Orange 3 House – Lisbon, Portugal

Amateur traveler reviews are often instrumental in trip planning.  Actual experiences and undoctored photos have proven much more reliable than short descriptions in guidebooks or glamorous hotel websites.  Accordingly, we wanted to share our own impressions of our hotel choices during our recent trip to Portugal and Spain for the benefit of other travelers.

Our reviews start in Lisbon, where strong reviews led us to Orange 3 House for our 3 night stay.  Orange 3 House is a 3-room bed & breakfast located in the heart of Lisbon.  The B&B’s proprietor, Igor, is extremely enthusiastic about the city of Lisbon and very dedicated to perfect the experience of his guests.  His recommendation led us to Guarda-Mor for fado, which I just incidently described as my “best memory of 2012” to a group of friends.

Our room on the third floor at Orange 3 House in Lisbon was modernly apportioned with plenty of natural light.

Price. €105/night for 2 people (including breakfast) on the 3rd floor (Suite 3).  Orange 3 House offers tremendous value, considering its location in one of Lisbon’s most interesting ,pest free garden and convenient neighborhoods and modern amenities.You can also contact experts from pest control portland to avail pest control services and to make your garden more impressive.You can save €10/night by staying in the rooms on the first and second floors, neither of which have the partial views of the Tejo River available in our room.  Prices drop an additional €10/night across the board in low season.

Location. Orange 3 House is located between 2 of Lisbon’s top neighborhoods for cuisine and sightseeing, Chiado and Bairro Alto.  It is directly adjacent to the Elevador da Bica (the focus of many Lisbon photographs) and a short walk to both Cais de Sodré and Rossio stations, which offer connections to popular day trip options Belém and Sintra.  The only time we ever needed a taxi during our stay was to connect to and from the airport.  We can think of no better spot for a Lisbon home base.

Room. We stayed in Suite 3, located on the 3rd floor.  The room featured a small balcony with partial views of the Tejo River (pictured below).  Unlike many other accomodations in Europe, Orange 3 House has floor-to-ceiling windows that allow ample natural light into the room.  It also offered a spacious shower (with the overhead rain nozzles that are becoming so popular) and modern conveniences like a flat screen television are free wi-fi.  Our room was the perfect place to relax and enjoy a bottle of wine before heading-out for dinner, especially after opening the large windows to enjoy the evening breeze and sounds of the city.

The balcony on Suite 3 at Orange 3 House offers partial views of the Tejo River.

Dining.  We were given a free bottle of wine at check-in and had access to the downstairs fridge for affordably priced beers, more wine, and snacks at any hour during our stay.  The breakfast is continental, but was delicious and provided us plenty of fuel to get through to lunch.  Every morning, we were surprised with a new local specialty pastry that was included as part of the breakfast, which was a nice touch.  We were also packed a to-go breakfast when we needed to catch an early morning flight our last day, which we certainly hadn’t expected!

Amenities.  Igor offers his guests free wi-fi, which had a strong signal on both the top floor and in the lobby.  I would recommend you go through Orange 3 House to arrange your transportation to and from the airport.  We tried to get our own cab on the way there, and they were unfamiliar with the neighborhood (dropping us off at the top of the Elevador, thinking the streets below were pedestrian only) and overcharged us.  On the way back, we had Igor arrange our taxi back and he picked us up right outside, and charged us the fair rate.

If we are lucky enough to return to Lisbon in the near future, I expect we won’t even to bother researching places to stay, given our complete satisfaction with Orange 3 House.  We were amazed by Igor’s superlative hospitality and loved our room and location.

Portuguese Fado in Lisbon

FadoA popular evening past time in Portugal is to enjoy local cuisine with the national folk music, called Fado.  We included a night of Fado on the trip itinerary we lined-out before we left.  At that time, however, we had know idea that the experience would turn-out to be a trip highlight.

Our original plan was to see Fado at a restaurant that specializes in performances.  Guidebooks include a list of restaurants with Fado every night, mostly in the Chiado and Alfama neighborhoods.  However, at the recommendation of our hotelier, we decided to go to a traditional Portuguese restaurant, called Guarda-Mor, that focuses on serving good food, but brings in Fado singers once per week as a special treat to their customers.  We really lucked-out with the recommendation.  Our dinner was one of the best meals of the trip and  experienced an absolutely captivating Fado performance. Continue reading

Missing the Food in Lisbon (Part II)

In addition to the delicious food that we were planning to try in Lisbon, there were many other foods that we were given the opportunity to order and I’m so glad we did.  It’s fair to say that we did not have a bad or even average meal in Lisbon.  I would even venture to say that all of the meals were closer to excellent (especially all three of our dinners).  We tried to order appetizers, main dishes, and desserts as often as possible in order to take full advantage of of our meals in Lisbon.  So, it’s understandable that we have several great dishes to share!


