Sitting at home during the tail end of Atlanta Snowmageddon 2011, I decided to break away from Atlanta for a quick trip to Lisbon, Portugal. Fresh off a my end of the year trip to Brazil, I was inspired by the Potuguese influence on not only Brazil, but Angola, Macau, India and more. So, in the spirit of Vasco de Gama, I booked my round trip ticket, 3 days in advance (using Delta Sky Miles), and prepared for little fun in Lisboa.
With the plane ticket booked, the only pressing detail was a place to lay my head. Since this was a really last minute trip and no finances were set aside, I wanted to keep costs to an absolute minimum, yet not sacrifice cleanliness and a speedy internet connection. Portugal, compared to rest of the European Union, is fairly cheap. Hotels in the city center could be found for $100 or less a night, but for what I was looking to spend, my best choices would be Couchsurfing or a hostel.
After a few failed CS connections, I headed of to the Lisbon Couchsurfing Wiki to find recommended accommodations given I had less than 24 hours before my arrival. After a little due diligence, I decided on Albergo Odisseo (formally Albergo Olisipo), a recently renovated nineteenth century building that seemed to be in the center of it all. After reading several great reviews, I secured my room via e-mail. Only 20 Euro per night for a single room — perfect. My wallet was already thanking me!
I arrived the next night after spending a day roaming the streets of Paris, tired and ready to crash. I took the bus, per the hostel’s on-line directions, and instead of walking, took a short cab ride the rest of the way up the hill.
It was around 11:15pm and walking in a strange place, with luggage and up a hill, would not have been a smart thing to do. Besides, I was beat and don’t think I could have made it all the way.
When I arrived, I was greeted by Frederico, 1 part of the sister-brother team that manages Albergo Odisseo. After a brief registration and tour , I headed straight to my room and crashed.
The next morning, I was met by Vanessa, the other half of the Lopes duo. She too made me feel right at home and even sat down with me to map out a strategy for tackling the city, complete with a map and guide book. I had a done a little prep before coming, but she schooled me on little details I had missed or otherwise wouldn’t have known, like free museum days and other local favorites. This became my daily routine. I would mix her suggestions with my limited reading/planning and random walking and exploration. It worked perfectly!
At the end of night 4, I almost didn’t want to leave to head to Barcelona. I had a really great time in Lisbon topped off with a really great budget accommodations!
- Clean – This is my number 1 priority! It has to be clean! I appreciated the daily cleaning by the hostel staff. She was very thorough, especially in the bathroom.
- Free wi-fi — Nothing beats fast, free wi-fi, which is exactly what you get at Albergo Odisseo. If you don’t have your own laptop, don’t worry, they have computers that you can use as well.
- Very friendly and helpful staff — Vanessa and Frederico were awesome. I really appreciated their hospitality that when well beyond my expectations.
- Close to public transportation — Just a short walk down the hill is the the Aveneida metro stop and access to buses, taxis and trams. Getting around was not a problem at all.
- Staff speaks English — My Portuguese sucks (I’m working on it!!) and I appreciated being able to communicate effectively with the staff in English.
- Quiet — I’m not sure if this is due to it being the off season and low occupancy, but there wasn’t any wild and craziness going on. I definitely appreciated it after those long days/nights out and about the city; I slept like a baby.
The Cons (I’m really stretching on these)
- They charge for towels — Granted it’s only 1 Euro a day, but just thought you should know. I brought my own, so no worries for me.
- No private bathrooms — If you must have a bathroom to yourself, sorry.
- Wi-fi does not work in all rooms — I had to go down the hall to the community room to get a signal, which was no biggie. I got to meet and interact with some of the other guests while knocking out a few to dos.
- Lots of stairs — Lisbon is a city built on 7 HUGE hills, which means buildings go up and walking around can be a bit tiring. My room was on the third floor. Word of advice, pack light.
- Cash only — This is the case with most hostels, but it sure would be nice if they took AMEX so I could earn more travel rewards.
When your travels bring you to Lisbon, Portugal, I would highly recommend you give Albergo Odisseo a call. The friendly staff, exceptionally clean accommodations and central location make it an ideal budget friendly choice! You can also connect with them on the Albergo Odisseo Facebook page as well.