Full disclosure: I have a soft spot for Penha Longa Resort because I got married there last year. And whilst I encouraged friends and family to stay there (it was very convenient having everyone stay at the actual wedding venue), I never actually gave them a list of reasons for why they should. I (finally) managed to compile a list of reasons that set Penha Longa apart from other five-star resorts and I’m sharing it with you here… so you too can make your own wonderful memories there.
1. The Grounds. Its privileged location at the foothills of Sintra make Penha Longa a convenient launch pad from which to explore this UNESCO world heritage destination. But Penha Longa’s 545-acre grounds are impressive in their own right. Back in the 14th century, the lands belonged to a monastery. Nowadays, you can still visit the chapel which was built in 1400 (where I tied the knot) and walk around the 19th century palace, which has beautiful rooms and a stunning azulejo kitchen. Nature lovers can stroll around the green hills and walk to the lake. It’s incredibly serene.
2. The Service. I have to admit, one of the things that stands out for me about Penha Longa is the customer service. The staff are very polite, friendly and helpful. I think what differentiates Penha Longa from other five-star hotels is that the staff members are the perfect balance between politeness and genuine warmth. And if you’re foreign, you’re in luck: everyone I met there spoke English.
3. The Golf. I’ll be honest: golf isn’t my sport. But I can appreciate quality facilities when I see them: it’s obvious why amateur and professional golfers flock here. The 27-hole golf course was designed by renowned golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. From a purely aesthetic perspective, I love that the course is sprinkled with interesting features, like sections of centuries-old ruins. But if you’re like me and golf isn’t your thing, there are tennis courts, squash courts and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. The latter is right up my alley.
4. The Food. The hotel boasts seven restaurants, some of which are seasonal or only open on specific days of the week. Choose from assorted cuisines such as Portuguese, Japanese, and Italian. You’ll be sure to find something you love here. LAB by Chef Sergi Arola, the newest of the restaurants, was recently awarded its first Michelin Star. And if you’re just looking for nibbles or a hot beverage, you can grab one in the bar area in the lobby: I suggest you stop in for a coffee or tea here, because they’re served with crispy, ultra thin biscotti that are made in-house (they’re also highly addictive).
5. The Gin. It would be remiss of me to exclude the impressive gin bar right by the lobby. The bar area is modern and cool, with classic elements. I particularly love the very comfortable, oversized U-shaped couch, which is the ideal spot to rest on if you plan to sample a few of the 150 different gins they have on offer. (No, that number isn’t a typo.) If you prefer other alcoholic beverages, there are plenty of options for you, including plenty of Portuguese wines and spirits.
Part of what makes Penha Longa a hotel you keep coming back to is that there’s always something new happening there. To my great delight, Penha Longa’s latest offer is two variations on afternoon tea – my favorite! I can’t wait to go back, try it and tell you all about it!
Have you been to or stayed at Penha Longa? What did you like best?