Querido Hotels Think Tank
We flew BA from ORD instead of AA to avoid a Terminal change at Heathrow and ride the cramped bus to another terminal. Unfortunately, BA changed the gate the day before and we had to change to Terminal 3 from 5. We prefer the AA Business class configuration much better than BA but to avoid the terminal change we opted for BA. Murphy’s Law I suppose.
We chose to stay in the Ritz Four Seasons just outside the old town but conveniently located. It is a big hotel and all common areas are updated and comfy. However, the rooms are very tired and old. I didn’t even take a photo to share, just wasn’t worthy. The property owners of the hotel, a prominent Portuguese family, just won’t put the money into the building and it has been a problem for the Four Seasons for a long time. But in defense of the hotel, the staff, the service and the food where all excellent in every way. The gym on the roof is killer!! Crazy awesome views and machines with a personal assistant always available. They even have a running track on the roof which is amazing.
The Spa was delightful and the services where better than excellent, and I don’t hand out that compliment easily.
Just make sure you let your clients understand the room product before they arrive. Spacious rooms but very tired like 1980’s tired.
First Stop Lisbon:
Lisbon or Lisboa is a very beautiful city and very clean. Rich in cultural, history and the famous tiled houses. Even the sidewalks are all limestone tiles with beautiful designs. Simply gorgeous. We spent a day doing a walking tour which was extremely interesting, Tours for You. Our guides name was Tiego and he was super smart and very, very good. One of the best practices in Lisbon is all original facade must stay in tack and returned to their original beauty. Although, everything behind the original facade wall is completely new and modern, it does not appear so from the street. Although, while excavating or demolishing the old building and you come upon anything old or historic it must stay where it is, and you must build around it and leave it as part of your new building. As you can believe this is an architect and developers nightmare, since it happens more then you know. The outcome is quite interesting in so many of the new hotels. Hotel One, a new hotel in the middle of old town, is one of the best of old meet new. Bairro Alto Hotel, Lisbon was closed still for the renovation and we were unable to view it.
The food in Lisbon has greatly improved from the last time Tim was there which was about 18 years ago. We ate at three up and coming restaurants in Lisbon.
A Cevicheria is the place to go for the best ceviche ever. It is worth the wait, they do not take reservations. The place is very small, and the bar is just a window open the sidewalk and street and that is where you order a fabulous Pisco Sour. Great Portuguese wine is available too and it’s very impressive. You can’t go wrong with any of the dishes, especially if you like ceviche. Fun young crowd. Also, English is a second language in most of Portugal and they all speak it very well.
Our second lunch was at Mercearia Cantinha by Jose Avillez a 1 Star Michelin Chef, who has four great little spots around Lisbon and they are all very different, this one was more like a small café with some interesting but good food. Sorry about the photos, I forget to take the pictures till I’m half done with my dish.
Lastly, we ate at The Pateo by the same chef. Super hip and busy. It was packed and people still waiting for our 9:30 pm reservation. The front part of the restaurant is more tapas and butcher style, known for the charcuterie platters named Taberna. In the back of Taberna is the restaurant we ate at, The Pateo. There is one more hidden little bar and restaurant named Beco, hidden behind a secret bookcase which is a cabaret and bar with limited seating and only open two nights a week. We were able to view it, but it wasn’t open on Sunday, so we were unable to eat there or have a drink. All of these restaurants accept reservations and are highly recommended.
Second Stop Barrocal:
Just a two-hour drive from Lisbon and a pleasant drive as well, we arrive in rural country side of Barrocal, hotel named Sao Lourenco Do Barrocal, and the moment you step out of the car you can smell the freshness and feel the crisp but warm air. Wildflowers were in abundance every where and the simple hotel which was once a farm house and housed 50 farm hands was decorated with old farmhouse charm and minimalist furniture and style. Rooms are spacious and only have one TV in the living area but not the bedroom. The smaller rooms did include a TV in the bedroom since it did not have sitting area. Simplicity at it’s best.
