a night at the inspira santa marta hotel, lisbon

Geoff and I are back from our trip to Portugal! It truly was too short but it was so, so wonderful. I can’t wait to see our pictures—our stubborn insistence on using mostly film cameras means that we always have to be a little extra patient to see our photos, since so many labs don’t seem to offer quick processing any longer.

In the meantime, I wanted to share one experience we had in Lisbon, which was our night at the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel just off the tree-lined boulevard Avenida da Liberdade. This stay was generously provided for us by the hotel in conjunction with the booking service Splendia, which specializes in luxury and boutique hotels with distinct character.

I have to preface this by saying that I love hotels and have yet to rent an apartment while traveling. I may be missing out, but I think this is partially because when I was little we never stayed in hotels; I slept, sometimes miserably, on a lot of sofas. I love being greeted at the door, I love being able to call down to the front desk at any hour of the day, I love room service. It feels luxurious not to have to make my own bed. Still, I usually look at a hotel as a place where I will sleep and store my things. When we checked in at the Inspira Santa Marta and were told we had full access to the Turkish bath, I was a little sad we didn’t have time to have a longer retreat in the hotel as our days were packed with taking in this beautiful city.


Steps to the spa—we were told that since Portugal does not produce lumber, the wood for the lobby was sustainably forested from northern Europe 

Inspira Santa Marta occupies what was once a palace (it seems that Lisbon is full of former palaces!) and a factory, retaining the facade, and as is typical for Lisbon, it is built into a small hill. The street outside is quite busy and loud, but inside the hotel is uncannily peaceful. The design of the hotel incorporates Feng Shui principles to create this calm feeling, and each of the rooms is decorated according to one of the five elements: earth, fire, water, wood, or metal. Geoff and I stayed in an earth-themed room.

While I was getting a tour of the hotel, Geoff stayed in our room to map out our day’s adventure. The water bottle on the table is one part of the hotel’s ethical policy: proceeds from sales of the water, which is filtered and bottled and sold in the hotel shop, go directly to PumpAid. The hotel has a wide-ranging commitment to environmental sustainability and community involvement, and is Green Globe certified.

The view outside our window

Just a little bathroom selfie while making selfie-face, you know how it is

Just love this wood!

For our other nights in Lisbon we stayed at a four-star hotel I had found online without much research. It was perfectly fine but the breakfast in particular demonstrated the gulf that can exist between one four-star hotel and another. The breakfast at the Inspira Santa Marta was delicious, made with locally sourced, fresh ingredients, and we could see the chefs cooking it in the open kitchen. Breakfast at our other hotel consisted of coffee from a vending machine and prepackaged croissants. Horror!

Lisbon was built on seven hills, just like Rome, so this view of the north side of the hotel is one you might see quite often.

Rua Santa Marta in the morning (the hotel is peeking out of the left corner)

Obviously, we loved our stay at the hotel. The service was exceptional, the room clean and comfortable, and the location just right. We both fell in love with Lisbon and hope we can stay at this hotel when we (inevitably) return. Thank you, Inspira Santa Marta!


  1. I m glad you had a nice stay in my hometown. I need to work on a Guide to Lisbon on my blog soon.

  2. Beautiful! That is quite the lobby. I am looking forward to seeing the film photographs.

  3. You guys are the cutest! Can't wait to see more pictures from the trip...

  4. Beautiful! now I want to go back to Lisbon. But either way I can't wait to see your pictures!

  5. So glad I stumbled upon this post on Pinterest. We are planning a Portugal trip for June and this looks like a great place to stay!

  6. i adore lisbon & wish i could visit again for longer!

  7. I'm a big fan of hotels as well, especially such unique ones as the one you got to visit! Lisbon looks enchanting!

  8. I swear I have staggered up that hill (second to last pic) with a wheelie suitcase! Nearly killed me. I do love Lisbon - it has such a sweet but melancholy atmosphere - the people really affected me, though I didn't really speak to any! The Gulbenkian is amazing isn't it. I wish we could chat about Lisbon over a coffee and pastel de nata in the sun.

  9. gimme dat breakfast!
    Also, very interesting about the lumber...I kind of love it!