When it comes to finding places to stay in the centre of a major city, it’s easy to assume that cheap accommodation means scrimping on comfort and even one’s eco-travel principles. Not so with Lisbon, I discovered. This city is renowned for its fantastic upmarket hostels, filled with ever-changing communities that take responsibility for their mess and want to make their travels last.
First up: Travellers House. This best-kept secret is the winner of various hostel industry awards, and is right in the middle of the most centrally-located street in Lisbon. You can go boho and book a dorm, or keep things private, as I did, and book a decent sized double room with ensuite bathroom (prices starting at 16 and 60 Euros respectively). Not only is Travellers House super convenient, it’s also an excellent value, socially undiscriminating and environmentally conscious place to stay. It is immaculately clean and full of friendly international visitors who respect the rules.
Almost too good to be true, one might think, were it not surrounded by other equally astonishing hostels of a similar style and price. These include Living Lounge, which is not only opposite the Baixa Chiado Metro station on the Rua Crucifixo, but also near the river and the trendy shops. It’s one of a duo of hostels, including the similarly-named Lisbon Lounge, owned by a group of Portuguese artists who designed the properties themselves. Every room is different, with flashes of colour, trilby hats artwork and thought-provoking slogans forming just some of the quirks.
And there’s Home House, a lovely hostel that defies the stereotype, decorated with dark wood paneling and boasting air conditioning and hairdryers. Every night you can pay just 10 Euros to eat a three course home-cooked meal with fellow travellers, served by Mamma, the owner’s mother. Who said delicious dining doesn’t come cheap?
During winter, temperatures in Lisbon drop almost as fast as the prices. If you’re not put off by chilly nights and quieter streets, then February and March are great months to visit. Direct flights to Lisbon operate from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Bristol with TAP Portugal, BA, easyJet and Ryanair.