In 2009 we left Copenhagen with a business plan for a small hotel which we had been working on since our return from a year-around-the-world in 2001.
We had no experience at all in the hotel business.
But after staying in around 2,000 hotels we knew what we liked. Like Helga’s Foley in Kandy, Sri Lanka, Xavier’s place in Chulamani in Bolivia, Chez Silvie in Yangon, Myanmar and a few other cozy gems that had found their ways to our favorite-places-to-stay-around-the-world list because of their charm, ambiance, location and the basic services we find relevant. And most important: because of all the fantastic people we have met there. That’s what we care about – NOT the official stars that is a MUST if you want to open a hotel in Lisbon.
When we arrived in Kathmandu we thought about calling our place Tings Guest House. But the Ministry of Tourism only allowed foreigners to run hotels. We knew that people eventually would call us Tings so we didn’t care.
When we asked industry people in Lisbon for their advice they all said forget about Hotel License – too complicated, too much bureaucracy and too expensive. Instead they recommended us to get a Hostel or an Alojamento Local (AL) license which are easy and fast to get.
Hostels were out of the question – we hate sleeping in bunkbeds surrounded by farting and snoring people. And since AL only allows for 9 rooms and we didn’t want cheat by making 2 separate entrances.
In many of the world’s popular travel destinations most of the top-ranking hotels on Tripadvisor, Google and Booking.com are not officially star rated.
In Portugal you can not run a hotel without joining the star category system – absolutely ridiculous in 21st century.
Think about that.
The Star system is absolutely useless because its not the same from country to country.
In the US commercial companies are behind the star system, in Australia it’s run by The Australian Auto Club, in the UK it’s the Automobile Association and in Europe its The European Hotel stars Union, who runs the system. Nepal is so chaotic that you just give yourself your own stars…
Portugal has their own rules. The main rule is No Hotel License without Stars – they are a must. To get them you have to have as many services & facilities as possible from a list you get from the authorities.
Nothings wrong with that if it wasn’t because many of services either belong to the past or are irrelevant or both. In our case a lift was a MUST to get more than one star. Because our house is more than 2 levels a lift was a MUST if we wanted more than one star. Tings is located on Lisbon’s highest (and most popular) hill: So if our guests can make it to the top – we expect that they can manage the last 2 – 3 floors to their rooms – and we help with their luggage.
We have all the important services travelers need. But don’t expect a bide in the bathroom, TV, mini fridges, laundry service etc from the official Service-List that generate the points you need to get Stars in the Portuguese Hotel Category System.
Of course have most of the ‘star’ services, just ask for them.
Our focus is charm and ambiances combined with the most important conveniences from the Five stars hotels we’ve stayed in during our business travels plus a few services we have enjoyed ourselves on the smaller places that have inspired us: Like our small guest kitchen where long-term traveling food lovers can cook light meals from the super ingredients we have in the local shops around the corner from us.
But that doesn’t count.
Neither do our optical fast fiber internet connection that gives our guest access to their preferred streaming services, all the sockets we have for their mobile gadgets, our common kitchen, our special made 100% cotton bed linen, down duvet, or our home-made bread.
So that’s why Tings Lisbon only have one star.
And we love our star!
Thomas & Annette