Last Saturday, September 1st, 2018, what could well be Lisbon’s most exciting and most talked-about modern restaurant opened, at Hotel Corinthia Lisbon – and the gal was lucky enough to have a preview. Two months ago it had been yet another Mediterranean restaurant, with old-fashioned décor. Now it is a stunning looks-outside space, Erva (herbs), with herb pots on plain tables, and brick walls adorned with living green plants hung in metal pails: designer is Francisco Igrejas Leite. There is a glass-fronted ageing cabinet for Portuguese beef and lamb, and a Josper grill in the open kitchen headed by charming young Carlos Gonçalves. Start with a flaming cocktail, Casa da Avó, based on your grandmother’s soup cauldron (pine needles underneath are lit, as flames, and the ‘cauldron’ holds Zacapa 25 rum, Bulleit Bourbon, and the whole is topped with caramelized hazelnut). Go on to tapas and, say, sweetly succulent shoulder of baby lamb. Watch Restaurant Manager Martha Ventura explain the restaurant, below.
Last time I stayed here, long long ago, the entire wellness area on the hotel’s second floor was leased out. Now it is run inhouse. The gym, with all-wall windows overlooking the garden, is splendid, with brand-new Technogym equipment where televisions not only offer a range of channels but all seem to work, which is so rare. Of course it is 24/7 and when I arrive, banana in hand, the white uniformed attendant points out that ‘we do have bananas here’. Next I go to the spa, where ESPA consults: there are 13 treatment rooms and my back and neck massage culminates with my neck held in a towel hammock, to be rocked extensively from one side to the other.
The wet area is huge – this is the second biggest spa in the whole of Europe, apparently. Bridesmaids’ hen parties and small groups love doing buy-outs of the thermal waters, saunas and steamrooms – two hours max, ten people max, and basic swimwear essential, no nudity allowed. As hotel GM Roderick Micallef says, a spa does not make big money but it is a reason to choose one hotel over another, and this facility certainly contributes to the fact that the 518-room hotel has evolved, satisfactorily, from 65% business to 65% leisure, worldwide. And Lisbon looks like continuing to head lists, alongside Iceland, of places where people want to go if they have not yet been.
Any really great hotel can answer, and solve, whatever hiccup you as a traveller might have. After spa-ing, especially, you might need your hair done, and here is a first class salon, run by Lisbon’s top hairdresser, Marina Cruz. I am sure if I had needed clothes repaired, someone would have done it, quickly. I had a 5.30 a.m. departure and my breakfast, with hot eggs, came at five o’clock, on the dot. What really amazed me, however, was when I had an issue with Skype which needed resolving. No problem, someone can come in 40 minutes. Sure enough, 40 minutes later, two highly knowledgeable guys, in beach gear and flipflops, arrived – Diogo Ferrera and Ricardo Pais had, indeed, been on the beach that Sunday, but they were honestly and charmingly pleased to help. This is more than a hotel, it’s a highly desirable way of life. NOW WATCH A VIDEO OF ERVA