Originally built in 1449, three defense towers rise from ancient fortified Roman and Moorish walls and provide a bird's-eye-view of Alfama and the river Tejo. One of the most beautiful and romantic hotels in the world, visionary Frédéric Coustols restored the palace to its former glory, transforming ruins into an architecturally and culturally sound tribute to Portugal's rich history.
A heavy red wood door is the only indicator that you have arrived at the palace. As it swings open, time travel seems almost possible. Quietness resonates and only the footsteps of the front desk attendant may be heard echoing on the stone floors as he patters to greet guests. Take a look around at the simple furnishings. Every detail is carefully selected to tell a story. The ego mirror hanging to the left of the entrance is the visitor's first glimpse into Coustol's genius. Stare into the glass and notice your image is not present. Rather, you are invited to see a world without the weight of personal self-importance--the reflection is of the beauty around you. This perspective is the key to relishing the beauty and the imperfections of thousands of years of history preserved within the palace's walls.
Sit in silence and beauty from the vantage of more than 380 windows and doors offering glimpses of urban landscape and the ports that brought the Portuguese explorer fame during the Age of Discovery.
From a stoveless kitchen, diners are rewarded with a creative menu in an intimate setting.
MARIA URSULA BALLROOM
The most exclusive place in Lisbon to watch the sunset. Order champagne and sit among the 18th century blue and white tiled walls as the sky changes from pink to orange to maritime blue and the street lights of Alfama begin to flicker like evening stars.
There is the magnificent architectural story of the Palácio Belmonte and its rich historical context. There is also the story of a French man whose life's passion is quintessentially Thoreau: Frédéric Coustols learned early on how to "suck out all the marrow of life." Philospher, historian, ecologist, archeologist, conservationist and philanthropist, Coustols brings the palace to life simply by being present. Who better to describe the toils of breathing life into ruins than the man who oversaw several years of painstaking restoration? On top of the hill of Saint George's Castle, Coustols missed no detail. The facades, walls and roofs are held together with traditional lime mortar and the 59 panels of biblical tiles, azulejos, taken down, restored and remounted. Every stick of furniture and artwork chosen to complement the history of the palace. All of this chosen by a man who staffs the palace with refugees, the white haired, quick witted Coustols has not told, but rather shown, what it is to use one's talent and resources to do good in life.
"Do you know why I had an interesting life? Because I didn't care what people thought."
TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
heart of alfama
Center yourself at the pinnacle of Lisbon's colorful cultural district.
ENTER URBAN PARADISE
A black marble pool and stunning organic concept garden provide a serene reprieve from the bustle of Portugal's capital.