When I asked the concierge of the hotel I was staying in, what was the most popular place and bar to hang out in Lisbon, I didn’t know what to expect when he told me about Pensão Amor.
‘You have to go to Pensão Amor’ he said and winked as he was telling a secret, and wrote me the address on a piece of paper. ‘If you go there during the weekend’ he said ‘be prepared to wait in a long line outside, but it is worth the wait’ he smiled.
Luckily, it wasn’t the weekend yet, but Thursday evening and I jumped into a cab up the hills of Bairro Alto, toward Cais do Sodré area. The cab driver dropped me in Rua Nova do Carvalho at the entrance of Pensão Amor and winked as well. Apparently, Rua Nova do Carvalho used to be the ‘red-light-district’ area in Lisbon for decades. In recent years it has been transformed and became one of the most hip and trendy streets in Lisbon, lined with hip bars and clubs that become crowded after 2AM when the bars in the legendary area Bairro Alto start to close.
I knew I was in the right place.
But what I didn’t know was what to expect when I got inside.
It used to be a cheap pension with rooms rented by the hour to prostitutes and their clients in that area. Pensão Amor, or ‘Guesthouse of Love’ is now a chic place of five floors; In the first floor you can find the bar that serves drinks and Peruvian food, a small bookstore with erotic books and literature and a pole dance room decorated with leopard and gold. Someone just told me that Pole dance workshops are held here to learn the tricks of seduction…In the other floors you can find a boutique that sells sexy lingerie and some vintage clothing and a trendy hair salon. Don’t forget to visit the restrooms; neon lights are all over!
I loved the decoration of the place and every room is different than the other. The ceilings of this former ’guesthouse’ are painted with frescoes, some walls are covered with mirrors, paintings and old posters, and some rooms might be too dark to notice anything. If you visit Lisbon and look for a trendy and relaxed atmosphere to hang out, I highly recommend this place. You will not get bored, for sure.