How does a Gen Z traveller feel swapping sociable hostels for a serviced apartment when backpacking in Portugal? Arlo O’Callaghan reports

Solo travel can be an incredible way of meeting people from all across the world. However, during my recent trip through Portugal, a break from hostel hopping was calling to me and I happened upon my respite by way of an Ando Living luxury apartment.

Arriving in the vibrant heart of Lisbon, the Baixa neighbourhood, I self-checked in through a door code sent to me on WhatsApp. I led myself and my backpack into the entryway of the restored building of the Santa Justa 77 Townhouse and towards the elevator. In a city like Lisbon, comprised of thousands of steps and endless hills, the lift up to the fourth floor was where the luxuries began.

Entering into my one-bedroom apartment for the next two nights, I was welcomed by sweet diffuser scents, a bottle of organic wine and locally made gourmet treats. Squealing to myself, I ran around my lavish new home, giving myself a tour of the apartment, complete with a cosy bedroom, elegant bathroom, an open plan living room/kitchen and street viewing balcony. Of course, my next course of action was to video call a friend to show it off. Whilst backpacking from hostel to hostel you don’t have much choice but to live the simple life. Speaking to a friend I had made the night before I checked in with Ando Living, we discussed how normally we won’t lay on a bed in outside clothes. Yet in hostels, with your only private living space being a singular twin-size bunk bed, you have to let some things slide.

Needless to say, my free reign of the apartment was a euphoric experience. Costing €210 for the night, this place seems worth every penny to relax and unwind. It certainly gave me the recharge I needed away from the close proximity to eight other humans in my living spaces along the rest of my trip. With hostels averaging €23 a night for me, it’s clear that you get what you pay for in both cases.

The townhouse, owned as a pied-à-terre and managed by Ando Living, is one of nine serviced residences the company has in Lisbon, Porto and Istanbul. The Santa Justa Townhouse has nine apartments. This is a picture of Madalena…

Ando Living Madalena

Ando Living Madalena

With all the luxury of a hotel without the impersonal feeling, I was sweetly impressed by how thoughtfully designed the space was. Not only was the interior design top tier, with beautiful accents and perfectly placed pieces, I couldn’t help but see how they’d thought of everything, making the apartment feel just like home away from home.

From the cosy warm lighting to the sleek Nespresso coffee machine, stocked with caffeinated and decaffeinated pods as well as an array of teas, morning to evening the space balanced comfort with luxury hand in hand. The smallest detail of USB and USBC ports by the bedside tables and the living room work desk (paired with a Euro plug socket) meant that I didn’t have to faff around with an adapter to charge my phone or MacBook. The only major disappointment was no washing machine (although some of the other apartments do have them).Ando Living Santa Justa Townhouse, LisbonWhile staying at such a dreamy place, I almost didn’t want to leave the apartment. Yet with the townhouse so well located, all that I wanted to explore was on my doorstep. With a balcony view of the bustling main street of Rua Augusta, stretching right down to the Arco da Rua Augusta and a peep of the River Tagus too, the Portuguese capital was calling to me and I headed out to explore.

As a former chef, I constantly battle with my pet peeve of blunt knives and lack of what I deem equipment necessities while cooking away from home, especially in privately owned Airbnbs. However, with Ando Living I found a fully equipped kitchen even down to baking equipment. With a supermarket just a short walk away, I was able to put a classy spin on a staple of the backpacker diet and rustled up some garlic and aubergine rigatoni with a rich tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella and rocket; there wasn’t a jar of pre-made basil and tomato sauce in sight.

Putting the joy back into cooking abroad was entirely unchallenging in the open-plan space. I happily made use of the Marshall sound system playing the hand-picked Ando Sounds smooth jazz playlist on Spotify and to top it all off, I was able to throw everything in the dishwasher, making the tidy up effortless.Ando Living Santa Justa Townhouse, Lisbon Ando Living Santa Justa Townhouse, LisbonStreet performers and their audience filled the street below on both nights of my stay, making it a fabulous spot for people-watching as Bella Ciao was sung with pure human lust for joy and connection. Yet with a close of the balcony door, the night fell silent and starfishing in the queen-sized bed couldn’t have been more rewarding.

VERDICT:

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Lisbon, especially with the Ando Living team always on hand via their WhatsApp chat hotline (with real humans!) to answer questions and relay advice and recommendations instantaneously. Ando Living adds a different air to short-term apartment renting, providing a hassle-free, sleek stay in premium accommodation. The only downside was no washing machine.

PRICE:

€150 to €650 per night depending on the season.