What We Love
- The organic Mediterranean garden on site
- 18th-century azulejos (traditional blue-and-white ceramic tiles) in each suite
- The black marble guest-only pool, which sits in the shade of an orange tree
- DIY gin and tonics at the self-serve bar in the lounge
What To Know
- The property, which dates all the way back to 1449, is a living relic
- A room-service breakfast of pastries, cold cuts and juices is included as part of your stay
- The royal interiors are a draw for the global fashion set, including Christian Louboutin, who has declared it one of his most beloved haunts
- The Ricardo Reis terrace suite features a small kitchen
In many ways, this underrated citadel, in the silhouette of the Sao Jorge Castle (one of Lisbon’s more popular tourist attractions), mirrors Portugal’s quilted history. Though it was built in the 15th-century, Belmonte’s walls were constructed during the Roman and Muslim occupations, its former residents include the nobleman who is credited with discovering Brazil, and an impressive collection of Japanese and African artifacts hint at the country’s long colonial legacy. None of the accommodations include televisions, but chances are the enchanting public spaces, which feature period oil paintings and an unmatched panorama of Lisbon’s terracotta canopy, will give you enough to gawk at. For a dose of local culture, request an alfresco fado concert or pour over one of the 4,000 leather-bound books on topics like ecology and philosophy in the open library. Though the three-story Bartolomeu Gusmao suite (named for an 18th-century priest and naturalist) is certainly the most lavish with an octagonal living room and its own balcony, the other nine are far from shabby, radiating fairytale-like charm from their antique tapestries and winter gardens.
In the Area
Perched atop one of Lisbon’s legendary seven hills, the palace is just a zippy tram ride (recommended, or else you’re in for a tiring trek) from the cobblestoned streets of Alfama, shaded with the city’s Arabic heritage. Recommended sites here include the Baroque-style National Pantheon for its 360-degree city views and the Fado Museum, a comprehensive audiovisual ode to Portugal’s most famous musical expression. Don’t miss an evening cocktail at Portas do Sol, just five minutes from the Belmonte. If you’d like to take things up a notch, the palace’s superb staff can arrange for a private sunset sail along the Tagus River.
How to Get There
We actually did not know what will expect us : we thought it will be a standard 5 stars hotel as promoted ...
It is not
For example there is no actual parking there and using a rented car becomes an adventure.
The hotel does really impress by style : there are a lot of spaces where one may spend time relaxing reading ,etc
We had a suite with a bedroom located in a tower wherefrom there has been a panoramic, terrific view of the surrounding area including the Tagus river estuary.
But to get there we had to step over a narrow , winding, strait stairs. The way up started , strangely from the bathroom which was large but with no walls whatsoever .
On the other hand there has been the nice possibility to have breakfast on a terrace overlooking the river
The most important advantage of the hotel's location is its proximity to the St George castle and the old Alfama quarter
Finally : most of the negatives are compensated by the extraordinary kindness of the the few people who attend the front desk combining the functions of reception, concierge , bellboy ,etcetc
The Palacio Belmonte trades mainly on its beauty and a promise to make your stay as unbusiness-like as possible. On both counts it is wholly successful.
Unfortunately if you're not a hotel you're a house, and this is not a well-run house. Now on the second day of our stay, the mishaps keep coming: our airport transfer was not arranged, noone knows whether our laundry has been done, our breakfast table was moved without warning to a dark corner, noone is ever entirely sure what the reservation status of our restaurants is, the shaving kit was not sent, the gin bottle in the bar is empty, etc. etc.
What is sad is that so much of this is fixable. The staff are without fail utterly charming and with the right training are obviously capable of doing wonders. The house is beautiful but the often questionable decorative choices could be put right with the right eye.
The balance between charm and efficiency is never easy. The Belmonte seems to have decided that because it offers the former, it can eschew the latter, and charge through the nose for it.
The hotels is in desperate need of reconstruction and management change. We left after one night, even though we paid for two. What a waste of great view and perfect position. We got "family suit" with very low ceilings. Ceiling in on of the bathroom did not allow my sons to stand while using the toilet. In general I can say that this place seems to be reconstructed about 40 years ago and no work was done since. Our breakfast table was set up not on one of the sunny terrace but in the corridor next to the door other guests used to access their rooms. The 4 of us got each one egg (sunny side up instead of ordered scrambled eggs) and each got one piece of bread. We eat while others pass by, including the, probably, owner smoking a cigar. He asked my sons if they got pancakes already. I have no idea what he was talking about, while smoking a cigar...