One of the many reasons Portugal is such a tip-top luxury destination is its infrastructure – buy a Lisboa card beforehand, online, for free transport and many cultural admissions, and pre-booked airport pickup to avoid peak-time lines for taxis. Another reason is its really super people, who normally have excellent English and, regardless, want to help. The gal was on her way to Estoril and had not realised some buses do not run at weekends. She was rescued by a non-speaking Jehovah’s Witness, who understood the written words Estoril and Alcântara-Mar station – this lady left her conversion booklets and became a guide for seven minutes. Off the train at Mont-Estoril, and there, high above the train station, soars architect João Paciência’s futuristic sculpture of a hotel, above.
InterContinental Estoril is an anomaly, 52 rooms slotted into one end of three floors of a seven-floor residential block but fortunately the power of the brand means the IHG logo is as big as it can be, both ends of the block. I think the interior was divided up by Dr Rubik, or a jigsaw maker. To get to lovely end suite 201 from the lobby I turned right, then left, past the all glass wall looking into the Atlantica Residences’ lobby: at the elevators on my left I pressed where I wanted to go, and took the arriving elevator down to the second floor. Sometimes, at that floor, it let me out one side, to the spa, sometimes to the other, to the corridor. But I did immediately fall in love with my suite – see the video below. I looked down at the hotel’s garden and outdoor pool, and across over the tops of trains to the ocean. And I was quickly enamoured of the food.
The hotel’s restaurant, which is run by them, is Atlantico, an old single-floor tiled-roof house three minutes’ walk from the hotel, with full signing privileges. It is superb. At lunchtime there is a sizeable terrace, but as evening progresses this is covered in with a concertina of glass panels. No flowers on the tables, only big inner-lit white glass bowl-shaped lights on gold stands. Turquoise Chilewich mats are so suitable for this ambience, and I went Portuguese, including a local red wine, Monte de Ravasqueira 2017. Breads were half-slices of rustic white, olive baguette or brown wholemeal, with Portuguese Distintus oil.
I should know by now that you cannot keep a good chef down and Daniel Abreu, helped by consultant Miguel Laffan, sent out a deep-fried cod patty as preamble. Then it was my choice. I started with Azores tuna tartare with ginger, lime and sesame oil, and went on to seafood tagliatelle with champagne and saffran sauce. Although there are dozens, if not more, casual eating places within 20 minutes walk, Atlantica was doing very nicely indeed, both from the unusually discerning guests this unique hotel attracts, and also from local residents. I hear Estoril is so popular with expats, who get ten years’ tax exemption if they move here, that it has four international schools… NOW SEE SUITE 201