10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Feel Like Royalty at the Palacio
"My husband and I recently returned from a stay at The Palacio in Estoril. Whenever we are in Portugal, we make a point of staying there as we, as well as all the other guests, are treated royally. The hotel exudes Old World charm. The rooms have all been recently refurbished, equipped with a bathroom that is larger than most New York City apartments. The bed was wonderfully comfortable - affording us the best nights' sleep during our entire European vacation. We were sold on this hotel a few years back - after choosing it mostly for it's location. The hotel is situated in a lovely resort area only 20minutes from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon, with easy access to the Lisbon airport. It is just a few feet from a world class casino and a block from the beach. Although we initially chose the hotel for its location, we came to love it for a myriad of reasons: The hotel is steeped in history. We learned that during World War II, The Palacio served as a spot where the Americans conducted surveillance on the Nazi's that had taken over a nearby hotel. Over the years, the hotel has accomodated many heads of State as well as entertainment figures, but what truly impressed us was what we learned through a conversation we had with the doorman. He told us he had been with The Palacio since 1952 and that the hotel was still owned by the same family. That family, he said, made all their employees feel part of their family. It shows - in spades. You won't be disappointed.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the sumptous breakfast buffet. It too is fit for royalty. If bacon, eggs and pancakes are your thing - they have that too. But if a variety of exotic cheeses and fruits, smoked salmon, fresh baked breads, rolls, pastries and cakes, home made yogurts, juices, jams, etc., etc., beautifully displayed in an elegant ballroom and tended to by a courteous, multi-lingual staff is your thing, this is the palacio for you."
- Travel date: Mon 20th of August 2007
A fine hotel with lots to offer...
"The Hotel Palacio is a fine old school hotel with a great history and is now updated for the 21st century. Earlier reports indicate out of date decor etc. Let me put your mind to rest - this is not an issue anymore. The hotel is rated 5 stars - this can mean almost anything these days. However, the Palacio probably is. Probably? Let me explain...
The only real negative is and let me stress that it's not really that bad, but the room (standard) was a tad small.
However on with the positives, it was luxuriously appointed with a lovely big bed, flat screen TV with lots of channels, dressing table, mini bar, and walk in closet. The bathroom was a decent size too with a great bath/shower and 'Molton Brown' toiletries. Some rooms had small balconies but ours did not. We did have a nice enough view of the garden/pool and the Caiscais coastline though. This was at the rear of the hotel - ask for here. The front is not up to much.
Next the pool and gardens; At the rear is the pool and a lovely big mature garden. The sun lounges were very comfortable - teak and not that tacky moulded plastic. The pool was a really good size but and amazingly, freezing cold! They pump chilled water into it to keep it cool and refreshing - took a bit of getting used to! There were two pool guys on hand help with towels, cushions and parasols. There was also a poolside bar with drinks and snacks on hand - very pricy as was already highlighted by another reviewer. There's also a kids club with playstation etc.
This brings me onto food. The buffet breakfast was pretty decent and is included in the price. Plenty on offer - hot and cold and kept us going for the day. Most important though - fresh juice!
We also dined in the Hotel's restaurant - the Four Seasons. A very nice old world dining room with silver service, good food and a nice wine list. Worth a dinner and is reasonable value. The centrepiece of the room is an open grill where the chef cooks lobster steak and other seafood.
The Four Seasons is probably the best place to eat in Estoril. You should note that There's not a whole lot in Estoril. Caiscais is where it's all at but more of that later. The big thing in Estoril is the Casino. I'm not best place to offer an opinion as I'm not into gambling but it was worth the look. It is huge and is certainly glitzy and flashy with loads of different games and slots. It all looked a little sad to me though. There are a number of bars and restaurants there though. I should highlight that we had our worst dining experience in years in their Chinese - The Mandarin. Reviewed in many places as Portugal's best Chinese and offering a fine dining experience - it was truly awful. Our food had to be sent back twice as was cold and the quality for their high prices was shameful. They even had the cheek to 'microwave' the returned food to be nuclear reactor hot! Perhaps we're spoiled with 'quality' Chinese restaurants in Ireland! If you're Irish and you've eaten in Wongâs - it was as expensive but a million miles away in terms of quality and presentation. The other restaurant/bar was decent enough - food and drink was good value and tasty.
Finally, location. The Hotel is located a couple of hundred yards from the beach, train station and Casino and apart from a few other Hotels, a couple of small restaurants and few shops (including a handicraft market) that's about it. Caiscais is where it's all at. There's decent shopping, narrow streets with bars and restaurants, a marina a sandy cove with beach and some very nice hotels. Do not under any circumstances go here without visiting 'Santini's' Ice Cream Parlour!!! It's also really easy to get to from Estoril. It's a lovely walk along the promenade - 15/20 minutes. It's also a couple of minutes away by train - really regular and a euro or so each way and if you're wearing your heels a â¬4 taxi ride door to floor! My observation is that while there are some lovely hotels in Caiscais, they were really tight on space - the 5* Albatroz case in point. It's also become really build up. Estoril, while just as built up is more spacious.
