Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Tivoli Lisboa

21 Aug 2013 by Jenny Southan


There are 14 hotels that make up this Portuguese chain – six in the Algarve, one in Coimbra, three in Lisbon, two in Sintra, and two in Brazil.

A once grand five-star, the Tivoli Lisboa is in dire need of a revamp. It is very dated and its website makes it look a lot more modern and trendy than it is. Some of the bedrooms in the Collection category have been renovated but the rest of the hotel experience lets them down. Upon check-in, I was assigned the wrong room and had to go back down to have it changed. I was also shocked by how bad the gym experience was (see the below “Leisure facilities” section).

The standard category rooms are also quite small, at 20 sqm, and being on a main street means it can be very noisy at night if you have the windows open. The building dates back to 1928 and its interiors are, in the main, a mix of marble, dull brass and granny-style furniture. There are some elements that are more modern though, such as flatscreen TVs and more up-to-date furnishings in the remodelled bedrooms, and there is the added benefit of an outdoor pool and rooftop bar in summer months.


On the main street of Avenue da Liberdade, a ten-minute walk from Praca do Comercio, in the city centre. It is about 15 minutes’ drive to the airport. Round the corner is also the four-star Tivoli Jardim, which shares the facilities of the Tivoli Lisboa.


Standard-category Classic rooms are on floors one to five, and have double or twin beds, and views of the street or interior patio. Facilities include a workdesk, coffee table and two armchairs, an LCD TV, iron and ironing board, wifi internet (€10 for 24 hours), safe, minibar, Delta Q coffee machine, hair dryer, air conditioning and marble bathroom with Tivoli toiletries, robes and slippers. The décor varies, with some having chintzy floral curtains, peach lampshades and pink throws on the bed, while others have green eiderdowns and patterned carpets for example.

I was staying in a more modern Collection room (these are housed on floors six to eight), which was the same size but had a more stylish colour scheme (soft blues and greys) and black furniture. However, there was a large ugly print on the wall and the white marble walls in the bathroom had smudges of dark red in them that looked like blood. To make matters worse, I noticed that the edge of one of my sheets was actually sullied in this way, and despite not putting the eco-friendly “do not change my sheets” sign on the bed, to my disgust, housekeeping did not change them.

At night it was too stuffy to sleep with the windows closed and the air conditioning on so I kept the windows open, but then found it too noisy with the sound of street cleaners, roaring motorbikes, people shouting and planes going overhead. One evening, when I returned to my room, it mysteriously smelt of cigarette smoke despite me being on a non-smoking floor.


The Sky bar is open only during the summer months (April-September) so I wasn’t able to try this. The Tivoli Caffe is on the lobby level and there is also Terraco restaurant on the top floor, but again I didn’t have the chance to try them. What I did sample was breakfast in the all-day-dining Brasserie Flo Lisboa, on the ground floor. A breakfast buffet is served from 7am to 10.30am but I found the quality of the food to be poor and the coffee undrinkable.


The hotel has 11 event venues ranging from the 250-capacity Tivoli ballroom, to the smart 14-seat boardroom. There is also a contemporary conference centre 50 metres away that has seven meeting spaces for 300 delegates reception-style in the largest, or 400 when three venues are combined.  


When I visited in the winter, the outdoor pool wasn’t open so I didn’t get to see this. I did, however, attempt a workout in the gym but this proved disastrous. Firstly, the actual gym was closed for renovations so they had moved some equipment to a suite on the first floor. When I took the lift down I found the whole of the first floor in complete darkness – I stepped out of the lift into the corridor wondering if the lights were motion sensitive, but as the lift doors closed behind me, I realised they weren’t and I was plunged into complete blackness.

I managed to fumble around and fund the button to call the lift back and went down to reception to complain. They explained that they had closed that floor because no one was staying on it and took me back up via a different lift where, upon exiting, the corridor was illuminated. I then found that one of the two rooms in the suite assigned for use as a temporary gym was also in darkness, so I had to call back down to ask for a technician to come and fix the lights, which wouldn’t go on when I flicked the switch. I should have given up at this point because after waiting for 20 minutes, still no one had come and I had to call another two times until finally a man came.

I was on my own, and aware that no one else on the entire floor of the hotel was there, so started to feel a bit vulnerable. Determined to finish my workout (I was making do with some mat work and weights in the first room), I waited for the technician to set up a couple of floor lamps in the second room, but when I finally went to use the equipment (there were a couple of treadmills and a bike) I found that none of it worked properly and the straps on the pedals of the bike had come off completely. Nothing had been cleaned either and the bathroom was dull and uninviting.


One of the worst hotel stays I have ever had. It is an outdated property with bad service.


  • HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 306 rooms – 199 Classic (20 sqm), 59 Collection (20 sqm), ten Junior suites (40 sqm), 23 Tivoli rooms (40 sqm), nine Classic suites (56 sqm), four Executive suites (56 sqm), one Diplomatic suite (70 sqm) and one Presidential suite (250 sqm).
  • HIGHLIGHTS The outdoor pool and Sky bar – open only during the summer months (April-September) though. The meeting space is also extensive.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September ranged between €145 and €238 for a Collection room.
  • CONTACT Avenue da Liberdade, 185; tel +351 218 507 708;

Jenny Southan

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