Picture yourself in a hotel that was once the main residence of a 19th-century nobleman, the Marquis of Valle Flôr, a well-traveled man of refined taste. After his death, the building was left abandoned for more than 60 years, until being purchased by the Pestana group – who saw a diamond in the rough in this Petit Trianon of sorts. But only in 2001, after being designated a national monument, did the building open to the public as the Pestana Palace. It became the crown jewel of this hotel corporation, and it is considered one of the world’s best luxury hotels. Madonna, a former guest, can attest to that.
The 91-metre tall giant hides within its walls one of the most effective staffs you will ever find (they even have a medical department). Its 369 rooms will make you want to move in. We don’t even mean the ten executive suites, whose generous areas make them larger than many Lisbon apartments; the standard rooms are breathtaking enough in its style and luxury features, such as Bang & Olufsen LCD screens, marble bathrooms and delightful beds by Sheraton’s exclusive brand, Sweet Sleeper. Only the Club Rooms include breakfast, free wi-fi and access to a panoramic lounge with a bar and light meals service, the place where we suspect VIPs go to dodge meetings. In other rooms, the buffet breakfast (you might as well call it lunch, considering the absurd amount of available hot and cold plates) costs 23€ and Internet access costs 15€ per 24 hours (there’s free wi-fi in public areas).
This hotel lies within the Kasbah-like lanes that make up Moorish Alfama. Expect some of the city’s best views of Alfama’s characteristic church spires and red roofs from its sleek terrace, with inset pool, which also overlooks the Tagus River. Friendly service includes a free daily guided-walk around Alfama’s narrow streets and a well-stocked library with books on Lisbon. Rooms are pleasingly simple and some overlook the river. Breakfasts offer typical cakes and pastries, and the Wine Bar offers regional fare including octopus salad.