Restaurant Review: Santiago de Alfama, Lisbon in Portugal
Lisbon is known as the city built on 7 hills, and, trust me, after walking around for a weekend, you’ll be able to feel each of them in your calves!
On the plus side, the views you’re rewarded with at the top always make the climb worthwhile. One spot with a particularly gorgeous view is the Santiago de Alfama hotel, restaurant and spa.
As the name suggests, the hotel is located in Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest quarter. Unlike the rest of the city, this part of town is way more Middle Eastern than European. The streets are winding and lined with small market stalls and beautiful printed tiles.
Santiago de Alfama is ancient – literally. The owner Heleen Uitenbroek carefully worked with architects for almost six years to juggle Roman remains and listed walls, all while trying to design a modern boutique hotel. And she succeeded; the finished product is not only authentic but captures the history too.
It’s also in a prime location; being just a short walk away from both the monastery and castle, it boasts views of the sea and the church where Christopher Colombus got married. I headed there to try out the beauty room and restaurant in early June and left feeling rather relaxed.
The spa is nestled away in the basement and is an oasis of calm. I sampled their tired legs massage, which isn’t my typical spa treat, but, after tackling Lisbon’s unforgiving hills, it proved quite the remedy.
For 30 minutes my pins were squeezed, needed and coated in oil. I walked away feeling like Naomi Campbell… well, almost. I followed up with a pedicure which only added to this supermodel feeling; from the bottom half down, I felt pretty glam.
After several hours of pampering, it was time for lunch in the hotel’s bar Audrey’s. Audrey’s spills out from the hotel and onto the cobbled pavements of Alfama; if you’re lucky enough to bag a seat on the higher section, you’re treated to a teeny ocean view.
Lisbon is known for its fresh seafood, so naturally I went for a fish feast. For starters, I tucked into Audrey’s salmon ceviche, a zingy mix of fish, dill, olive oil and watercress. It packed flavour and went down perfectly with a (large) glass of Quinta do Vallado, a stunning white from the Douro wine region.
For the main course, I opted for a classic Tuna Niscoise; the chunky steak was caught in the Portuguese Azores and you could taste the freshness. Drizzled in olive oil, the crunchy salad was ideal for a sunny day when a large lunch could leave you feeling zapped.
I’m also going to give a shout out to the Portuguese white wine vinegar which came with the salad: the dressing was smooth to taste with a hint of sharpness. It really complemented the salad and just writing about it now has got me salivating!
Audrey’s has a very relaxed feel to it, which encapsulates the mood of Lisbon. What struck me about each member of staff I encountered was the friendliness; nothing was too much effort and I felt they were truly invested in ensuring I had an extremely enjoyable experience.
Although I didn’t spend night in the hotel, if it’s anything like the restaurant and spa, it’ll be a real treat and well worth a visit.
Address: Rua de Santiago 10 a 14, 1100-494 Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 21 394 1616