Rooftop bars are one thing… but a 400-metre rooftop running track? Now we’re talking! I’m at the Four Seasons Ritz in Lisbon, studying the city’s historic landmarks whilst working up a sweat.
By my third lap, I have spotted the Moorish castle of São Jorge and the Torre de Belém. This beats a guide book any day! Just as I cast my eyes on a rickety tram lurching up a hill, I’m called inside by my PT for some foam rolling.
The air conditioned gym is a delicious contrast to the scorching heat outside. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels divide studios for Pilates and TRX, whilst the main floor is packed with sleek Life Fitness ellipticals and TechnoGym SkillMills. Hotel gyms don’t get much better than this!
As my PT takes me through a circuit of weighted squats and split lunges, I quiz her on Lisbon’s fitness scene that appears to be limited to corporate clubs and the occasional CrossFit. No boutique studios as of yet. But surely it’s only a matter of time?
The again, why would Lisboans confine themselves to a studio when they are 20 minutes from some of Europe’s best beaches? I’m told Guincho and Costa are the best surf spots.
I finish with a blast of cardio on the stairclimber before heading to the spa for a “Portuguese Retreat”. A deeply sensual eighty minute treatment comprised of a foot bath, almond and honey scrub followed by a rose oil infused massage. My therapist and I make a strained attempt at conversation but I leave her hands to do the talking…
I practically sleep walk to my room, complete with L’Occitaine amenities, 18th-century furnishings and cold pressed juices chilling on ice. I lounge in a fluffy dressing robe and manage to keep on top of my emails thanks to the speedy wifi.
Did I mention there’s zero time difference? Another reason aside from the sun, surf, cosmopolitan culture, historic architecture and low cost of living that makes Lisbon such an alluring prospect for London entrepreneurs…
Shared work spaces such as ‘Second Home’ are already starting to attract Brits in search of better work, life balance.
For a taster of Lisbon life, you can try the ‘Summer workation’ package where you’ll spend a week connecting with a creative community and enjoying a wellness package including yoga and surf lessons.
I hear it can be found floating above the Time Out Market in the historic Mercado da Ribeira…
The next day, after a breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon at the Veranda restaurant, I decide to pay a visit.
The light-filled, plant packed space is definitely conducive to creativity. Here they believe that physical and psychological wellbeing is a way to nurture creativity, which is why they host regular yoga and Pilates classes for members, a run club, and weekly surf classes. Er, when can I sign up?
If you’re not quite ready to make the plunge, they have other sites in Spitalfields, London Fields and Holland Park. Why not try a roaming membership?
After a tour I head downstairs to the Time Out market – a popular Portuguese hangout that attracted over 3m visitors in 2016. It’s like walking into the pages of the magazine with food and cultural experiences based on editorial curation.
On their recommendation, I sample a selection of charcutaria from Manteigaria Silva. They say the cured queijo da Serra cheese is a particular treasure here. It doesn’t disappoint. Especially when paired with a glass of red wine.
I spend the rest of the day navigating narrow cobbled streets, resisting the urge to take a Tramcar to give my aching legs a rest. Time again I am lured back to the bohemian quarter of Bairro Alto, the nightlife hub of Lisbon with a backdrop of spellbinding architecture.
Often referred to as a city of superlatives, Lisbon is one of the sunniest, least expensive places in Europe with a cosmopolitan culture and rich historical past. What more could you want? One minute you’re at a trendy food market, the next you’re exploring the gothic ruins of an old church.
One such ruin, Carmo Convent, provides a haunting backdrop to Largo do Carmo. A calm, tranquil square lined with Jacarandas that becomes a regular haunt for a lingering Sangria. I make it up to Miradouro de São Pedro just in time to catch a stunning view of the city at sunset.
For dinner I pay a visit to ‘Sea Me’ in the heart of Chiado for grilled prawns washed down with a chilled Vino Verde – deserved after pounding these hilly cobbled streets.
The following night, I base myself at The Corinthia. What this hotel lacks in rooftop running tracks it makes up for in the spa.
This urban refuge is spread over 3,500 square meters with 13 treatment rooms, a heated indoor swimming pool, and a multitude of sensory experiences; from showers, jacuzzis and saunas to steam baths, bucket showers, a cold plunge and ice fountains! It’s easy to while away an entire afternoon in here…
I pay a visit to the Technogym fitness centre to trial the ARTIS treadmills that have different race modes suited to the marathon runner or track athlete. If you have a ‘Mywellness’ account you can keep track of all your activity via the app. It also links to devices such as Runkeeper, Strava, Polar, Garmin and MapMyFitness.
There are lots of Personal Trainers on hand and a range of classes including a Running club, Sunrise and Sunset Stretch (both complimentary), as well as Mindfulness and High-Intensity Interval Training.
I head to the pool for a dip and pick up a mandatory cap for €2.50. It’s just a shame that these 5 star hotel pools aren’t outdoors. For Brits that rarely see the sunshine – it is something of a necessity. Tip – for an outdoor pool, head to the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade hotel.
The Corinthia hotel is the perfect base for the business traveller who will benefit from the Executive Club Sky Lounge and exceptional customer service.
I received a private breakfast, all-day complimentary refreshments, canapés and daily newspapers (as well as a birthday cake and champagne – totally unprompted!) You’ll also benefit from private use of a boardroom with concierge services on tap.
With more time I would squeeze in a visit to the coastal town of Cascais for some surfing and SUP. Hotel Albatroz and Hotel Farol both come highly recommended. Who knows, maybe after a bit more training I’ll return for the Lisbon Marathon in October…