I know it’s not winter yet, but now is the time to start booking travel accommodations for summer. My husband and I (along with our boys) are planning on visiting Portugal in 2018. So maybe it was kismet when photographs of Palácio Belmonte appeared in my Pinterest feed. Palácio Belmonte, located in the city’s historical center is the oldest palace in Lisbon. Built in 1449, the property remained in the same family for 500 years. The new owner, Frederic Coustouls purchased Palácio Belmonte in 1994. Costouls and his wife Maria spent six years overseeing a restoration that transformed the property into a ten room boutique hotel, giving the castle new life by adding modern conveniences without sacrificing the historical integrity of the structure. The result is breathtaking: Centuries-old hand painted blue and white Portuguese tile panels (azulejo), frescoes, vaulted ceilings and wood floorboards provide a gorgeous backdrop for antique and modern furnishings, contemporary art and rich accents of color. To top it off, the views are stunning, with guests of the terrace suites being able to take in Alfama and the Tagus River beyond.
When I first saw photos of the hotel, I assumed it was a private residence. That's probably why the hotel appealed to me--I prefer to stay in intimate properties that don’t feel like hotels. Instead, I look for unique spaces infused with history, character and great design. I don’t want a generic hotel room, I want an experience. I want to feel as if I'm at home. And doesn’t everyone want the proverbial keys to their own castle (without the upkeep)?
Condé Nast rated Palácio Belmonte as one of the coolest places to stay in the world. I’m putting it on my list of places with heart; one of those special properties, born out of dreams, passion, dedication, and love. Thankfully there are people like the Costouls who recognize the importance of preserving historical buildings while simultaneously creating a space that feels authentic, fresh, and new. Luckily for us, they've opened their doors to share their vision with the world.
*All photos via PALÁCIO BELMONTE
Páteo Dom Fradique, 14
1100-624 Lisboa, Portugal
GPS: 38º42’44.44’’N, 9º07’54.51’’W