by Angela Fairhurst
Located in Alfama, the heart of the historic district of Lisbon, is the unique and special boutique hotel, Palácio Belmonte. Since 1449, the palace was a noble family residence where the The Earl of Belmonte, Cabral and the Marquis of Atalaia lived. Surrounding the walls of Castle of São Jorge, Palacio Belmonte overlooks the red rooftops of the old city and the Tagus River. It’s an ideal location for those who seek a quiet, beautiful and tranquil space and an ideal home base from which to explore the city of Lisbon, its architecture and rich cultural life. Guests are welcomed through large red front doors that reflect the energy, strength and passion of the place.
Repurposed in a labor of love by Frederic Coustols and his wife Maria Mendonça, it took 6 years of meticulous restoration using traditional building techniques and products to convert the 15th century palace into a boutique hotel with only 10 exclusive suites. The result is an authentic and luxurious hotel that looks and feels like a multi-level family home. Preserved within the Moorish towers and Roman walls, each of the suites are named for a Portuguese writer, artist, philosopher, adventurer, inventor or ecologist and are individual masterpieces with their own personality and character.
More than 3,800 distinctive blue and white 17th century Portuguese tiles (azulejos) were restored. Numerous antiques have been sourced from the same period and blend with modern conveniences, art, sculptures and beautiful carpets. All suites are equipped with fully modern marble bathrooms and natural ventilation.
The Belmonte is intimate with no crowds, no noise, no chocolates on the pillow and no television. Relax, read or dream while on one of the terraces or in a sitting room or library, by the black marble swimming pool, or in the lush Mediterranean garden designed and planted according to organic principles with usable and numerous local species, plants, fruit, trees and flowers. Yes, there is internet, but more importantly is an opportunity to breathe in the atmosphere of fresh air, space and light.
Palácio Belmonte prides itself on delivering memorable, unique, customized experiences for their guests. Experts in the surrounding area, the dedicated and imaginative team will make sure a visit to Lisbon presents an authentic stay. Arrangements have been made for everything from a fabulous sunset in a yacht on the Tejo River, a private tour to unique architectural features of old Lisbon, or to top local artists’ ateliers. Perhaps your own private Fado singer, a special day out with wine and olive oil tastings, riding Lusitano horses in the Alentejo, or something as simple as an elegant meal. The Leopold Restaurant, under the tutelage of chef Tiago Reio, serves innovative cuisine.