Some are staring in disbelief and talk about a miracle. Others are savouring a world thought left behind. A world of peaceful streets, of a laid-back atmosphere, allowing you to stop someone to ask them the time without causing a commotion. A world in which the famous yellow tram, wheezy and sluggish as ever, still clambers up the hill, ringing its bell. A world of lingering chatter on cobblestones polished by centuries of unhurried steps. Happy Lisbon.
And so, you look up. You take in the façades, sculpted or covered in glazed tiles, the balconies, stone and wrought iron, the stately doors that tell the stories of palaces, monasteries, courtyards. Or maybe a secret passageway leading you to the terrace of a trendy café. Glass of vinho verde (an unpretentious white wine) in one hand, pasteis de nata (mini custard pie served warm, to die for) in the other, welcome to the Chiado, the capital’s enchanting neighbourhood. Combining the patina of time, the bustle of the city, small shops, an arty atmosphere, and the simple pleasure of being here.
9Hotel Mercy: darkness and light
This building was placed under a merciful star. This 4-star, 47-room hotel was named after the street it inhabits, rua da Misericórdia. “Mercy” in Portuguese. However, the hotel has chosen English, so that its international clientele does not need to refer to Google.
Whatever the case may be, a state of grace reigns. Intimate surroundings, a lobby decked out in black and gold, armchairs and a coffee machine. People like to take their time here. And now, up to the room. The black and gold decor, subtly lit, is warm and welcoming.
The interior designer paid great attention to detail. In the rooms, black again (walls, bedspreads, furniture, drapes…) but dappled in light: the ray from a lamp, the glow of a metal wall lamp, the opals of a bright spotlight, softened by a dark glass wall (in the bathroom, for example). A success. The light provides the soft and cosy atmosphere suitable for a break or restorative sleep. By the way, the care products in the bathroom are a very nice touch.
Finally, a hotel that says no to massive canisters suspended above the sink. Instead, guests are offered small bottles with amusing logos: Be fun (shower gel), Be smart (shampoo), Be happy (conditioner) et Be cool (lotion). A desk with necessary plug sockets and a Nespresso unit complete the picture. Although that would be out of place, a (short) work session can be scheduled, away from the buzzing city.
Sensible fare at the 9Hotel Mercy
To truly appreciate it, head for the rooftop. The 6th floor of the Mercy provides a wide-screen view of Saint George’s Castle. These ramparts have been guarding the city for ages, watching over the Tagus River. Along with the city’s dozen of bell towers, peeking through an ocean of red tiles.
Here, the locals always keep an eye towards the sky with a little prayer in their hearts. The bar is open-air. Its charm lies in his modest dimensions. It can accommodate at most twenty or so short-skirted willowy beauties, unshaven bad boys on their arms. A toast, here’s to new friends. The fare is sensible, more so than the coming night: €9 for a spritz, €4 for a beer, €90 for a bottle of Moët et Chandon. Cheers!
The story continues at Carnal, the hotel’s own restaurant. Carnal offers Mexican cuisine with a new age twist and is always lively. A cherry on top of this hotel, bar and restaurant complex, sure to add to the legends of the Chiado and Lisbon itself.
The city is currently emerging as the beacon of European escapades; the Mercy its trendy den, the brand of new audacity. Of course. The Mercy is one of eleven locations of the very low-profile group 9Hotel, established in the most fashionable spots in Europe: Paris (four locations), Brussels (three), Geneva (one), Rome (two) and, thus, Lisbon.
A ticket to happiness
Right next to the hotel, Misericórdia Street meets the square of the same name, and the Sao Roque church. The church square is guarded by a statue of Antonio Vieira (1608-1697), a Jesuit priest, surrounded by Amazonian Indian children of whom he became the protector. Facing the church, a small kiosk serves coffee, snacks, and lottery tickets. Another life-size bronze depicts an old-fashioned street vendor, a cap on his head and a cigarette hanging from his mouth. He holds out a ticket, polished by thousands of hands, those of gamblers, coming to buy their ticket to happiness. Visitors enjoy the picture spot. A little gift from Mercy.
This winter 2022-23, expect to pay between €110 (double room) and €190 (suite) per night for two.
9Hotel Mercy, 76, rua da Misericordia, Lisbon.
Phone number: +35 121 248 14 80