Words and images by Rosalind Milani Gallieni

Since my last visit to Lisbon in 2017, I can safely say there is a whole new vibe finding its way around town, like a beautiful but determined old ivy plant, still keeping a grip. It’s found its way into the cracks of history and heritage of the old buildings it has been growing on for years, but now, at the same time, it’s suddenly growing a new energy into the city. This energy is sending out signals to the newcomers, both millennials and “grown up” millennials (!) who are enjoying settling into ‘‘La Vida Portugues.’’ This comes with ease and comfort, as they find the relaxed pace of the city resonates with their nomadic kind of lifestyle. When meeting one of these new ‘‘residenti,’’ the question is never ‘‘where do you live,’’ but ‘‘when do you live there?’’ (Wherever that might be – Miami, London, New York, Nicaragua or Tulum….)

The business of Uber is naturally the preferred mode of transport for this digital jet set, and they are buzzing all over the place, phone in hand, to find Joao, Ricardo or Monica, who pull in to pick them up for a 10 minute drive for 3 Euros. If a taxi is not your choice, there are also the new red Uber bikes to move about on, in a cool red designer style….powered, I hope! Tuk-Tuks are also an option (although they primarily take the tourists down the obvious, well-trodden routes). Incredibly, congestion has not yet created a problem, despite an annual parking permit on the roads costing all of just £17 per year. What’s not to like with all these options to get around?!

Life starts around 11am, generally speaking, but not so in the Instagram-designed breakfast cafés, like ‘‘Dear Breakfast’’ and ‘‘Cherie Paloma.’’ With their green indoor designer fronds and palms, mirrored ceilings and white-washed rustic walls, they have become instant digital meeting points, and true hubs of activity. This is where life gets going earlier, despite the clientele’s late nights. No kids and prams get in the way; only backpacks and totes – always large enough to carry your entire business everywhere. The morning news is about sharing images of the night before, and to get around to liking and responding to all your friends’ social media posts. The buzz is bringing the community together. It’s soaking up and enjoying this pace of life, with this elegant grande dame of a city as a spectacular backdrop.

This is where the new generation is at work. Macs, Androids and tablets are on the tables next to the healthy green matcha morning brews, and the cutest dogs join the breakfast meetings. Scrambled eggs with fresh chives, and French toast options keep you going until the evening, when you might then choose to head to one of the ‘‘illegal’’ underground Chinese restaurants. These are always family-run, Pam Bristow tells me. An international luxury brand consultant, she is now settling into the city having left New York, and says they are the best in town – a wholly realistic foodie experience….that is if you can find the doorbell!

Wonderfully elegant dinners in the newly opened JNcQuoi – the epitome of design, good service and style – now turn into dance parties when the DJ hits the decks on the lower ground floor, in between the Assouline bookstore and the temperature-controlled cigar bar. The dinner/DJ mix makes a great combo for the atmosphere at Praia no Parque, too. Food, drinks and fun (says it all!) come in abundance, and this is where in winter and summer, an old 1950s lido-esque structure houses an über-cool restaurant, which opens out onto a huge pool for the fashionistas and the like to hang out. They serve the most exquisitely fresh menu in the name of innovative dining. And fear not, if you are still peckish you can book a midnight steak…. All the while, the sea roars along the coastline as it has done forever, and a good healthy walk up and down the length of it, or up and down the beautifully cobbled streets, is just the ticket to clear one’s head after these kind of #aboutlastnight evenings! And a word to the wise while we’re on the subject of the cobbled streets – leave your heels at home!

To slightly manage the influx of young international entrepreneurs sensibly, Lisbon has cut the number of Airbnb locations by half, in order to also respect the business of the hotels and the local community who will otherwise move their grandmothers out, in order to rent out a gem of an appartamento, with parquet floors and fireplaces! Our favourite place to stay, however, is Hotel Valverde, although it is currently under expansion with plans to reopen in 2020 with 48 rooms and a brand new bar.

Lisbon – it’s changing. It’s moving on. It’s very attractive for the cost of living too. Probably not for long, but if you can shape your life in order to live here for at least part of the year, it’s no bad thing! Next up is the long awaited all-new ASIA dining and membership concept coming up by style gurus JNcQuoi, so where do you live? Or rather, when do you live there? 

Further Information:

Dear Breakfast – www.dearbreakfast.com

Cherie Paloma – www.cheriepaloma.com

JNcQuoi – www.jncquoi.com

Praia no Parque – www.apraia.pt

Hotel Valverde – www.valverdehotel.com