In a class all its own
By Don Heimburger
Portugal is considered Europe’s oldest nation. Lisbon is the capital and the largest city in Portugal, and its history can be traced back to ancient days, first as a Greek trading post and later as a Roman municipium.
In the early Middle Ages, Lisbon was occupied by the Visigoths and later by the Moors. Alfonso I reconquered the city from the Moors in 1147, and during the next several hundred years Lisbon developed as the capital of the kingdom and as a trading center.
So that’s the quick history of Portugal and Lisbon, but what’s new? Well, there are a number of new hotels in Portugal that you may want to keep in mind when traveling there. Here’s a European Traveler rundown:
Lx Boutique Hotel – Lisbon
The Lx Boutique Hotel is the newest inn in Lisbon, located in the Cais do Sodré district and minutes away from Chiado and Bairro Alto. The $7 million hotel has 45 rooms, each with a theme related to Lisbon, from the Tejo Persona (Fernando Pessoa lived in the building for some time, and it was the once the famed Hotel Bragança), Fado, Seven Hills and Bairro Alto. With its location near the historic districts of Lisbon, it is ideal for those who want to discover the city.
Hotel da Estrela – Lisbon
The Hotel da Estrela, first hotel of the Lagrimas Group in Lisbon and a new hotel for the School of Hospitality and Tourism of Lisbon, is located in the Campo de Ourique, in the historic Palácio dos Condes de Paraty. The four-star project, designed by architect Miguel Cancio Martins, includes 19 rooms with three meeting rooms, a restaurant/bar, a garden and an event space. The training aspect is one of the points highlighted, and part of the staff will be final-year students.
Oitavos Hotel – Estoril Coast – Lisbon Region
The Oitavos, a new luxury hotel, opened in the fall and is located just 20 minutes from Lisbon. The hotel features 142 guest rooms, a golf course built around sand dunes and saltwater swimming pools. This nature-inspired property is located on the family-owned Quinta da Marinha estate, within the Sintra-Cascais National Park. www.theoitavos.com/
CS Vintage Lisboa Hotel – Lisbon
This five-star hotel includes 55 rooms, vintage restaurant, spa, indoor pool and latest web technology. It is located in the city center, just minutes away from Avenida da Liberdade.
Altis Avenida –Lisbon
The Altis Avenida is a charming new hotel in Restauradores Square, the historic heart of Lisbon’s city center and the main shopping district. All 72 rooms are equipped with the very latest technology and designed with 1940’s décor, maintaining the original combination of styles, fabrics and furniture. The hotel is a place where the past, present and future meet in a glamorous and sophisticated atmosphere. The bar and restaurant on the top floor provide a magnificent view over the city and is the ideal meeting place for those looking for the true feel of Lisbon. www.altishotels.com
Inspira Santa Marta – Lisbon
This four-star, green-designed hotel is in the heart of downtown Lisbon. It provides prime comfort and hospitality, intertwined with the latest in wellness and sustainability. Feng Shui reflects the mood and is the main theme of the hotel. Located just off of Lisbon’s main Avenida da Liberdade, the hotel has a total of 89 stylish guest-rooms designed around Feng Shui themes such as earth, fire and water. The restaurant features Mediterranean cuisine and show cooking, all made with freshly prepared ingredients.
International Design Hotel – Lisbon
This four-star hotel is located at Rua da Betesga in Lisbon. Urban, Tribal, Zen and pop are all design themes exhibited by the hotel’s unique rooms. The hotel is located on one of the oldest streets in Lisbon, Betesga, whose origins go back to the 15th century. www.internacionaldesignhotel.com/
Altis Belém Hotel – Belém – Lisbon
A new boutique hotel in Belém by the Altis Group, known for the quality, sophistication and professionalism, is opening a new hotel in the Lisbon area. It is located near the Bom Sucesso docks, an important tourist area. This new, luxury boutique hotel features 42 high quality rooms and a restaurant serving Portuguese cuisine. Hotel Altis Belém also features a bar and terraced café, spa and meeting rooms. www.altishotels.com
PORTO & NORTH OF PORTUGAL REGION
Six new hotels, restaurants and museums are among a few of the new offerings from the Grand Harbor, located around the World Heritage Center. Hotels include the five-star The Yeatman, the four-star Teatro, the Intercontinental Hotel, the hotel Star Inn Porto, the under-construction four-star Inspira Flores Hotel and the Carris Porto Ribeira.
