"It feels almost as though it is an island alone in the ocean as you sit on the balcony of your suite, overlooking the cliffs and the raging waves below! In Cascais, the seaside resort where locals escape from the capital, Fortaleza do Guincho is Portugal’s most romantic hotel."
This starkly beautiful fortress was built in the 17th century on Europe’s most westerly cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The Fortaleza has been rebuilt and renovated many times to become this opulent oasis.
The double-barrelled welcome you receive on approach to the rough-hewn wooden doors is the only reminder of the edifice’s thankfully unfulfilled original purpose. The beautiful central courtyard is a sea of polished stone and beautiful rugs and carpets under a glass roof, an imposing yet elegant space greets you. A wide stone winding staircase provided a dramatic ascent to the room.
Our room was a well-appointed stone vaulted ceilinged, cosy and opulent space. The beautiful décor includes antique furniture, a giant fireplace, and the good-sized balcony overlooks the beach where surfers and kite surfers struggle in the heaving swell.
There is a Michelin-starred dining room with views to match offering really excellent modern, precise and exciting cooking thanks to Miguel Vieira, the almost magically talented mastermind in the kitchen.
The meal, a menu devised by the chef, began with a selection of amuse bouche each playful in presentation and absolutely delicious… The muscle on an edible shell standing out to me!
We were lucky enough to enjoy dinner in the dining room with panoramic windows showing off the hotel’s position.
Then followed an educational journey around the country’s wine regions with our excellent sommelier. The wines were surprisingly powerful and complex. You must try the Alicante Bouschets, and of course the Douros.
This member of the Relais and Chateaux family is just 25 minutes from the beating heart of Lisbon offering modern medieval luxury wrapped in the bracing, invigorating surroundings all within easy reach of everything the city has to offer. Here are my top 5:
1. Enjoy some bolos de bacalhau with a sparkling vinho verde at Populi while people watching at Praça do Comércio.
2. Have a ginja, the typical liqueur made of cherry berries at Cafe ‘A Ginjinha’ Rossio’s oldest spot where to drink it !
3. Eat in Taberna da Rua das Flores for super traditional no frills taste of the old country.
4. Portugal is home to some incredible art but if you only have time for one stop, visit the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
5. To find exclusive Portuguese stuff, go for a shopping break at A Vida Portuguesa where you can find soaps, notebooks, swallows, gourmet selection and textiles, all made in Portugal !