Nestled in the very heart of Lisbon’s historic centre, off the popular Dom Pedro IV plaza, lies Igreja de Sao Domingos, a large church established in 1241, and rebuilt after a fire in 1748. Step inside and the touristic hustle and bustle around you falls silent as you admire its architecture. The gorgeous rose-coloured vaulted ceiling and interior are not just historically important, having played host to several Portuguese royal weddings – it also serves as the colour palate inspiration for the newest arrival to the Lisbon luxury hotel scene.
Opened in September 2023, the Convent Square Lisbon, Vignette Collection has taken over the former Dominican convent of the neighbouring church and brought it into the 21st century. As I stepped into the lobby, I was greeted by an understated elegance that set the tone for my stay—a stay that was marked by a measured blend of comfort and history.
The first impression of the Convent Square Lisbon, Vignette Collection was one of chic calm. The lobby is all rose-gold, designer carpets and smooth surfaces, with a view through to the inner courtyard. The building, a meticulously restored convent dating all the way to the 13th century, exuded a quiet grace in contrast to the bustling capital outside. The owners IHG Hotels & Resorts have done an admirable job preserving the authenticity of the space with clever design choices such as the soft carpet in my room mimicking the original stone floors from centuries ago. The old monks would have been jealous at just how much comfort their old convent now exudes. No more ascetic lifestyles here!
The hotel rooms are tastefully appointed, each one telling a story of its own. My room, a Deluxe Suite, boasted a subtle colour palette that complemented the natural light streaming in through the large windows. The furnishings were a harmonious mix of modern design and antique accents, giving the room a timeless appeal. But my personal favourite part was the stunning marble bathroom, soft rose hues with a huge mirror, all the better to enjoy the luxe Karl Lagerfeld toiletries and plush bathrobes.
The hotel’s staff deserves commendation for their professionalism and attentiveness. From check-in to check-out, the service was efficient, and the staff members were always ready to assist with any inquiries. I lost an earring at the start of my stay and everyone I met seemed to know I was the guest looking for her earring – lovely personal attention.
Each Vignette Collection hotel offers its guests a Memorable Rituals experience that reflects its distinctive identity, location, and culture. Here in Lisbon, it honours Portugal’s legacy as the first country to introduce tea to Europe in the 1600s, thanks to the Portuguese priests and merchants and the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza, who married Charles II in 1662. Alongside a very knowledgeable tea expert, I got to enjoy the ancient healing tradition of the Dominican monks by creating my own hot and cold tea infusion from a variety of herbs and leaves. As I sat back and inhaled the scent of soothing ginger and mountain herbs, I learned how maladies were treated with the cloisters extensive herb garden.
And for those looking for a different type of healing, the stylish bar staff will of course whip up enticing cocktails with pleasing names such as ‘Antidote’ and ‘Potion’ that will soothe any aches.
Enclosed by the original stone walls of the convent, the courtyard is a tranquil oasis in the midst of central Lisbon. It’s a perfect spot to unwind with a book and a cappuccino, or for a night cap after dinner, warming yourself by the crackling firepits.
Speaking of dinner, you must try the hotel’s beautiful restaurant, Capítulo. Despite the fact that Lisbon has a buzzing food scene, we returned to the hotel restaurant night upon night – it was just too delicious. The menu is thoughtfully curated by chef Vitor Sobral for the hotel’s signature blend of heritage and modernity, featuring traditional Portuguese dishes with a contemporary twist. The seafood rice dish was a highlight, rich and creamy, and pairing perfectly with the white wine that Pedro Lopes, the hotel’s sommelier, had recommended. When I mentioned this, he beamed with personal pride. It turns out he was one of a group of carefully selected sommeliers that had chosen the grapes for this wine – hence the name Conde Vimioso Sommelier Edition.
The dessert selection with its mysterious Portuguese dessert names was enticing to us foreigners. We had never heard of Sericaia or Toucinho do Ceu before. Throughout our stay, we greedily got to try them all – which meant we were grateful for the hotels’ gym. My personal favourites were the Quindim, fluffy coconut egg custard tarts that tasted like heaven.
Lisbon is a fantastic city year-round, and I never get tired of it. It’s become one of the most trendy cities in recent years, with many restaurants, designers, artists and galleries enticing stylish travellers. But its magic lies not in new-builds, but in the way it blends new inspirations with its historic traditions, always honouring its heritage. And The Convent Square Lisbon, Vignette Collection really embodies this spirit of Lisbon. Its meticulously restored architecture, thoughtfully designed rooms, memorable ritual and peaceful courtyard create a unique atmosphere that sets it apart from typical city hotels. Just like Lisbon itself, it brings together the old and the new perfectly.