Greeting weary travelers from the U.S. with a welcome spa treatment can be the very definition of "you had me at hello," particularly if the treatment is geared toward alleviating the jet lag, dehydration and disorientation that accompanies overnight flights.
The 85-minute, Espa signature back, face and spa treatment was just one of the things the five-star, 518-room Corinthia Lisbon did right during a recent three-night stay, part of a weeklong Eurail trip that took us from Lisbon to Barcelona.
Another plus is the Executive Club Sky Lounge, available to guests in the 76 rooms on the upper Executive Club floors, where I had breakfast most mornings and the occasional afternoon cocktail and where the staff made a point of remembering my name and the double macchiato I ordered the day before.
But while all this pampering enhanced our visit, it's not what the hotel is all about, and I would argue, it's not really what Lisbon is about.
Yes, the city is increasingly on the radar of discriminating travelers looking for culture, dining and great wine, but Lisbon is not really a luxury destination in the traditional sense, and one gets the feeling it's not trying to be. Instead, restaurants and activities are focused on authenticity, tradition and good value.
The Corinthia fits seamlessly into this landscape by offering guests an experience that is specifically Portuguese.
Tiipico, for example, the hotel's fine-dining restaurant, offers tapas with regional ingredients, along with an informal, low-key decor and a first-rate wine list that includes some of the country's signature vinho verde, or green wine, named for its youth rather than its color.
The Tempus Bar and terrace takes its cocktails seriously, with Lisbon-specific offerings like a dry, white port, often mixed with tonic and served before dinner as an aperitif.
Sete Colinas offers indoor/outdoor dining with regional and international fare.
Breakfast at Sete Colinas, the one morning I tore myself away from the Club Sky Lounge, turned out to be a spacious indoor/outdoor buffet with regional and international offerings where a waiter saw me shivering on the terrace and brought me, without asking, a shawl to ward off the early morning chill.
Guestrooms feature flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, free WiFi, coffeemakers, soaking tubs and a fresh, contemporary decor.
The 11,000-plus-square-foot spa features 13 treatment rooms; a heated, indoor pool; and a fully equipped gym.
The property also offers meetings and event spaces as well as a conference center that can hold up to 1,400 people.
The hotel's central location, near Monsanto Park, the Gulbenkian Museum and the Jardim Zoologico metro station, is another plus for guests looking to discover the real Lisbon.
Rates start at about $120 per night.