When arriving to The Belmonte we hear guests saying: “We read wonderful reviews about Palacio Belmonte and saw beautiful pictures but never expected this , it’s absolutely amazing!” Or “We travelled to the best hotels in the world and never saw something similar”.
Also from returning guests: “What a feeling it is to be back in this house, standing there looking at the 8 meters high ceilings with their eyes closed”.
And what to say when a child of 10 writes in the Book: “I don’t understand why this hotel has only 5 stars. It should have 200 !!!” – when we don’t have television, videogames, pool slides and all those things they are crazy for
What is Palácio Belmonte?
Palácio Belmonte perched on the Castle’s walls at the top of the hill facing the river was a place too enchanting to be missed for our own house, but 380 doors and windows to open every day decided it otherwise. And Lisbon needed hotels!… So for two years the vernacular sculpture, Palácio Belmonte, was studied to achieve a new difficult goal.
Frederic an ecologist – since the time very few knew the meaning of the word – used his usual methods, the elderly were called, the old documents were studied, technology worked on lost formulas and soon they knew the materials used in 1420 when the three towers became a house and in 1640 when the house became a Palace. Step by step a new project took shape to give birth to only 9 suites in 3.700 sq meters so the interior beauty – tiles and volumes – would not be damaged and the reconstruction started following the principles of sustainability and the rules in the Chart of Venice.
Because aesthetic were of most importance, walls, floors or anything that didn’t please the eye, was done and redone until perfection, ours! ( Struggling with the worker’s skills and taste. – How can you tell a specialist that, what he sees as perfect, we don’t like?…
After 6 years of works Palácio Belmonte came back to life splendorous in a new design, full of details, light and new colours.
For us artists, its nudity couldn’t miss an exhibit before its last goal. And how perfect the modern huge paintings of Rui Gonçalves fitted the huge old walls!
In this way the new Belmonte was introduced to the city. Ever since people haven’t stopped talking about it. It was now time to bring inside the pieces we had fallen for, one by one they found their place in the sculpture. But besides art we are fan of wellbeing, so health is in with the concept. Instead of elevators we gave you little stairs in all directions where you exercise without noticing it. Natural ventilation replaced air conditioning and the ambiance is perfect all through the year. Whatever we touch is natural, whatever we eat is organic and simply good, you feel heaven in bed, the walls breath, you breath and the reason you feel so well!
Palácio Belmonte is a quiet place where you listen to the birds in the garden and no one will disturb you, a place to enjoy a relaxing herbal bath or being shaved the old way, to smoke a good cigar or have a massage with a view in your own terrace, to try the difference and be happy! And where you are welcome to join us in the kitchen, but also have a Michelin exquisite dinner on a terrace or enjoy the friendly Cultural Club Café where you can share your piano skills.
Palacio Belmonte is not a hotel, there is no formal reception, no crowds, no televisions, no chocolates on the pillow, only beauty and simplicity. You will be given the keys to your Palace in Lisbon and the staff is entirely at your service with a simple call.
We find three types of people: those who see, those who don’t see and those who want to be seen. If you belong to the first group you will love Palacio Belmonte; if to the second Belmonte might open your eyes; but if you belong to the third you will feel much happier at the Ritz!
Belmonte is a wonderful experience!
The first section of the Palácio was built in 1449, on the top of the ancient fortified Roman and Moorish walls, called “Cerca do Alcáçova” and “Cerca Moura”, by aggregating three towers: a rectangular keep at the western extremity, a corner tower to the north built upon Roman foundations, and a pentagonal moorish tower of the VIIth century to the west, which built upon a forty meter high rock, makes up an integral part of the “Cerca Moura”.
In 1640, the family enlarged the building, adding the majestic East terrace and five façades in a classical style, giving the Palácio its present look. In 1720 and 1730 the family commissioned two Portuguese master tile-makers, Manuel Santos and Valentim de Almeida, a unique collection of Portuguese tiles. The 59 panels of more than 3800 tiles are to be found throughout the building and are one of the Palácio’s distinguishing features.
When restoring the palace, the first two years were devoted to understanding the different phases of the construction from 130 years B.C. to 1995 – archeological research, light, volumes, air circulation, materials, heat, cold, wind, rain, noise , colors, plants. During these two years under the direction of Architect Pedro Quirino da Fonseca and with the constant help of Architect Felipe Lopes, head of the City Hall rehabilitation department, the lost but old efficient Vitruve’s lime mortar was redeveloped when we found the way to produce it (2 factories have been opened with our formula, and the National Monuments of Portugal use our lime mortar “Cal Fradical” in Portugal instead of cement). The interest of this lime mortar lies in the fact that Portugal on a coastal front is very humid with huge differences of temperature which are absorbed by the lime mortar. A booklet was published explaining the lime mortar which we offered to architects, contractors, civil servants and universities.
