I am not sure if I actually want to talk about this place. I think the Hotel Palácio in Estoril outside Lisbon was my first travel piece 15 years ago or so. There were fewer English and Irish accents then in its lobby or by the pool. Each one I hear now gives me a mental paper cut. I don’t want home following me from home. I miss the days of the wall-to-wall lilt of impenetrable Portuguese.
Work means I’m there a couple of weeks each year. Each of those years has seen the world move on, financial bubbles burst and then bubble up again. But the Palácio is steady as she goes and this beauty stands still – diamonds are forever after all. When I’m there I try to figure out why this place feels so good. The 1930s build and 1960s decor are about the two best times for outdoor and indoor design, the hotel is constantly refurbished where it needs to be but every bone is perfect, and Palácio staff are the happiest I’ve seen. I could walk you through the breakfast buffet blindfold.
They don’t really know what I do for a living despite wine events, large tastings or just lots of me meeting strangers in the bar. The bar where they make perfect martinis, and where a Commander Ian Fleming sketched out the idea of James Bond. I am not sure who Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007 will battle next time around – Ms Sogyny, old age or Donald Farage. But he can prepare for anything with a martini made to his liking and taking the Bond-like underground passage from the Palácio’s 1930s film set into a sparkling futuristic Banyan Tree. The combination of the four-handed therapies delivered by smiling stress assassins, pulling you in all the right directions in the happiest of hidings, and lying there with the knowledge that the pristine Portuguese Riviera and the Palácio’s honour guard is outside waiting for your knot-free body and soul to return is all kinds of heaven.
Palácio Estoril Hotel, Rua Particular, Estoril.
Tim Magee @manandasuitcase
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