Pestana Palace Hotel, Lisbon
We arrived at the Pestana Palace Hotel in style – a limousine from the airport. Not our normal transport, preferring to use the airbus or the metro, but Pestana is well out of town in the Alcantara district of Lisbon and I could only spot the number 18 tram on the map, that called anywhere near the hotel. Situated high up overlooking the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge, the Pestana Palace five star hotel is set in beautiful lush tropical gardens and lives up to the word ‘palace’ in its name, not only for the splendour of its public rooms, but also for the service of its staff. They make you feel like a duke or a duchess and their attention to detail is amazing.
We were upgraded to a beautiful room that overlooked the sculpture-packed gardens, only an enclosed walkway away from the original palace building. The upgrade was probably due to the hotel being relatively empty and it is also an inducement to first time guests to return. It was a quiet room well-furnished in the French style with original 19th Century paintings, which permeate the entire hotel. However, visitors need to be aware of the early morning incoming flights that pass over the hotel from about 7.30 am. In saying that, most flights into Lisbon’s airport, pass over the city at some point. This did not spoil our stay in any way. Our room (#2122) had all the expected five star facilities including bathrobes, a good hair dryer, comfortable armchairs, a well-stocked minibar and, for that rainy day, an umbrella. We had a ‘room service dinner’ on one evening and our room was quickly transformed by an attentive waiter to create and serve a romantic meal for two!
Breakfast in the former palace ballroom was a gastronomic experience, with choices that ranged from fresh fruit, salmon, cheeses and freshly cooked omelettes. The waiting staff regularly topped up coffee cups and glasses of fresh orange juice, resetting cutlery after every visit to the buffet. Never mind feeling like a ‘duke’, I felt like a ‘king’. Multi-lingual staff were plentiful and made every effort to remember your name. They were pleased to please their guests!
Don’t worry about the trip into the centre of Lisbon or to any of the important sites and monuments of the city, the hotel runs a regular free shuttle bus, four times each day. The seven seater people carrier operates on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis (no advanced reservations) and has a route that encompasses Belem, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Castelo de Sao Jorge and the shopping area of Rossio. Return pick-up can be arranged with the impeccable dressed driver, who will also help you with maps and directions. We used the facility on two days and it made our stay at an ‘out of town’ hotel very convenient. One couple took advantage of a free trip into the city centre to catch the metro to the airport.
While there is the option of eating lunch and dinner in the hotel’s exquisitely furnished restaurant, serving Portuguese delicacies, it is expensive. (There is a set menu available at 60 euros per head) Apart from our rooms service dinner, we ate-out every evening, but it was quite a long walk down the hill towards the riverside to find local reasonably priced eating places.
Pestana Palace is also a hotel to be enjoyed all year round but in the summer months one can benefit from the beautiful outdoor swimming pool, set amongst the tropical gardens, or the oriental inspired outdoor cocktail bar. If the hotel is good enough for Bob Geldof, Madonna, Tony Blair and Hilary and Bill Clinton, to name but a few celebrities that have stayed at the Pestana Palace, then it is good enough for me! We will certainly return in the future, despite seeing a mouse in the bar! (It must have climbed in from the lush tropical garden).