The bird life in Barrocal was incredible. So many in fact that they really don’t have many insects to worry about, so no screens needed anywhere included windows and doors. The property is owned by one family who was a native of Portugal and lived in London for years and then he reclaimed the land and it took 14 years to restore and turn into a hotel. The farm has horses, one donkey and many livestock. The livestock was not close to the hotel though, so it was not a problem. On the land there are many megaliths on the property which were super cool to see and to learn about from a local historian and archaeologist. He showed us an olive tree that was over 4000 years old and still baring olives. As Carlos would say, Momma Mia!
The star gazing in Barrocal is superb. They hired an astronomer for the final night with a great telescope and we were fascinated to hear and see clusters of stars and nebula’s.
The terrain in and around the hotel is challenging and anyone with difficulties would have problems with mobility. Great family location for people with young children. They have donkey cart rides and a large children’s play area with onsite babysitters. Food is very good, nothing fancy just good old home cooking. The staff is really good, they missed a few beats on somethings but they are a young hotel and they will smooth out the bumps soon enough. The GM Ana is on top of things and was with Four Seasons for 8 years, so the hotel is in very good hands.
Final Stop Comporta, Sublime Hotel
Be prepared to be amazed by your first impression of this hotel. Goncarlo, the owner had a vision and he has created a masterpiece of art that combines nature and luxury almost perfectly. The location is about 1 ½ hours from Lisbon Airport and two hours from Barrocal. Sublime is located about 10 minutes from the ocean with a great stretch of practically untouched beaches. The property itself is mostly sand since many years ago it was part of the ocean itself. The grounds at Sublime are truly exquisite.
Again, this property is not really wheelchair friendly or easy to get around for those who have difficulties. Many of the stairs outside and inside don’t even have hand rails. Tricky at night and after a few drinks.
The property is still under a lot of construction, but they say it will be finished by summer. There are many two-bedroom villas, and single rooms along with Guest House Suites, which is where we stayed. The room product is like a picture out of Architectural Digest. Stunning, with the use of twigs for screens and small bamboo for doors, and live edge wood desk and coffee bar areas. Although, it was stunning, practicality and major details were overlooked. The closet did not have any long hand space from my dresses, no full-length mirror, an AC unit above the bed that had a small light that hit straight in the eye when in bed. I moved to the couch. The biggest problem with the Guest House Suites (8 in total), all the full baths are upstairs, with a half wall divider of glass. Needless to say, privacy was not attainable in the suite. Hear all, see all and no way to keep the bedroom dark if your spouse is sleeping and your using the facilities.
The spa building is lovely and breathtaking, and they have 8 guest rooms in the spa building too. I spoke with one couple who stayed in the Spa Guest Room and they had the same issues. Although the bath was on the same level, there are no interior doors, so again they had to endure the same, no privacy issues.
The housekeeping has many issues too, but I’m sure after all the reports from the Querido Hotels Guests, these issues will be easy to solve.
Food was great and so was the wine and the service. From breakfast service, bar, dining, room service was all excellent.
The group had lunch at the beach, which was amazing. The beaches are practically untouched. About 6 Beach clubs that are small and lovely, no industry, high rises, or homes near the beaches at all. It was truly peaceful and the water was beautiful. We took a quick ride into the small town of Comporta which is small but lovely. Great little shops with unique items and clothes. Some of the shops only accept cash. Best part of the town is the local famous birds, Storks. Their nest are enormous and they are everywhere. Folk tale of the town is young woman avoid looking at the storks in fear of becoming pregnant, or vice a versa if they want to become pregnant.
Keep in mind, the trip from Comporta to Lisbon airport is at minimum 1.5 hours, even thought the staff told us one hour max, which caused Tim and I too rush quickly to our gate as they were in final boarding.
We were delayed out of Lisbon due to weather conditions in London, but only arrived 20 minutes late. Although, we had to transfer from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 and this is when things went bad. Bus line was super long and the assistance at the bus line did not care that our plane was boarding in ten minutes. Once we arrived to Terminal 5, and did the second security screening, passport/customs, we walked a mile to the train to get to our gate. The trains are down, so we had to walk to our gate, about 1.5 miles away and the plane has been boarding for 30 minutes now. So Tim and I, plus about 20 other travelers began the great run through the airport. We did make the plane but neither of us were to happy and we were sweating and exhausted. Once again, we swore we would avoid LHR whenever possible.