Rua Jau 54, Lisbon, Lisbon 1300-314, Portugal
It's a little off the tourist trail, but this grand hotel overlooking the River Tagus is well worth seeking out. Formerly home to the Marquis of Valle Flôr, it offers four (very expensive, but suitably lavish) suites in the original palace, as well as more accessible accommodations in more modern wings. The elegant Valle Flôr restaurant has an excellent reputation ($$$) and a cozy bar where you can sip a cocktail and listen to live piano music. Most guests stay in the modern wings, which are arranged around the lush, beautifully maintained garden, complete with pool and sun loungers beneath the trees. Further treats include an esplanade café, a kids' club, and the Magic Spa, which offers an exclusive range of facials and massages. There's also an indoor heated pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, steam bath, and gym.
The hotel is a little hard to find, but free daily shuttles run from the hotel to the city center. Don't worry--the shuttle can just find the hotel for you! No worries.
The very expensive Royal Suites in the palace itself are enormous, with terraces and living rooms, and are exercise in grandeur with their four-poster beds and original period furniture. Four royal suites in the original palace are huge, comprising sitting room, study, outdoor terrace and bedrooms with grand canopied beds and antique furniture. Most guests will stay in the modern wings, which are more functional than flamboyant, but are set in the hotel's lovely gardens. Some Classic Rooms face the gardens, while others look out over the quiet neighborhood. Superior Rooms have balconies overlooking the gardens, 24-hour room service, and direct access to the palace itself. The rooms are decorated in Classic Portuguese style, and have the usual modern comforts such as Wi-Fi and air conditioning. Suites also have Nespresso machines.
Bathrooms have lots of marble detail, with tubs and upscale L’Occitane amenities. The bathrooms in the Royal Suites have a great deal of period grandeur, with ornate lamps and Jacuzzi tubs.
The lobby at Pestana Palace reflects the building's glittering past as a noble residence--the walls are hung with oil-on-canvas renderings of its former owners, and the elaborate stained glass windows compete with antique furnishings and a grand marble stairwell to capture guests' attention. The lobby also shares space with the hotel's rather fancy bar.
The hotel has two pools--one set outside in the gorgeous leafy gardens, surrounded by sun loungers, and complete with central fountain. A heated indoor pool means guests can still take a dip if the weather is less than scorching.
The Magic Spa, which is also open to non-guests, offers a range of face and body treatments, targeting everything from stress and muscle pain to signs of fatigue and aging. The spa is cool and inviting, and its signature aromatherapy treatments range in price from €45 to over €400.
The gym is modern and well-equipped, and there's a sauna and hot tub for post-workout relaxation.
The hotel's fine dining restaurant, Valle Flor, is a destination restaurant for foodies who want to soak up the opulent surroundings as they enjoy their meal. The menu is big on seafood--blue lobster, swordfish, and salmon are favorites, and guests with deep pockets and a taste for the finer things in life can even go for beluga caviar.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The restaurant is not a budget choice. If you're trying to save money, it's just a short cab ride to other lovely (and less expensive!) places to eat.
The in-house bar, Allegro, is as grand as the rest of the hotel, with luxuriously-upholstered furnishings set around a piano, high stuccoed ceilings and antique paintings on the walls. There's an air of old-world grandeur, and attentive staff serve a good range of cocktails and wine by the bottle or glass.
The bar also serves Portuguese snacks--order a few small plates for a more informal alternative to the fine dining restaurant.
Guests staying more than a day or so at the hotel are going to need to take a few cab or Uber rides to get around. It's less than a €10 ride to most attractions in central Lisbon and Belem. There's no nearby metro, but Alcantara Mar train station, with fast connections to Lisbon and the Estoril coast, is less than 25-minutes' walk away. Guests arriving from the airport should take a cab for the seven-mile journey--the hotel can arrange transfers but it may be more cost effective to book independently. At a bus stop across the road from Alcantara Terra rail station (19-minute walk or 10-minute cab ride) guests can take buses out to the lovely beaches south of Lisbon--including those of Caparica and Sesimbra.
It's a bit of a walk (or a cab ride) to any notable places to eat, but guests looking for a radical alternative to the formal ambiance at the hotel restaurant will find ample hipster appeal at Village Underground (12-minute walk) where visitors can join bearded young men and snappily-dressed young ladies to eat in the unusual surrounds of a converted double decker bus perched on top of a shipping container. A little farther into Lisbon, Time Out Market (15-minute drive) requires a cab ride, but is a great place to sample a vast range of Portuguese dishes under one roof.
The hotel may be a little isolated, but it's within walking distance of newly-gentrified Alcantara, with its chic dockside bars and its well-established hipster hangouts. Rio Maravilha (10-15 minute walk) is a rooftop bar-restaurant at LX Factory--a cool-kid-approved collection of shops, bars, and co-working spaces, and is a nice place to sip a caipirinha and admire the view across the river. Nearby, Village Underground throws late-night DJ parties catering to a young, up-for-it crowd, while Santa Amaro Docks (12-minute walk) is a more upscale locale featuring a collection of slick bars set around the waterfront.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Filled with historic charm and period grandeur, this 19th Century National Monument is an elegant spot close to the center of Lisbon, and its resort-style amenities are impressive. The suites of the palace itself are beyond grand, and the gardens are a wonderful place to relax. The bar and restaurant attract custom from across the city, and the service is excellent across the board.
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