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Hotel da Estrela, Lisbon 

35 Rua Saraiva de Carvalho
Portugal 1250 242
Tel: 351 21 190 0100
view web site ›'s insider take:

School became cool when Hotel Da Estrela opened in October 2010 in the historic Palácio dos Condes de Paraty, which housed a school in the 1950s. Located in the residential Campo de Ourique neighborhood, the hotel is a short hop on the no. 28 tram or a few euros' cab ride from Bairro Alto. The hotel recruits its staff from among the final-year students at the neighboring School of Hospitality and Tourism. Portuguese interior designer Miguel Câncio Martins (Buddha Bar Paris) continues the education theme with a hall-like reception area sporting antique desks and large chalk-scribbled blackboards. The 19 guest rooms (including six suites) have blackboard floors and a green, white, and black color scheme; vintage maps on the walls; black-and-white mosaic tiles in the bathrooms; and do-not-disturb signs that read "Studying Hard/Out Playing (You May Clean the Room)." We recommend suite 18 on the first floor, which is bathed in sunlight from the floor-to-ceiling windows and has a lovely view of the hotel's small garden. The ground-floor restaurant, Cantina da Estrela, has school tables yet the creative Portuguese menu selections, such as balsamic risotto with mushrooms and foie gras, are a far cry from cafeteria meals. The Cantina also offers a unique "make your own price" concept—you choose the price according to your satisfaction with the dish.—Anja Mutić

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
Most visitors to Lisbon stay in the delightful but busy Bairro Alto, Lapa, or Alfama districts, but no one is disappointed when they choose one of the quieter, more intimate neighborhoods—like leafy Campo de Ourique. Here among the trees is a charming 19-room newcomer, run by Portugal's Lagrimas hospitality group to provide hands-on training to students from the hotel school next door. The handsome nineteenth-century palace of the Count of Paraty was most recently a school, and this prior incarnation informs the decor by Miguel Câncio Martins (who designed Paris's Buddha Bar and Lisbon's Heritage Av Liberdade hotel). The reception desks are vintage stone counters from a chemistry lab. Rooms are hung with antique schoolroom charts and maps, and fitted with monochrome carpeting showing a motif of students' drawings, mathematical equations, doodles and scribbles. Spacious and comfortable, rooms have small desks, big TVs, and beds with upholstered headboards that touch the ceiling. Some showerheads are handheld instead of wall-mounted, but bathrooms are spacious and well lit. A pleasant honesty bar and a good restaurant are welcome on nights when you want to take it easy after a long day of hoofing around this hilly city, and there's also a quiet garden out back. —2011 Hot List

Which room to book: Go for the fourth-floor rooms with views over the city and the Tagus River.

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