What is it? A grand, late 18th-century townhouse on the Portuguese capital's answer to Paris' Champs-Elysees that has been given a makeover by designer Miguel Cancio Martins. Martins is responsible for creating other hip hangouts, such as the Buddha Bar in Paris, New York's Man Ray and Strictly Hush in London, so expect the unexpected. What he's delivered here is a taste of Lisbon's historic charm, albeit with an exterior painted in vivid Portuguese blue, fused with the urban sophistication of a boutique hotel. Inscribed with flowing verse, even the lift doors come with attitude and going up, anonymous muzak is replaced by house grooves and images of turn-of-the-century Lisboa. What are the rooms like? The French doors opening onto wrought-iron embellished balconies are pure 18th century but the 42 sleekly stylish rooms resonate with 21st-century chic. Furnished in colours that create warmth and familiarity, there's a rich interplay of modern textured furnishings and classic damask designs. Like Lisbon's fashionistas, the beds are impeccably dressed and accessorised with a comforting pillow menu. Complimentary toys include flat-screen satellite television, wireless internet connection and DVD and CD players, and the chalk-white bathrooms are filled with Molton Brown toiletries. What about dining? Lisbon's signature Pombaline azulejos (tiles) decorate the lobby interior, where a healthy continental breakfast is served in an intimate atmosphere. Twenty-four-hour room service is on offer but why would you bother when there's such a stellar selection of cafes and restaurants on your doorstep. Lisboans eat late and the restaurant scene doesn't crank up until 10pm, so select a district such as Santos, where minimalist-cool Cop'3 dishes up nouveau cuisine, or glam up for a night at actor John Malkovich's acclaimed Bica do Sapato on Infante Dom Henrique. Are there other treats? Classics by Leo Tolstoy and Charles Dickens, as well as Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, share shelf space in the mezzanine-level library with the latest fashion, travel and art glossies. In the basement, visitors can raise their heart rate in the modest fitness room or swim in the indoor pool before marinating tired muscles in the jet pool. Rewards can include hitting the designer stores that line Avenida da Liberdade, strolling through quirky Bairro Alto or taking the Gothic Santa Justa elevator to the cosmopolitan Chiado district. What's the bottom line? A standard double twin room with en suite and bathtub starts at Euro260 (HK$2,700) per night while a Heritage room is Euro446. Heritage Av Liberdade is at Avenida da Liberdade 28, Lisbon, Portugal, tel: 351 213 404 040; www.heritage.pt/heritage_av_ liberdade.html.