Seven Luxury Hotels to enjoy throughout Portugal | TRAVEL
- Conrad Algarve - Pine cliffs Resort, Algarve - Victoria Stone Hotel, Alentejo - Hotel Teatro Porto - Six Senses, Douro Valley - Palacio Da Lousa, Central Portugal - Corinthian Lisbon
For a nationwide tour of Portugal from the Algarve to Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon, here are my suggestions for experiencing sheer luxury combining authenticity and style.
Bordered by swaying palm and cypress trees and clusters of roses, the entrance driveway to the Conrad in Quinta do Lago is one of sheer elegance.
Impressive interiors feature a high, dome-shaped ceiling decorated in a floral design with six floors of rooms above encircling the lobby. The hotel was built to resemble a contemporary palace, incorporating distinct Moorish elements.
While such architectural quality made my companion and I feel reverential, any suggestion of stuffy formality was eased by the friendliness of the young staff. Sightseeing over the few days we spent there was made easy with their help.
Guests at this, the first European Conrad Resort, enjoy plenty of leisure activities. During our brief stay, there were classes in yoga, pilates, aqua fitness and core, cardio and fusion strength. There are four swimming pools including infinity and lagoon-style, plus tennis courts, a gym and a spacious spa. As Quinta do Lagos has so many championship golf courses, the Conrad also offers a simulation play area to help guests improve their handicap. This resort hotel also has its own beach, Ancao Poente, with restaurant facilities and a stunning ochre cliff backdrop, with free daily transport.
For more information visit: www.conradalgarve.com
Stretching across 72 hectares, Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve is so vast it has developed a special botanical handbook and walking tour for its guests.
This multi-faceted, 5-star property, also offers diverse accommodation options, 10 different restaurants and bars; a health club, a beauty salon, a children’s village and numerous boutiques and shops.
Accommodation options include rooms, apartments and townhouses in separate designated areas including the Sheraton Algarve; Pine Cliffs Vacation Club; Pine Cliffs Deluxe Villas; Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites; Pine Cliffs Terraces; and Pine Cliffs Residence.
Myriad sports activities range from golf and tennis to football and watersports. Pine Cliffs Golf Course and Academy, a nine-holer of mainly three and four pars, is suitable for beginners. ‘Beach Club and Water Sports Center,’ at the resort’s ‘Falesia Beach,’ focuses on surfing, catamaran sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, jet-skiing and wakeboarding.
For more laid-back guests, the beach itself has sun loungers, parasols, changing facilities and a nearby terrace restaurant.
Children enjoy a special Porto Pirata ‘village’ centering on two lifesized wooden pirate ships. Other facilities include a basketball court, a dedicated children’s swimming pool, a ‘racetrack’ for toys on wheels, a bouncy castle, mini-golf, football, archery, arts and crafts, cricket and aqua-gym. The resort has five separate outdoor swimming pools.
For more information visit www.pinecliffs.com
Once an ‘albergaria’ providing inn-style family accommodation, the Vitoria Stone is now a charming four-star hotel just outside the historic walls of the central Portuguese town of Évora in the Alentejo region.
A low-ceilinged lobby characterized by irregularly-shaped concrete pillars reflect an artistic representation of the intriguing megalithic tombs scattered throughout the region. Large glazed amphorae and black and white photographs of menhirs (cromlechs) on the walls extend the archaeological theme.
Upstairs, corridors leading to the 48 rooms exude a sense of surrealism, an effect created by a glass ceiling and dark walls along the narrow space, with designs made from cork decorating every door.
Highlighting the hotel’s focus on recycling, old throwaway wooden planks have been newly varnished and transformed into headboards, adding a surprising touch of contemporary design. The hotel’s ‘Almendra Spa’ offering facials and massages including a creative ‘Fado music massage,’ is designed using old, wrought-iron fencing.
On the 5th floor is a rooftop terrace bar and large sunbathing area beside an infinity dipping pool.
Access to this 57-room hotel in the Douro Valley is down a narrow cobblestone lane lined with vineyards, cyprus trees and lavender and rosemary bushes.
The renovated 19th century manor house consists of a series of interconnecting corridors leading to rooms, the restaurant, breakfast room, bar, swimming pools, organic gardens and a wine library. The latter, a delightful place to relax, feature floor-to-ceiling books, a funky chandelier-like lighting structure made from bottles and glass-fronted shelves stacked with wines. Wine and port tastings are held here.
