The Penha Longa hotel (a Ritz Carlton managed hotel) has been a very pleasant surprise in the midst of a market in Western Europe that I can best describe as a ‘complicated hotel scene’. I won’t say that there are not good hotels, actually some of the best properties of the world are located in this geographical area, but these do not come cheap. The rates are normally outrageously high. The service is excellent but one has to pay for what one receives. This gray panorama can become even darker in cities such as Paris, London or Rome. There you either get a cheap place, far away from the attractions or you go splurge and your wallet will not be happy. When one finds a hotel such as the Penha Longa that seems to be almost perfect in most aspects with a very good price one can be considered lucky or one has simply not to think too much and enjoy it. This is what we did this past week.
The Penha longa hotel is located in Sintra, a city already known for being a Unesco cultural heritage of humanity. It is only half hour from Lisbon, but it offers a completely different panorama, it is more like a mountain village with many historical buildings. 10 minutes from the downtown is located the complex of the Quinta de Penha Longa, it is a resort, spa, gated community, hotel and country club. Everything developed around an ancient monastery from the XIV century.
The hotel itself is an impressive building, it was designed with good taste and fine luxury is everywhere without being excessive.
As soon we got to the Lobby we were greeted by our names, and we were ushered past reception –that by the way is a very nice space- as we were conducted directly to our room, which despite of being mid morning was already ready.
Walking around the building one enjoys the solitude and the beauty of the place, they have managed to decorate the hotel combining ancient Portuguese art with modern paintings. There is a lot of marble and hard wood. The room was huge, well appointed, with a wonderful bed and a balcony with a celestial view of the impressive mountains, the golf course and the church. There were little treats in our room –chocolates and cookies- and coffee was delivered every day –complimentary- with more delicious cookies.
There is a Six Senses spa in the property, this is focused on relaxation and therapies. Other facilities in the hotel include indoor and outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, steam, sauna, and a state of the art gym.
The experience of staying in the Penha longa is something similar of being on a personal retreat. One gets the feeling of being alone, but at the same time the personnel try to take care of all kinds of small details, taking note from the first day about ones preferences in eating or even how one likes to set the pillows. Everybody who works here is friendly and very educated and they really try to fulfill the objective of recreating a great vacation.
There are several restaurants on the hotel, and the whole epicurean experience is sensational from a highly gourmet breakfast, to the Italian journey of “il Mercatto” (the in house Italian restaurant) to Arola (the two Michelin stars restaurants)
If the hotel is high class, one will find out even more in the surroundings. Two amazing golf courses, a country club with an equestrian center and infinite possibilities to walk and enjoy nature and mountains. This is a huge property and they manage to keep it pristine.
It is in this kind of hotels that the thought of “can I live here forever” comes to the mind. Even check out is an excellent experience. They packed for us some of the cookies we enjoyed so much during the stay, with a couple of bottles of water and some fruits “for the journey” these are little details that make a place truly fantastic. I am happy for the experience of having been here and I am happy for Portugal as it is a country that deserves to have a place such as the Penha Longa Hotel. With me is still the memory of the fragrance of the pine tree that envelopes the whole lobby, it is Christmas season and even in this they try to do their best putting a huge, beautiful, natural Christmas tree in the lobby, it seems they have not missed out on any detail!