Other things to consider; Lisbon it 20/30 minutes away by train and serviced by a decent metro and tram system. Then there is the huge 'Caiscai' out of town shopping centre. There's everything here. Everything. â¬5 from the Palaicio.
So, we stayed at the Palacio as a package - booked it last minute with Sunways. With a little forward planning I'd recommend booking under your own steam. Flights, transfers by Taxi ((or even limo! (30 minutes)) and room rate works out much cheaper (as in a few hundred euro) than any package and given the mayhem we experienced at the Airport on the return leg, courtesy of a cheapo charter operator, I'd avoid the package and make my own way.
This is one hotel I'll definitely return to and I'd recommend it to anyone. Enjoy!"
- Travel date: Mon 20th of August 2007
"We have stayed at the Palacio before because of its location and elegant swimming pool. Previously the hotel had felt a little run down and the staff somewhat demoralised but the overall package was acceptable.
They have now refurbished the hotel and it is back to its five star heritage.
We were particularly impressed by the staff. There were some problems with one of the rooms but these were dealt with straight away. Nothing seemed too much trouble and the staff were extremely helpful and friendly.
The breakfast is acceptable but could be better. They could check that fruit is ripe and the hot trays regularly replenished. But this is the only negative comment.
We were delighted to see this famous hotel back to the condition it should be in and with staff that are the equal of any establishment round the world."
- Travel date: Mon 30th of July 2007
"What a spot. Lovely lovely hotel. Staff very friendly and not all over you like in some five star hotels where they would nearly blow your nose for you. Breakfast excellent. Didn't try the restaurant so don't know what lunch & dinner were like. Lovely pool area with a poolside dining area. Rooms and corridors a little like the Dorchester in decor. No bad thing. HOWEVER, Estoril is really just a bend in the road. If you want somewhere with a bit more character, nice shops, etc. go on a little ways to Caiscais. Lovely restaurants, shops, and great choice of hotels on your doorstep with a little marina as well. Couldn't fault the Palacio though. Booked direct on the hotel webside. E200 per night for a room with breakfast 2 sharing. Really really good value."
- Travel date: Thu 28th of June 2007
loved the palacio
"After reading some of your reports we were a bit dubious but the hotel is going through a refurbishment programme. The rooms are lovely all newly decorated with large t.v.screens and beatiful bathrooms. We stayed there for 10 days and loved it, this is our 4th time in the area but the Palacio is the best.
We ate in the Four Seasons, delicious. Service throughout the Hotel excellent.
We also had the buffet lunch. Breakfast was a treat from champagne to smoked salmon.
We will be back. The air conditioner works too!"
- Travel date: Wed 31st of May 2006
"My wife and two children - 20 & 4 months- stayed for 3 nights. Good things:
- the staff. Very friendly,speaking great english - from chamber maid to concierge to bar staff. Very attentive to our needs for our children- hot milk, non menu food for the little one, and just generally pleasant;
- the food in the Four seasons. Very good and again had no problem accomodating for the needs of our children. Had no issues with our 20 month old running around.
- the location. Easy walk to the beach and Cascais; as well as other modes of public transport.
Not so good:
- general,& room decor is dated and very '70s/'80s, felt we could have been in a Cinzano advertisement.
- room temperature was quite hot. A/C does not work and had to leave the windows open with the consequence of early morning outside noise waking the kids up.
- Estoril golf course is in poor condition. The greens are ruined, the fairways are poorly maintained, the tees uneven and poorly maintained and most surprisingly course etiquette and tee-time mangement rubbish - a 5 ball behind me.
There's a refurb programme pending for the summer but this is not a 5* Lux-whatever that means these days. With apologies to hard working,diligent staff, choose another Hotel in the area."
- Travel date: Wed 11th of January 2006
A little threadbare and showing its age
"Although I must agree with the other reviwers that the service here is excellent, there were more than a few detractions that made my stay a less than completely satisfying event.
The good stuff first:
1. The staff is wonderfully attentive and helpful with all manner of things.
2. The location is absolutely perfect as it is only a five minute walk to the train station, beach and casino.
3. The rates aren't that bad compared with others in the area.
4. The attached Four Seasons Restaurant (Not affiliated with Four Seasons Hotel, I believe) is excellent.
Now the not-so-good:
1. The room decor seems 70's in its style and in its level of wear-and-tear; the carpets are worn thin, the bed linens are clean, but frayed and have a few holes here and there. The furniture is dinged-up, with a few chips and worn spots. A very small TV (13" I'd guess) on an old, out-of-place rolling stand had a remote with the numbers and letters worn off. The shower had a half-coverage, swinging(!) glass door that merely attempted to keep vast quantities of water off of the bathroom floor.