Then the vaults and the roofs with roman tiles lined-up were rebuilt and secured with lime mortar. All the ceilings “a caisson” have been either restored or redone, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for air circulation. Lastly, a natural ventilation was created in all the rooms of the Palácio by constructing air circulation conducts opening in each room with small thick stone encased vents. Three retractable canvas sails above a “green house” terrace, providing a soft pleasant lighting all-around and creating a soft, natural air density, easy to breath, were also placed. All tiled floors have been laid in the traditional way, on top of a low temperature water heated system, these tiles are made of red clay (made in Setubal and 50% baked in the sun). The 59 panels of Azulejos (XVIIIth century blue painted tiles) more than 3800 tiles have been taken down, restored and remounted, attributed to the masters Manuel dos Santos 1710 and Joaquim de Almeida 1730. They give to all sitting rooms and some bedrooms […] The 5 “façades” from 1640, which had been poorly anchored at the time, have been restored at each level, the angles tied-up with metal pins. All historical discoveries and traces of the evolution of the construction through the ages have been highlighted. The Palácio, being a very compact part of Lisbon on top of the hill of the Saint Georges Castle, we could not succeed in treating and re-using water – the use of renewable energy was also impossible, due to the fact that all roofs are visible from the Castle.
Nevertheless, the use of lime mortar – natural ventilation – low temperature central heating – sophisticated insulation of the roofs, floors and walls, double glazing – a lot of planning of the lighting, allowed us to use a maximum of 126kwa for around 3.700 meters, reducing by 8 times the usual consumption level of energy. The old construction materials – wood – iron – roman tiles – stone was as much as possible re-used. Systems of modern communications have been installed – 3 telephone lines in each suite – (fax, internet, telephone) to optimize privacy.
Associations of rooms per suite have been done to maximize the quality of natural lighting ventilation and to minimize noise effects. The garden has been totally redesigned and planted according to organic principles with usable and numerous local species, plants, fruit, trees, flowers.
The investment has been higher than expected. The Portuguese State, the city of Lisbon and the European Union helped.
Becoming an active member of the local community of Lisbon and of Alfama has been one of our most important goals. The social corpus of the area maintained, by keeping the 21 tenants under rent control living in the four adjoining buildings. Each of their 21 apartments has been restored with the financial and technical assistance of the City Hall bringing total modern comfort while keeping the rents at their present level. On January 22nd 2000 an exhibition room was opened to the public, the Café Belmonte and to the Lisbon City Hall was offered the selection of the theme of the exhibition each year during the month of June.
Six shops on the Largo do Contador Mor and 400 meters of boutiques room on Pateo de baixo, presenting a selection of very good products from Portugal (olive oil, cheese, wine, bread, craftsmanship, etc…), parking, small conference center and social housing are to open.
2019 The World Luxury Awards / Luxury Historical Hotel
2019 Global Luxury Hotel & Spa Awards / Most Historically Authentic Luxury Hotel
2019 Lawyer International 2019 Awards / Best Hotel & Spa of the Year – Portugal
2018 World Luxury Hotel Awards – Luxury Palace Hotel Winner
2018 USA Today Annual Awards / Best Hotel of the Year
2018 Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Award
2018 Condé Nast Traveler Gold List Award
2018 Luxury Travel Guide European Awards / 2018 Winner
2016 Hotel of The Year Awards / Best Boutique Palace Hotel Worldwide 2015
2016 World Luxury Hotel Awards – Luxury Suite Hotel Winner
2016 Rolls-Royce Enthusiast’s Club 2016 Award
2009 World Luxury Hotel Awards/Suite Hotel (2º exe quo)
Palácio Belmonte came 2nd ex aequo among the most beautiful Suite Hotels in the world, at World Luxury Hotel Awards. It is the pride of Lisbon and its secret gem.
2000 RIC’S Award for Urban Regeneration (given by Prince of Wales)
In October Frederic Coustols received the Award for Urban Regeneration from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offered by Prince of Wales.
This success was possible thanks to its current owner, who took the decision to restore this iconic and oldest Palacio in Lisbon according to sustainable constructive methods and 6 years labor-of-love – protecting the environment and the heritage.
The Tate Modern and the Royal Opera House in London also received RICS Awards in the same year.
National Monument and National Interest
The Palace was officially classified as a National Monument 1910 and of National Interest in 1997. Following a painstaking restoration, it has come to life once more, thriving today as an ode to the colourful history and enduring culture of Portugal.
2014 USA Today Travel
10 Best Romantic Hotels
Top 10 Castles Hotels
2010 Luxury Travel Magazine
Ten Top Europe Hidden Gems
2010 National Geographic
Heute zu den grossartigen Luxushotels der Welt
2003 Tatler-Abercrombie & Kent
101 Best Hotels / Little Gems
2000 Conde Nast Traveller UK
“21 coolest hotels in the world”
2000 Conde Nast Traveller USA
“Hot List 2000″ representing the year’s 36 top new hotels
2000 The selective Gallivanter’s Guide
Rated Palácio Belmonte in their May 2000 issue