We shared two appetizers that I keep dreaming about – grilled sardines and fried green beans.  We ordered grilled sardines on our second night in Lisbon.  If it’s not obvious yet, we both love seafood.  We saw a grilled sardine dish as a special of the night, but since we had already decided on our entrées, we asked if it could be an appetizer instead (it came with sides as an entrée).  I’m so glad we ordered this – five whole sardines, complete with bones, tails, and heads!  The aroma of the freshly grilled sardines hit us right away, and we could not try them quickly enough.  The crispy, salty skin and the fresh fish inside was perfect – there was nothing to distract us from the wonderful taste of the sardines.  We ate as much of each sardine as we could, starting with the head and going down to the middle of the tail.  After finishing, Ryan wished he had ordered it as his entrée, and I don’t blame him!

We were torn on which appetizer to order on our last night in Lisbon (at the Fado restaurant), but our waiter recommended the fried green beans, so we went with that.  Although a little disappointed that a seafood appetizer was not recommended to us, our anticipation grew as the plate of green beans was placed in front of us.  They were still hot and crispy.  They were surprisingly light, and not oily or greasy like most fried foods.  The green beans themselves retained their flavor and were not dried out at all.  Another excellent choice.  We noticed that every single table also ordered the green beans, so they must be a house specialty (try them if you go to Guarda-Mor!).  I wish we would have ordered a second helping!

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Portugese Castles, Both Old & New, in Sintra

Back in August, we published a post on planning a possible day trip to Sintra, Portugal.  Sintra is a short 35 minute train ride from Lisbon’s central Rossio station an offers sightseeing opportunities at a variety of castles within a short distance from the town center.  After comparing the attractions in Sintra to alternative activities in Lisbon, we decided to make the day trip.  In fact, we were so excited about Sintra that we went there the day of our arrival from the United States, despite our jet lag.  Our visit did not disappoint, although we left feeling we only scratched the surface of the city’s sightseeing opportunities.  Our fatigue led to a rather rushed tour of the Pena Palace (described below) and a longer than expected lunch pushed the caves at Quinta de Regaleria and the gardens at Monserratte out of our schedule.  We still thought the journey was well worth the effort.  Sintra offers very unique landscapes and an appreciation for Portuguese royals that is very distinct from experiences in Lisbon.

The train station in Sintra is about a ten-minute walk from the town center.  The walk provides some excellent views of the National Palace (as seen in the picture above).  We did a very thorough tour of the palace, using the provided audio guides.  Highlights included the Stag Room with it’s dramatically-adorned ceiling and Atlantic views, and an ivory pagoda on display in the Chinese Room.  Unfortunately, we needed to work a little bit to avoid a huge tour group by backtracking.  We were unable to avoid large crowds in the kitchens directly underneath the palace chimneys.

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Missing the Food in Lisbon (Part I)

Before leaving for our Portugal and Spain trip, Ryan and I did a little research on some food we wanted to try in Lisbon, and I wrote about it here.  Now that we’re back, we miss the delicious food we were able to eat for every meal.  We took full advantage of the proximity to the sea, and made sure to try everything I had researched beforehand.  Looking back at the pictures makes me envious of my Lisbon-visiting self, but I can’t wait to share the local delicacies that have made us add Lisbon to the “places to revisit” list!

First up is bacalhau, the nation dish of Portugal.  We made sure to try this several times, since they are reportedly 365 different ways to make it (we only tried four).  Bacalhau is my kind of fish – tender, salty, and full of flavor – and I loved it every single way we ordered it.  The traditional way, served with potatoes, was fantastic.  Both times we tried it this way it was covered in garlic and an oil and white wine vinegar mixture (that was not overpowering).  The combination of bacalhau with potatoes is perfect – the soft potatoes and the firm (but tender!) bacalhau made the dish interesting and delicious.  Also, both taste great cooked in oil and garlic. 

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