A second relaxation room adjoins the wine library with soft sofas and armchairs, a collection of urns, brass wall plates and an open fireside. Here, varnished tables are shaped from recycled wood and framed 19th century prints adorning the walls are creatively ‘touched up’ with modern abstract dabs and brushes of color. An Old World traveling trunk containing a range of board games and a billiard table at the end of the room provide entertainment options.
Spa facilities at the Six Senses Hotel include a heated indoor pool with water jets, a special herb sauna with fresh lavender, lemon grass and chamomile and a steam-room. Holistic face and body treatments take place in 10 separate rooms, either single or multi-day therapies.
Walking through the heavy, copper-colored doors of downtown Porto’s Teatro Hotel is like entering a world of artistic fantasy. This six-floor property is designed to imitate its predecessor, the Theater Baquet, which stood on the same location and was burned to the ground more than 150 years ago.
Design and furnishings are delightfully symbolic of the theater, beginning with the reception desk, shaped like a box office where guests receive a ticket to access their rooms. Colorful costumes hang in the foyer, alongside which are spotlights. The ‘Plateia Bar’ (meaning ‘audience’) features ceiling stage lights and heavy ropes used for raising sets while an entire wall of the ‘Palco’ restaurant (meaning ‘stage’) features a giant vintage black and white photograph depicting the enthralled faces of people enjoying a show. Even the hotel’s entrance doors are artistic, with the words of native, romantic poet Almeida Garrett, entwined on them in gold lettering.
Extending the theatrical theme, bedrooms are termed ‘Gallery,’ ‘Audience’ and ‘Tribune’ and that all-important aspect of the stage - curtains - are everywhere, even lining the corridors. One half expects actors to step out boldly and recite their lines in front of you.
Located in Campolide, the heart of Lisbon’s financial district, the 5-star Corinthia is near a metro station with a direct line to the historic downtown area. It is also close to the Gulbenkian Museum and the Lisbon Zoo.
The building had been a hotel for more than 19 years before the Pisani family of Malta, founders of the Corinthia Hotel Collection, took it over in 2004.
Having an impressive 518 rooms and an Executive Club, the hotel has three separate entrances, convenient for large corporate groups.
The lobby, renovated by London-based interior designers Goddard Littlefair, is spacious and well lighted, its walls and furnishings the work of mostly local artists.
Those seeking both relaxation and physical fitness opportunities are well catered for through restaurants, including ‘Sete Colinas’ (named after Lisbon’s nickname ‘City of the Seven Hills’), tapas in the ‘Tipico’ café, as well as a spa, a gym and a heated indoor pool.
Our suite offered wonderful views over the city, the Monsanto Nature Park and the soaring 18th century Aqueduto das Águas Livres (Aqueduct of the Free Waters). Furnishings in the room even included a most seductive electronic massage chair.
The hilltop, 4-star, 46-room Palácio da Lousa, is a small-town property in a rural setting with a rich 300-year-old history. Located in Lousa in central Portugal, a two-hour drive from Lisbon, this old-world hotel was formerly the palace of the Viscountess of Espinhal.
Such its historical pedigree, its broad cobblestoned entrance-way conjures images of regal horse-and-carriages approaching. Two large Greek urns outside the front doors hint at elegance within.
Our charming first-floor room, number 10, granted panoramic views over surrounding forest and stunning views over the Lousa mountains.
Immediately across from our room was a magnificent elongated salon extending over four rooms with intricately carved doors between each. Here, shelves of books, glass-topped coffee-tables plied with glossy magazines, hanging framed portraits of former owners, comfy soft armchairs, potted plants, funky silk cushions with dog images imprinted on them and an open fireplace bid guests to relax.
Dinner is enjoyed in a cozy first-floor room, resplendent with painted ceiling, wall murals of flowers and plants, cornices, intricate stucco moldings and delicate, hand-carved facades on doors and plinths.
PALACIO DA LOUSA, CENTRAL PORTUGAL
VICTORIA STONE HOTEL, ALENTEJO
PINE CLIFFS RESORT, ALGARVE
SIX SENSES, DOURO VALLEY
HOTEL TEATRO PORTO