of dorm bunks, shared bathrooms and stepping over backpacks strewn across the floor are over. But my budget doesn’t always agree and staying somewhere like this felt like a great way to get the best of both worlds. I’d highly recommend staying at Lisbon Calling Rooms to anyone looking for somewhere pretty to stay on a budget. Plus, it’s pretty Instagram-friendly which never hurts, right?
How do you like to find reasonably priced hotel accommodation? I’d love to hear new tips!
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