Is Pensão Amor (the Guesthouse of Love) Lisbon’s coolest bar?
There are two entrances to Pensão Amor in Lisbon’s revamped Cais do Sodré. One of them leads directly into a parlour stuffed with upholstered chairs, mirrors, lamps, and pictures and sculptures of naked women. Scattered around the room as if tossed aside are feather boas and sequinned bras. The ceiling is adorned with images of nude men frolicking.
The clientele, thankfully, are fully clothed and contentedly sipping their drinks and chatting with friends.
The other entrance on Rua Nova do Carvalo leads up an old stairway with crumbling plaster and saucy paintings, leaving you in no doubt as to the origins of the establishment.
Although Pensão Amor used to be a brothel, and still has many of its original features including furry walls, it’s now one of the most popular bars in Lisbon. It attracts a slightly older crowd than the Bairro Alto bars, possibly due to slightly higher prices, or it could be the comfy chairs – if you want a seat, you should get there before 10 pm at the weekend. Drinks go up by a euro after 10 pm which is another reason to arrive earlier.
Early in the evening, the main room is fairly empty but as the night progresses, it fills up with revellers as the DJ gets into gear. If you’re not in a dancing mood, take your pick of themed rooms to hang out in – there’s the sparkly pole dance room, a tented space and a furry room.