Palácio Belmonte

To stay in this 15th century palace in Alfama, the ancient neighborhood around St. Jorge’s Castle, you first have to find it. Despite its bright red doors, this small luxury hotel is so discrete that no one knows where it is.

The palace, one of the few to survive the 1755 earthquake, incorporates castle walls that go back to Roman and Moorish times. It was at one point the residence of Pedro Álvares Cabral, the navigator who discovered Brazil.  Five centuries later, the German director Wim Wenders used it in his movie The Lisbon Story. Sostiene Pereira, a movie with Marcello Mastroianni, was also shot here.

In 1994 the French entrepreneur Frédérique Coustols saw the palace in disrepair during a stroll in Alfama. He bought it and restored it with impeccable sensitivity and taste.

When you stay at Palácio Belmonte, you feel like royalty. Siting in the terrace in the late afternoon, drinking chilled white port and enjoying the stunning views of Lisbon, you quickly realize that it is good to be king.

Palácio Belmonte, Páteo Dom Fradique, 14, Lisboa, Tel: 21 881 66 00,  e-mail: office@palaciobelmonte.com. Click here for the palace’s website.

Areias do Seixo

You ring the bell as if you were visiting a friend’s house. The large weathered wood door opens to reveal a magical place overlooking the sea. Everything feels right: the driftwood benches, the pebble walls, the bare swimming pool, the wood fire burning outside.

You can walk to the beach through sandy dunes and fragrant pine trees to see blue waves crashing on white sand. Or you can drink a glass of wine while the sun and the moon exchange duties.

The restaurant staff make you feel at home while you choose from a small menu that changes daily. The food is wonderfully simple, prepared with great local ingredients: fresh fish, tender vegetables, succulent meat, briny seafood.

We hear that people in heaven like to return to this world to stay for a few days in this boutique hotel near Praia de Santa Cruz.  We have not been able to confirm this rumor. But one thing we know: Areias do Seixo is a little piece of heaven on earth.

Praceta do Atlântico, Póvoa de Penafirme, 2560-046 A-dos-Cunhados, tel. 261 936 340, email info@areiasdoseixo.com, click here for website.

Quinta das Lágrimas

It’s a plot worthy of Shakespeare. Pedro, the crown prince, falls madly in love with a noble lady called Inês de Castro.  His father, King Afonso IV, opposes this liaison. Pedro ignores the king’s will and has four children with the captivating Inês. In 1355, King Afonso IV orders that Inês be put to death.

According to legend, a fountain sprang from the last tears that Inês shed in Quinta das Lágrimas (the quinta of tears).  In the 18th century an elegant palace was constructed on the quinta. This palace has recently been converted into an exquisite small hotel. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself writing a novel during your stay.

Rua António Augusto Gonçalves, P-3041-901 Coimbra, tel. (239) 802 380, email: comercial@quintadaslagrimas.pt, click here for website.

Pousadas

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In the 1940s, the Portuguese government started converting many castles, palaces and monasteries into historical hotels called pousadas. There are now more than forty of these wonderful establishments. They are places where you can sleep and eat like royalty without having to wear funny-looking hairdos or worry about court intrigue.

Click here for the pousadas website.