Beyond_YXU, London, Canada
We booked Palacio Estoril for two nights over the New Year???s Eve holiday because we wanted to stay somewhere that offered a classic NYE gala celebration on-site. I made the reservation directly with...
We booked Palacio Estoril for two nights over the New Year???s Eve holiday because we wanted to stay somewhere that offered a classic NYE gala celebration on-site. I made the reservation directly with the hotel for a ???superior room,??? but I was hoping to upgrade to a deluxe room or suite with balcony upon check in. (They could not guarantee bed type or balcony in advance, except for the poolside family suites, which did not appeal to us.)
We had the hotel provide our transfer from Lisbon airport. At 80 euros, we felt it was fair value for an arrivals area personal greeting; transportation in a beautiful, brand new Mercedes E class, complete with wifi and bottled water; and a very professional English speaking driver. The trip took only about 25 minutes.
We arrived at the hotel on New Year???s Eve day at 11:00 a.m., so no room was yet available for us. We checked our luggage and went to the Banyan Tree Spa (across from the hotel entrance, but accessible by tunnel within the hotel), where we were able to shower after our overnight flight, and have a bit of a nap by the pool until we were told our room was ready (around 1:30 p.m.). The spa is a beautiful and modern facility, but rather soulless. The cafe was closed, and the changing rooms lacked basic amenities provided by most luxury spas. The robes and sandals were of poor quality as well. But the pool is terrific, and there are steam rooms and dry saunas for each gender.
Upon returning to the front desk, we discovered that unfortunately the hotel was completely sold out, so we were not able to purchase an upgrade. The room we were assigned was on the third floor, facing the parking lot and the street. It did have a small balcony with two chairs, but without much of a view we did not really make use of it.
The room was average by European standards (very small by North American standards), but the architecture and decor were charming. As other reviewers have mentioned, the worn carpet could use replacing, and the pillows could be of better quality. The mattress could also use a pad or topper, as we could feel the surface of it through the thin fitted sheet. We had a hard time finding storage for all of our clothes (especially shoes, some of which had to be placed under the sink in the bathroom). We appreciated the welcome amenity of port and a festive and delicious bolo reis. The insulation must be very good, as we did not hear any noise from the hallway or adjacent guest rooms. Turndown service was provided (towels replaced, slippers set out, chocolates left on the bed with a weather forecast for the next day).
The bathroom was very small but clean. The towels were very heavy and luxurious, and the amenities provided were upscale (Moulton Brown). The tub was too small to bathe in comfortably (unless you are on the shorter side).
The property overall is beautiful and immaculately maintained. There are so many inviting areas in which to sit, furnished with lavish antiques and fine contemporary pieces. The expansive lawn is attractive, and the adjacent pool was actually open, but nobody was using it since the daily highs were just 17 degrees Celsius.
We enjoyed some very well-made cocktails in the dark paneled bar, even if the service was a little slow. Breakfast each morning featured a decent variety of items, although the baked goods were lacking compared to other 5-star hotels we have stayed at. The wait staff were always very friendly and professional, as were the doormen and the maids. (The only staff member whom we found lacking was the Clefs d???Or concierge, who was unable to get us a dinner reservation at Fortaleza do Guincho on New Year???s Day, nor did he suggest an equivalent alternative. I was very surprised by his lackadaisical effort, frankly.)
The New Year???s Eve gala was great fun. It began with a champagne cocktail reception (although I was surprised to see nuts and potato chips offered as snacks), succeeded by a buffet dinner with live music, dancing, and fireworks. We were very disappointed that our request for a table for two was not honoured, but we ended up being seated with a lovely young couple from Croatia who were a lot of fun. The room was beautifully decorated, but the meal was a disappointment. Nothing on the buffet was particularly remarkable or memorable; we ate very little. The fireworks at midnight could be viewed from the lawn, and that was a highlight. And although we remained at the party until 3:00 a.m., by which time 2/3 of the guests had left, the promised midnight snacks had not been brought out. (And someone cleared away all of the little bags of candy violets from our table!)
So while this review may seem a little critical, we had a lovely stay in Estoril, and a memorable New Year???s Eve. We would consider returning to the elegant Palacio Estoril during the summer season to take advantage of the pool and beaches; it is a beautiful community.
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