Historic Elegance at Palacio Belmonte (Lisbon, Portugal)
Built on the fortress walls of the medieval São Jorge Castle, Palacio Belmonte the oldest palace and the city’s first hotel in Lisbon. The house had been in the same family for more than 500 years. It is a stunning building, a 2197-year-synthesis of Portuguese history and culture. They rediscovered all the different layers of construction, hidden frescos, walled rooms and found fabulous archives, letters of queens and kings of Portugal, an escape dating from the Roman time leading to the Tagus, cisterns, Roman tower, and original 18th-century Azulejo tiles during the process of renovating the palace to a hotel.
This intimate 10-suite palace feels like the most opulent b&b (bed and breakfast) in the world. Not the kind of place where guests are confined to their room, this is a palace all to yourself (and a handful of other guests, of course). Of course, there’s the orange tree-shaded saltwater swimming pool. It’s pretty easy to get lost in this vast hotel seeing the various beautiful rooms like the white library with a fireplace and crystal chessboard; a red library lined with shelves of leather bound books and cushy chairs to read; a stunning ballroom that has touches of modern light fixture and art pieces; and terraces that faces various parts of the city.
The suites are gorgeous. My traveling companions stayed at the namesake suite, Belmonte Suite, is a cozy two-level room with multiple windows that open to the stunning view of the Tagus and a large black marble bathroom which the bathtub is built in an old tunnel to the castle.
I was fortunate to stay in the sensational three-level Padre Himalaya Suite. It first opens to a small foyer with an ancient sculpture, followed by a charming living room then a short stairway to the spacious marble bathroom outfitted with a shower and a large soaking bathtub. Up the spiral staircase, leads to the large bedroom that has multiple windows that open up to an amazing 360-degree view of Alfama. I’ve truly gotten the sense of history within and without, including views of Lisbon’s stunning historical landmarks such as the Pantheon.
After having the most peaceful sleep, I woke up early in the morning and saw the sun slowly peaking out in the horizon and sipping my cup of Nespresso (there’s a Nespresso machine in every suite), it’s the kind of relaxing morning that rejuvenates the soul.
But don’t think that is just your morning here. Breakfast is made to order. We originally hoped to dine outside in the garden under the shade of orange trees but it was too chilly and windy. So, our hostess placed us in the romantic drawing room the has doors open to a terrace viewing the garden.
Seeing the maids (who wore the black and white maid uniforms) setting the table with food and pouring the glasses of orange juice and coffee, I felt like a pampered royal. The food was very tasty and our cups of coffee were strong. The bread basket was filled with warm rolls and croissants. The cheese curds formed into cylinders were fresh and delicately sweet. I was very happy with my plate of creamy scrambled eggs and my traveling companions were equally happy with their fried eggs that have runny yolks with the orange-yellow color of the morning sun.
If you want to stay in a hotel that feels like a fairy tale, Palacio Belmonte is it. If there’s a con for staying here, it’s located in the restricted historical zone makes it difficult to find taxis or parking, and the traffic crawls.
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Pátio de Dom Fradique 14
1100-160 Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 21 881 6600