I chose the Residencial Princesa more out of necessity than anything else. It suited my budget and had a single room available. I booked it without thinking to much about it because I was fairly sure that if I left it any longer the room would probably be booked by someone else. I knew nothing of the area it was in and despite finding it on the map, I was not at all sure how far away it was from downtown Lisbon (where I spend a lot of my time).
I took a taxi from the airport as my rucksack was blindingly heavy and I just wanted to get to my room as quickly as possible. The friendly driver ferried me to the hotel at a charge of €15 (price of 2007).
Upon arrival, unfortunately my room wasn’t ready. The staff were friendly and apologetic and offered to look after my bags whilst I went off for an hour and had a coffee. I had initially said I would probably arrive at about midday but I was nearly 2 hours earlier than anticipated. It was really my fault for sorely overestimating how long it would take to get my baggage and through passport control. The sun was shining and I was itching to get into Lisbon and while away the hours at some cafe so I wandered downtown to Suiça and took in the Lisbon air.
As I didn’t have a clue which bus went back to the hotel, I decided to walk back. It took around 25 minutes which wasn’t really that long although the backs of my legs protested as it was uphill all the way!
My room was ready by the time I appeared and I was shown up to a lovely little room on the second floor. The hotel does have a lift which is a rarity.
Everywhere was extremely clean, my room bright and airy and whilst it was small it was certainly enough room for me. I didn’t really have a view but for £39 (the 2012 price is now €55) a night I wasn’t expecting one. What I needed was clean, comfortable, functional and good staff – all of which I received.
There was a bed, wardrobe and desk with a chair and a dial out phone (with tariff chart included). A tv was on the wall with various cable channels as well as main Portuguese channels and a safe in the wardrobe. The safe has to be rented from the hotel at a charge of €1.50 per day plus a €10 deposit. The rental was taken out of the €10 at the end of my stay.
I would always recommend using a hotel’s safe whether you have a personal one in your room or a main safe. Hotels do not cover any loss of valuables from your room – better to be safe (pun intended!) than sorry.
I booked a room with a private bathroom. It was clean and well equipped with a toilet, bath, wash-basin and bidet as well as a hairdryer. The shower was always hot and whilst it wasn’t a ‘power shower’ it certainly did the job.
One thing I hadn’t realised when I booked was that breakfast was included. This is good bonus. The breakfast room was very clean and there was a range of foods served buffet style. On weekdays breakfast starts at 7.30am and at weekends it’s 8am. I would recommend going as early as you can as the room does fill up quite quickly. There are only 10 tables so if you arrive late you may have to wait.
Being an early bird however, I didn’t have that problem. There was a good variety of foods to choose from – cereals, toast, various bread rolls, sweet pastries and croissant. You could choose from butter, jam, marmalade, cheese or ham to go with the savoury. A fresh fruit basket was also provided as well as plain yoghurt. Drinks were orange juice, milk, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Everything was very fresh and it was nice to sit in the pretty breakfast room and nod hello to other guests. I noticed a high chair was provided and the baby who occupied it happily shook little bags of sugar and beamed at everyone who walked past her.
Internet access and a tv were also in here which I assumed were used later on in the day. I didn’t use either but I noticed the internet access was around €3 for 15 minutes. It’s a handy extra that can be useful if you need to quickly find something on the net or send an email telling everyone how fabulous Lisbon is!
After walking to downtown Lisbon and back a couple of times I finally decided public transport would be a good idea. The 790 stops right by the hotel and in 10 minutes has you on Figueira Square (from where you can catch the bus back again). The route was well served by frequent buses and costs €1.30 (in 2007) if you haven’t got a travel card.
I would however recommend walking down into town at least once so you get the feel of local life in Lisbon. One morning I followed the sound of cockrals crowing and found a lovely little park with ducks and hens running free. Old men sat talking, smoking and feeding the birds. The birds in turn are quite used to people feeding them and therefore tend to accompany you as you wander through.
Residencial Princesa has everything you need in a budget hotel. If you turn left immediately out the front door you’ll find the post office. Going right (then stay right) you’ll come to a cash point and a row of bars and local shops. There is another tiny park right opposite the front doors which is nice if you’re waiting for the bus.
The main front door is open 24 hours a day, as is reception. Most of the staff speak good English and all were very helpful and pleasant. As I left I told them I would recommend them to everyone and I am fulfilling that promise. I intend to stay at the Princesa again.
They have a website here
Rua Gomes Freire, 130
Tel: +351.21.319 30 70 –
Fax: +351.21.319 30 79