Pousada de Cascais, Portugal

By November 10, 2014Europe

For some of our readers it would be enough to mention we’re speaking about a Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) property, recommended by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. However, there’s more than that to Pousada de Cascais.

Take a 16th century fortress which houses the hotel, a “Hot Property” title given by Conde Nast Traveller in April 2013 and Portugal’s first Raw-Art gallery to realize we’re dealing with a unique offering, the first of its kind in Europe. Pousada de Cascais, Cidadela Historic Hotel & Art District, is located close to the centre of Cascais, the pictoresque coastal town set 30 km west of Lisbon. A former fishing village, Cascais is now one of the richest municipalities in Portugal. The citadel – a national monument – and the Fortress of Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our Lady of the Light) are part of the military forts built between the 15th and 17th century to defend the coast. As from 1870, the citadel was used as a Royal residence where king D. Luís I died. It was in Cascais that the Portuguese Royal Family started to go to the beach, so this is a place worth visiting especially if you’re interested in such stories. Moreover, the village of Sintra, a World Heritage site renowned for its beautiful palaces, is only 20 minutes away.

When art takes over. However, what makes this hotel really interesting is the Art District which turns Pousada de Cascais into the first hotel in Europe with a project of this kind. The Cidadela Art District is the place where you can discover numerous exhibition sites scattered over the whole Pousada, including the Fortress walls. Six galleries await you, including the first and only Raw Art gallery in Portugal, and six Open Studios where artists can be seen during their creative process. The hotel also features 9 exclusive Author’s Rooms created by the residing artists available for reservations and visitors, by appointment at the reception. As expected, an Art Concierge is available to guide guests and visitors through the sites and the open studios, keeping them up to date with exhibitions and the events calendar.

Portugal’s first and only Raw-Art gallery. During our stay at Pousada de Cascais we discovered some beautiful works of art. Created by people with disabilities, the paintings send out emotional messages, showcasing the provocative way these artists see the surrounding world. It’s worth mentioning that even if you are not a guest of Pousada de Cascais you can visit the Raw-Art gallery, open from Wednesday to Sunday. “I’m bored, could you amuse me?” This was the neon-lit message seen in one of the 9 designer rooms we were mentioning earlier. You can find it in Ana Perez Quiroga quarto de autor. Or, if you’re the more religious type of person, you can opt for a room with several Bibles showcased in a glass-walled box at the end of the bed. This room is called Travessa da Ermida and comes with its own quote of the day: “A bible a day keeps the doctor away”.

Former barracks with spectacular sea views. Posauda de Cascais is a place where ancient meets modern. More than just another marketing phrase, this really is the case and you feel it right upon arrival. Set above the village’s marina, among palm trees and lovely panoramas, Pousada de Cascais awaits guests with 108 rooms and 18 suites. With courtyard or square views, the hotel’s rooms range between 22 and 36 sqm, while suites – overlooking the marina/sea and the main square – cover an area between 50 and 87 sqm. As we found out from the hotel’s PR, Pousada de Cascais is the largest Pousada property in Portugal. We liked the fact that all rooms and suites were decorated in a modern, minimalistic style. The design is simple and appealing, with a nice mix of colours showcasing the “less is more” philosophy appreciated by many, including us.

Overlooking the Atlantic. If you fancy having breakfast, lunch or light meals on the terrace, enjoying a lovely panorama of the Atlantic with the sound of the waves in the background, look no further than Maris Stella. Named after one of the Portuguese royal family sailboats, the restaurant delights with Mediterranean dishes such as freshly grilled golden bream or bass fillets along with cold octopus or cod salads. For a fresh ambiance, the walls of the windows slide open and all you have to do is sink into the beautiful views of Cascais marina.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you combined a library and a cellar? Even if you haven’t, check out Taberna da Praça restaurant (202 seats) which serves typical cuisine snacks (petiscos) made with products from Portugal. Apart from appetizers – one of the most important traditions of the Portuguese society, Taberna da Praça entices with snacks like eggs with tomatoes and smoked chicken chorizo, flaky cod salad and whitebait sardines. In a nod to the country’s literary history, the restaurant has a retro library vibe with curved cellar-like ceilings and trompe l’oil bookshelf wallpaper.

How about some i-Scream? No, Apple hasn’t re-invented the ice cream. We’re referring to the fresh and welcoming decor where you can indulge in delicious ice creams and cakes whose recipe has been safely guarded for generations. After you’ve sampled these delicious deserts, head to the Lobby Bar. Here, 600 swallows imagined by Portuguese artist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro liven up the room and make you feel, for a moment, like you’re in the middle of the nature, birdwatching. Between 5 PM and 1 AM, daily, light meals with the touch of Chef Manuel Alexander are served in the Lobby Bar.

Business and pleasure. Pousada de Cascais has 12 function rooms, some with natural lighting. All meeting rooms come with the necessary audiovisual equipment: TV, video, data-show, overhead projector, flip chart. Conde de Cantanhede is the largest room, with a capacity of up to 350 people, in theatre-style, and a ceiling height of 5 meters. After those stressful business meetings it’s time to work out at the fitness center – where several multi-function devices are available to keep you fit – or relax at the Magic Wellness Spa. Here, surrounded by local textiles and natural materials incorporated into the design, you’ll unwind among a variety of treatments: full body and head massages as well as cranio facials (gentle head and face maneuvers to relieve tension), hot stone treatment, reflexology, steam & sauna or spa pool. www.lhw.com