Vila Gale Palacio dos Arcos, Portugal

By November 10, 2014Europe

Set by the Tagus river on the Lisbon Coast, 15 minutes away from the historical centre of Lisbon and Cascais, Vila Gale Palacio dos Arcos – also known as “Hotel dos Poetas” – brings a touch of history and poetry to the mix. It even has its own chapel!

Following a ten million Euro investment, Vila Gale Palacio dos Arcos – the Group’s first five star property in Portugal – opened its doors on April 25th 2013. Set on the eastern side of Paco de Arcos, Palácio dos Arcos is a landmark and one of the town most symbolic buildings. A brief history lesson. Built in the late 15th century, Palácio dos Arcos covers an area of almost 2,000 square metres distributed on three floors. The refined architecture with simple lines, the extensive gardens and privileged location by the river made this the favourite palace of elite Portuguese families.

Portuguese King Manuel I – also known as “the Fortunate One” – and his daughter Maria used to stay there frequently, in particular when participating in hunting trips, watching Vasco da Gama’s caravels leaving for India. Other kings of Portugal – Ferdinand I, Louis I and Queen Maria Pia – also stayed frequently in this palace in order to attend the famous regattas of Paço de Arcos. This beautiful palace still retains the two turrets joined by a large porch from the originally built structure, supported by three arches, and the chapel, which were preserved when the palace was rebuilt in the 18th century.

The chapel has a remarkable baroque altar, especially due to the richness of its marbles (Florentine mosaics, polychrome motives, purple and brown Solomonic columns and white angels). The oratories marble is Italian, probably imported from Italy at the time of the great orders made by King João V. The chapel also bears some Sacred Art pieces, including a sculpture of Our Lady of Conception in polychrome wood, 18th century Portuguese art. After Count of Arrochella, the palace’s last owner, died in 1997, Palácio dos Arcos was held by the Municipal Council of Oeiras. However, as the years passed by, the palace’s condition degraded, hence the need for a thorough restoration in order to preserve it. Following a tender, the Vila Galé Group’s project was chosen as the most appropriate one, a project which saw the transformation of the palace into a 5-star hotel while preserving its gardens and heritage.

Arriving at the hotel. We’ve reached Vila Gale Palacio dos Arcos by driving on the picturesque coastal route linking Cascais to Portugal’s capital. The scenery is beautiful and if you get lost in the ocean views – with the sky smoothly embracing the sea in the distance – you could easily drive by the hotel. Luckily, the bright yellow of the building caught our eye so we turned right just in time, with 15 km to go to Lisbon. Going slightly uphill, we then followed a short cobbled driveway, passed through an arched, narrow gate and stopped in the small, inner courtyard right in front of the hotel’s entrance. This secluded space made us feel even better and more relaxed, even if the area around the hotel can be described as anything but bustling. Check-in formalities completed and we headed, accompanied by a staff member, to our room overlooking the pool. On the way we passed by the chapel then through the glass-windowed bridge connecting the old building with the new wing.

Poetry and romance. “Hotel dos Poetas” has 71 bedrooms and 5 suites. Two suites and three bedrooms are located in the Palace, all with a stunning view to the river Tagus. The remaining bedrooms are located in the New Wing. Each comes with a wide balcony and all bedrooms – together with some hallways and public spaces, even elevator doors – are decorated with verses, in tune with the “Poetry” theme chosen for this property. The poems are written in various languages – English, French, German, Portuguese – and some of the hotel’s Suites are named after famous figures, people who shaped history: Goethe (102), Jose Saramango (103), Dante Alighieri (104), William Shakespeare (105). For book lovers there’s also a small library on two levels, a cozy space with a capacity of up to 8 people that can be used for meetings. Extending the art theme, the garden of Vila Gale Palacio dos Arcos – where the outdoor swimming pool is located – boasts several statues, beautiful to look at during the daily stroll.

Dining. With a concept based on the Portuguese gastronomy, the hotel’s Inevitável restaurant offers contemporary cuisine by Chef Francisco Ferreira. Palace foie gras with onion confit, hazelnuts and spices crumble, Shrimp risotto in coriander emulsion, Young veal with lavender, fresh broad beans and mushrooms in red wine reduction sauce with cinnamon and cardamom are some of the exquisite dishes from the new menu. For a more casual environment head to Pessoa Lounge Bar, accessible through the lobby. Open daily from 10 AM to midnight, this is the place to enjoy cocktails and snacks. From April to September guests can also unwind at the Pool Bar.

Romeo & Juliet at the Spa. Covering almost 350 square metres, Satsanga Spa comes with a dedicated massage room for two – “Romeo & Juliet”, a massage/beauty room, Vichy shower, gym, dynamic indoor pool, sauna, Turkish bath, rain/Swiss shower and Cascade shower. When it comes to meetings, Vila Galé Palácio dos Arcos relies on Luis de Camoes with a total area of 214 sqm, natural light and a maximum capacity of up to 200 people. Originally, this room was the Palace’s old wine cellar, then it was fully restored and equipped with modern equipment suitable for various types of events.