2. The place is HOT. I was there in November, but had to leave my window fully open to the traffic noise in order to have a resasonable temperature (the A/C didn't seem to make a difference, it just kind of circulated the air). The hall outside my room on the fourth floor HAD to be 95F (35C) - unbelievable.
3. I booked their 3-Day golf package, which includes one round of golf on their course (about 2 kilometers away) per day. Even though I had three rounds included, I used the course only once and paid extra to play elsewhere as it was in terrible shape; patchy greens with dead spots and some bare dirt, shallow and wet sand in the bunkers (though it hadn't rained in a week), hundreds of unpatched divots and patchy spots in the fairways, etc. Not enjoyable for me although it has had a good reputation in the past, I was surprised.
All in all, I gave the hotel a neutral/average rating, with the level of service saving it from a lesser rating, but I wouldn't stay there again - there are a lot of other choices in the area."
- Travel date: Sat 19th of November 2005
Top Service makes this a great place to Stay
"Just returned from a bank holiday break at the Hotel Palacio. Its a long narrow building built in 1930 and decorated in period fixtures and fittings. The rooms are large by European standards with well-proportioned bathrooms. Some of the rooms at the back have balconies though apart from the 5th floor these are quite small.
The Hotel has a fantastic pool area and whilst we were there it was always possible to get a sunbed. As one would expect with a 5 star hotel the service is impeccable. As soon as you approach the pool someone will follow you to place a padded mattress onto your chosen sunbed, align it with the sun, open your parasol and provide you with clean towels. When refreshments are required a lift of the finger will have the pool bar staff scurrying to take your order and return with it to your poolside location. No plastic glasses and paper plates here.
The Bar area is reasonable and spills out onto the terrace overlooking the pool. The same level of service is guaranteed as it is with all the staff at the hotel. There is the Four seasons hotel attached to the hotel, though we did not try it the menu looked excellent and reasonably priced.
Another bonus of this hotel is the parking. Free parking in and around Cascais and Estoril is not easy to come by and the hotel has a large car park at the front. The hotel is perfectly located alongside the Estoril Casino, though there is no rear exit to the hotel a shortcut down the side will have you in the Casino area in minutes. If you head to the underpass outside of the tourist office then you can be on the beach in 5 minutes and there are lots more bars and restaurants on offer here. I recommend the Villa restaurant highly.
If you wish to get to central Cascais you have 4 options, drive - about 5 minutes but not easy to park, walk along the beachfront - recommended - about 20 mins, get a taxi - about 4euro or get the train/bus. We used the taxis several times and had no problems with extra charges or unmetered charges as has been noted by other correspondents for Lisbon.
Finally a couple of tips. For all your water and snack needs there is a well stocked supermarket on the road in front of the hotel. If you do go to Cascais by car the best place to park for short visits is in the Jumbo supermarket. you will see it by the lights as you enter Cascais. The first 3 hours are free and you cna usually get a space if you drive around a bit and keep a lookout for people leaving.
Secondly if you hire a car and plan to drive via the motorways a better option is to take the coast road. The views along the coast from Lisbon are much nicer than the steep sidings of the motorway...and finally to get to the hotel you will need to take the Casino turning and loop back on yourself as the road in front of the hotel is one way."
- Travel date: Mon 29th of August 2005
"This Hotel was beautiful! Old World elegance is evident throughout. We felt very pampered through our entire stay. The rooms were very nice, clean and comfortable. The staff, very friendly and professional. The pool area was very well kept. The location ot this Hotel is excellent.
Just a short walk to the beach, the train station, Casino or shopping.
I would go back to Hotel Palacio Estoril in a heartbeat!"
- Travel date: Thu 9th of October 2003
Step into another time
"I had seen a picture of the Palacio and found that the rates were not that much higher than many normal hotels in the world. I had a fantastic stay. WE were there in late May and the weather was perfect. The place is not air conditioned so beware that Portugal can be hot in the summer. The place is not for those who want the ultra modern, but it has a unique faded charm that was enchanting. The beds were nice, food very good, they have their own wines which the 2000 vintage was wonderful. They did have an internet connection and the walks through the woods and the half mile of calla lilies and tree ferns was the best. Go, go, go if you ever had a chance. I drank wine on he gorgeous tracery of a porch and thought it does not get any better than this."
- Travel date: Tue 10th of June 2003