Less than a half-hour drive from central Lisbon, this lavish resort situated in the astonishingly beautiful Sintra-Cascais natural park is one of the most luxurious in Portugal. On the site of a monastery built in 1355 and with the Sintra mountains as a backdrop, the resort was once a retreat for Portuguese royalty, today attracts visiting celebrities and dignitaries, wealthy international travelers, Lisboetas looking to escape the city swelter and golfers keen to skills on the world-renowned 27-hole course that occupies large swathes of the immaculately-manicured grounds nearby.
With several dining options, including a Michelin-starred fusion restaurant, the hotel offers extremely spacious rooms and suites, near-impeccable service, and a host of parent-pleasing extras such as an indoor and outdoor playground, a staffed Kids Club, and children's activity packs on check-in. None of it comes cheap, of course, but if budget allows this resort is well worth the splurge.
This resort is a hot favorite with golfers, and guests can take advantage of special offers on equipment hire, classes with first-rate instructors, and even targeted post-golfing massage sessions.
YOU SHOULD KNOW It's a very short distance from downtown Lisbon, but the mountainous location means Sintra and its surroundings have their own micro-climate. Bring warmer clothes than you'd need in the city.
The vast lobby at Penha Longa offers a glimpse of the luxurious stay to follow. Greeted by smartly-attired doormen, guests step through the revolving door to be met by smiling staffers offering fruit infusions and brandishing cooling or warming hand towels (depending on what best fits the weather outside).
The hotel's outdoor infinity pool, set against that spectacular mountain backdrop, will have Instagrammers busy capturing the moment. Surrounded by sun loungers, it's a beautiful spot for swimming and sunbathing on a hot day. When the weather doesn't allow for outdoor dips, the heated indoor pool, with its relaxing hot tub, is just the ticket.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Swimming caps are mandatory at the indoor pool (bring your own or pay a €10 fee to buy one at the spa reception).
The 1,500-square meter spa at Penha Longa attracts non-guests looking for a pampering treat in the countryside and, with its picturesque garden location, it's certainly an impressive space. There are two relaxation rooms, a garden jacuzzi, contrast pool and even a dramatic waterfall with a three-meter drop. Yoga classes are held on a platform over the pool, while two gazebos are set aside for meditation. With so many golfers passing through, it should come as no surprise that many of the treatments aim to treat the stresses and strains associated with the sport.
Guests rarely have to wait in line to use the equipment at the resort's large, modern fitness center, which is well-equipped with plenty of cardio equipment, water coolers, and all the other work out essentials one could hope for.
The treadmills look out over one of Portugal's most beautiful national parks, meaning that runners may well be tempted to clock up some al-fresco miles rather than sweating it out indoors.
With no less than eight restaurants to choose from at the resort, guests could dine somewhere different every night of the week without even leaving the hotel. At the top of the list should be a visit to the Michelin-starred LAB by Sergi Arola (dinner only) whose Discovery menus offer a chance to sample several examples of the chef's star-winning Portuguese dishes. Elsewhere, the dining options range from high-end Italian at Il Mercato, and laid-back poolside cataplanas (seafood stew) at the summer-only Acqua.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The resort is a 10-minute cab ride from the restaurants of Sintra or Cascais, and half-an-hour from those of central Lisbon, so guests should budget to eat at the predictably expensive on-site restaurants at least once.
Guests can sip cocktails at the relaxed B Lounge, which also serves food, and during the summer can enjoy outdoor sipping at Acqua.
The resort is set in nearly 550 acres of prime national park, and strolling or cycling around is a pleasure during fine weather. The resort is a 30-minute drive from Lisbon airport, and more or less mid-way between the train stations of Cascais and Sintra (around 10-minutes in either direction), which in turn are a 25-30-minute train ride from downtown Lisbon.
Nearby Sintra and Cascais both have plenty of dining options, and even when you factor in the cab fare can be more cost-effective than dining at the hotel. One of the best options in Sintra is Incomum by Luis Santos (10-15-minute drive), whose daily Executive Menus are an astonishingly good value treat for foodies that go way beyond standard set lunches. Nearby, Cafe Saudade (10-15-minute drive) is a deservingly busy spot for afternoon teas and cakes during a sightseeing spree in Sintra.
Guests at the hotel can head to Sintra or Cascais for drinks, or take a 25-minute cab ride (or shorter cab ride and train) to sample Lisbon's buzzing nightlife. Some of the city's most interesting drinking options within reasonable driving distance are LX Factory (25-30-minute drive), an artsy collective of indie bars, restaurants and shops in a former warehouse, and nearby Village Underground (30-minute drive), a cool-kid hangout featuring late night DJ sessions and some eye-catching street art.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Situated in one of Portugal's prettiest national parks, this upscale and elegant hotel is within easy reach of the beaches of Cascais and the fairytale castles and palaces of Sintra as well as the many charms of Lisbon itself. Golfers will be in paradise, and kids are extremely well catered for. Amenities are top of the range, there's a Michelin-starred restaurant on site, and the surrounding countryside is a feast for the eyes.