Sleep like royalty in a Portuguese palaceSintra, Portugal
Famed for its castles, palaces and wild gardens, the tiny town of Sintra is one of Portugal’s shining stars. Experience it just like a royal, with a stay at the luxurious Tivoli Palácio de Seteais. Built on a hillside in the 1780s, this five-star, 30-room estate has been lovingly restored to resemble a palace of centuries past. Days can be spent soaking up the Portuguese sun by the infinity pool with fresh lemonade, crushed from the fruit in the gardens, delivered to your day bed. This is a prime spot to see the sun set over the ocean too or, better yet, opt for a suite with your very own terrace, and watch as the Atlantic sends mist swirling over the famous Pena Palace on the mountain above you.
Wander the halls lined with priceless antiques and carpets worth as much as your university degree and kick back with a book – perhaps by Lord Byron, who wrote of Sintra as a “glorious Eden” – in one of the sitting rooms. At night, chandeliers illuminate the frescoes on the walls and music from a harpist or pianist dances in the air.
You’ve probably guessed it by now – Seteais is so beautiful you won’t want to leave, but exploring the UNESCO World Heritage town before the crowds arrive is one of the best parts of a stay. Then there are the hotel’s activities... Helicopter flights and horse riding adventures are all on the cards, but if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground head to the striking cliffs that form the westernmost point of Europe. Your guide, selected from Walk Hike Portugal, will share secrets of the area with you, including lunch at a local haunt where you’ll devour a feast of clams, prawns and fish chosen from the day’s catch, before rolling you back to the pool. Yep, a day trip to Sintra is far from enough.
- The incredible service from staff who seem to almost outnumber guests
- It’s the type of place workers dedicate their lives to, so you feel like a distant but much loved relative staying at a grand family manor
- At a regular hotel a buffet breakfast is usually a sorry affair but the morning spread here is enough to make you swoon
- All the tapestries and sculptures make the hotel itself a work of art
- The weather in Sintra can be unpredictable, so if the sun is shining don’t put off taking a dip in the pool – you might not get another chance
- Extras like tea by the pool will set you back about US$6
Getting to Sintra from Lisbon, the capital of Portual, is incredibly easy. The journey takes an hour and the round-trip costs about US$5.
- Nespresso coffee machines in room
- Air conditioning
Doubles from US$290 a night, including breakfast.
The general manager takes guests around the property on a guided tour a couple of times a week. It’s a fantastic way to learn about the history of the palace (and also hear which celebs have checked in).