Pestana Palace Hotel Lisbon

Posted in Blog, Europe, Portugal

At the mouth of the Tagus River, about 6 kilometers from the center of Lisbon, is the historic neighborhood of Belem. Belem is characterized by many distinctive buildings and landmarks, including the Jeronimos Monastery built in 1459, and the Tower of Belem. Also found here is a modern construction, an arts complex, the Centro Cultural de Belem, and the Belem Palace, the official residence of the Portuguese President.

The presence of so many beautiful buildings is due to the fact that Belem suffered the least destruction in the great Lisbon earthquake and tsunami of 1755. So the royal palaces and estates from the 17th and 18th century are still intact. Many became embassies—some are still homes or apartments—and one such old palace, the Vale Flor Palace, is now both an official National Monument, as well as a 5-star luxury hotel, and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World group, the Pestana Palace Hotel Lisbon. And this is where I booked us at the end of our Portugal trip.

With 193 rooms and four royal suites, the hotel is exquisite. It was once the palace of the Marquis of Valle Flor, a leading cocoa producer, member of parliament, friend of King D. Carlo, and one of the wealthiest men of the 20th Century.

The palace had become severely deteriorated but still had magnificent stained glass windows, and impressive woodwork, furniture, and artwork, when Dr. Pestana purchased the property. He oversaw a painstaking restoration of the palace and its exotic garden. Restored to its former glory, the Palace opened as a hotel in 2001. The salons are furnished with museum-quality furniture, window treatments and decorations. They hold fine examples of the works of some of the greatest artists of the period including ceiling paintings and portraits by Carlos Reis, one of the great Portuguese artists of the 19th Century.

Our room was in a newer wing and looked out over a lush mature semi-tropical private park. We spent a relaxing day mostly around the hotel, walking in the garden, lounging beside the lovely pool, resting in first one lovely historic salon and then another. We took our breakfast in the ‘Valle Flor’ restaurant, an opulent restaurant with marble columns and an ornate ceiling, which was once the Grand Ballroom. We also had tasks to accomplish, and the friendly and professional service and assistance we received from hotel staff made us feel so grateful, and so well taken care of. All in all, the professionalism and attitude of every person we encountered at this hotel reminded me of what true 5-star service can be and should be.

On our last night in Portugal, the Concierge and the Front Desk Manager took special pains to reserve the perfect table for our last meal. A card was delivered to our room that was our reservation card to present to the restaurant, which was a pleasant walk away. Our fantastic meal at the Solar dos Nunes Restaurant, and the charming, special service we received, will stay in our memories for a long time to come.

It was bittersweet to bid goodbye to our friends at the beautiful Pestana Palace Hotel Lisbon.

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