Hoteles Rail – Porto
Hoteles Rail, a Spanish hotel chain, has a new four-star hotel located in the heart of the historic center and close to the Douro River. It features 90 rooms, with a business-meets-modern concept. The investment created more than 300 jobs in the area, and the project is a part of a focus on the recovery and reuse of historical buildings in Porto.
Vidago Palace – Vidago
Celebrating its centennial, the 70-room and suite Vidago Palace officially reclaims its place as one of Europe’s great historical resorts. Located within a 250-acre estate, an hour from Porto, Vidago Palace has been extensively renovated and restored over the last two years. Embracing its Belle Epoque heritage, Vidago Palace is a majestic Portuguese country house with all the services of a world-class luxury hotel.
The Yeatman – Porto
The Yeatman opened its doors as the first five-star hotel in the Portuguese city Vila Nova de Gaia. All the rooms overlook the spectacular Ribeirinha Porto and are decorated in a classical style. The hotel is committed to protecting the environment and devotes half of the property to elegantly-crafted gardens, including an olive tree more than 1,300 years old, a butterfly garden and endangered plants attracting an array of bird species. The hotel is integrated into the landscape, mimicking the slopes of the Douro River. It offers a total of 82 rooms, as well as the master suite hotel that is separated from the rest of the building and can be accessed from the garden. www.the-yeatman-hotel.com
CENTRO DE PORTUGAL REGION
Casa da Insua
This five-star boutique hotel is a converted 18th century, baroque-style manor in Penalva do Castelo. Located southeast of Porto, it features an impressivea façade and gardens. It features 21 rooms, nine suites and three one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments. On-site facilities include a restaurant, museum, reading and game rooms, a chapel and a wine-tasting room. The hotel also has a selection of rooms and spaces available for meetings and other events. Prices include breakfast. www.casadainsua.pt
Casa das Penhas Douradas
Located at the heart of Serra da Estrela National Park, this hotel features some additional new rooms totaling 18, a spa, restaurant, heated pool and bikes. The rooms are wood birch-paneled with large windows and verandas, offering a stunning view of the mountains. Each room has an LCD television, a DVD player, and an iPod player, providing a home-away-from-home atmosphere. Casa das Penhas Douradas is located minutes away from the airport. Prices include breakfast.
Vila Galé Coimbra
The city of Coimbra has the new four-star Hotel Vila Galé Coimbra. This hotel is located in the Coimbra historical center, overlooking the Mondego River. www.vilagale.pt
Martinhal Resort was officially inaugurated in what is being touted as Portugal’s first high-luxury family resort in the Algarve town of Sagres. Located on the rocky, southwestern point of Portugal, Sagres is where the first caravels were launched during the Age of Exploration. Today, the town boasts breathtaking views of the Atlantic, many of which can be seen from the Martinhal Resort’s houses, cottages and luxury villas. The theme at this five-star resort is “Barefoot Luxury,” and the staff aims to provide a relaxed experience. All rooms have private terraces with ocean views. The on-site restaurant, O Terraço, sits atop the pavilion and offers guests the option of enjoying a simple coffee or a full gourmet meal while overlooking the sea. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the protected lagoon, which is part of the Costa Vincentina Natural Park. www.martinhal.com/
Real Marina Hotel & Spa
Real Marina Hotel & Spa is a luxury resort overlooking the Ria Formosa, a protected natural reserve. Contemporary yet traditional, the hotel caters to both the leisure and business traveler with full use of facilities for each segment of the market. Accommodations include 132 double-rooms and 12 suites. Facilities include two restaurants, two bars, heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools (including a children’s pool). www.realhotelsgroup.com
Longevity Wellness Resort Monchique – Condo Hotel
The Longevity Wellness Resort Monchique was inaugurated as being a green facility with a focus on wellness and relaxation. Properties here are a mix of vacation homes and rentals. The development is in the Algarve’s mountains located around the picturesque town of Monchique, with both mountain and coastal views. It has 195 one-bedroom apartments with amenities such as outdoor and indoor swimming pools, restaurant and bars, driving range and putting green, library, cinema and the Longevity Anti-Aging Spa. www.longevitywellnessresort.com/
Hotel da Vila
Located by the beach, this property offers 16 rooms of simple yet elegant design that mixes blue Portuguese tiles with ancient wood to create a chic and rural concept. www.hoteldavila.com/
For more information on Portugal, go to: InsidePORTUGALtravel.com.