Just how baby-friendly do you think a visually stunning place like this can really be?
Well, I was in for quite a surprise.
There are a few words that technically shouldn’t appear in the same sentence. In this case, “toddler” and “whirlwind trip”. Our goal was to just spend much needed family beach time in Portugal’s Western Algarve but we decided to swing by Lisbon for a short overnight stay before pressing on.
Mostly because Lisbon is one of my favorite cities in terms of ambiance and culture, and no one needed to twist my arm to return, but also because it was a wonderful opportunity to check out the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Ritz and go behind the scenes of its signature kitchen as well.
Any trip I take with my 19 month old daughter – a bonafide traveler in her own right – requires some semblance of pre-packing at least two days before, let alone spending less than 24 hours in a major city. So I knew ducking in and out of Lisbon was going to be a major challenge. We arrived into Lisbon on a Friday evening and had to fly further on to Faro – our gateway to the Algarve – the following Saturday evening. Everything needed to go as smoothly as possible.
Yet another word – “smooth” – which normally isn’t paired with the word “toddler.”
Upon arrival, we were picked up from the airport and whisked off to the Four Seasons where, from that point on, the word “smooth” started slipping back into our family vocabulary.
Here are a few photos and notes from our short but sweet stay at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon that showed me just how family-friendly it is.
We were provided with a sturdy wooden crib and TV complete with kids’ channels. Our king-sized bed was so soft and fluffy she could jump on it to her heart’s content. I also appreciated the creamy little Pastel de Belém egg custard tarts which were waiting for us upon arrival. They were the perfect late night snack for her.
The key to a happy toddler while traveling is finding a way to entertain them. Constantly. From vibrant large puzzle blocks to coloring books and crayons – all hers to keep, she entertained herself while we dug into dinner. Once she started getting cranky (our late dinner was around 10pm), what I really appreciated was that our host at Hotel Ritz’s swank Varanda Restaurant offered to carry and walk her around, all the while within our sight, as we ate.
Toddlers are usually finicky eaters so I loved that there was a wide variety at breakfast to choose from. Fresh fruit, yoghurt, and berries. Cold cut meats, smoked salmon, and cheeses. Sweet baked pastries and buns. Omelettes, sausages, you name it.
And of course, pancakes.
I never felt like I had to keep apologizing if my toddler ran amok or was touching things, and the staff radiated so much warmth when it came to dealing with children. From the patient waiters who kept picking up things she dropped and didn’t mind washing pacifiers and baby mugs, to our host the night before who became an impromptu babysitter while we ate.
She ran and ran, rolled on their carpeted hallway, climbed up and down stairs, threw her food all over the place, and was just free to be a toddler.
Quick Tour of Lisbon
Since we had only about four hours after our hearty breakfast to take in what we could of Lisbon, we opted for a quick rooftop tour to maximize our time.
But alas, she fell asleep barely 10 minutes into the tour. As toddlers do.
While we were at Hotel Ritz, I also got into its kitchen to witness seafood art being created by Chef Carlos Gonçalves. Honestly, I could watch professional chefs style and plate dishes all day long. Here are a few snapshots. A full photo essay will be published on Four Seasons’ Taste blog as well.
Note – I’ll occasionally be contributing to both Four Seasons’ official Family and Taste blogs as one of their participating bloggers so my stays and meals will be on a complimentary and/or discounted basis.