In the palatial seaside suburb of Estoril, most restaurants and bars are within walking distance. While the Palacio isn’t quite ‘on the beach’, the closest stretch of sand is within yards. The grand Casino Estoril is adjacent to the hotel, and the local station for trains to central Lisbon (25 minutes) is around the corner.
Rooms either look out on to the Atlantic or the casino gardens, and some look onto both. As far as I could tell there isn’t a bad room in the hotel, all with giant beds and high thread-count Egyptian cotton linen, of course. The rooms also have extremely large wardrobes – a hangover from the war era, when guests were more long-term, I’m told.
The grand, marble lobby is fitted with period furnishings and freshly picked flowers. There’s also a very pretty manicured garden outside.
Eating and drinking
The Grill Four Seasons restaurant serves high-end local and international fare in super-smart surrounds. Plus there are light snacks served by the pool. I particularly liked the freshly-baked delicate little pastries that were served with afternoon tea at the Bar Estoril – a classic chequered-floor and brass bar, which felt unchanged for decades.
The outdoor pool is set in a garden bursting with flowers, while the hotel betrays hints of the 21st-century in the new Banyan Tree spa, where an array of Asian-influenced treats and pamperings are available.
The classic service is flawless. I loved listening to the concierge proudly boast of his cameo in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which was shot in the hotel. 40 years on, he still gushes over the tale as if it’s the first time he’s told it.
Who stays there
Apart from war-time spies, all-sorts, really. Lots of families visit in the summer and golf enthusiasts in the winter.
Apart from the usual difference between seasonal pricing, this hotel is reassuringly pricey throughout the year.
- Culture vultures
- Families with teenagers
- Families with younger children
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- Plenty of history