Bond author Ian Fleming gave this Riviera beach town its glitzy reputation, and the story lives on today in its upscale places to stay.
Lying less than 32 kilometres (20mi) west of Lisbon, on Portugal’s Riviera, Estoril has long attracted the good and the great – from aristocracy who summered here to spies who hung out in the old Palacio Estoril and neighbouring casino during the Second World War (inspiration for Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, don’t you know?). Its golden beach of Praia do Tamariz, elegant villas and cut-above hotels remain a magnet for upscale tourism. Here’s our pick of the best places to stay.
This refurbished hotel has bedrooms boasting wooden floors and bright and breezy fabrics. Facilities are plentiful with not one but two hairdressers and a newsagent on site, and massages available on request, too. There’s a saltwater outdoor pool and a restaurant, Sal & Pimenta, which serves Portuguese cuisine. The beach is within easy reach, as is the little train station from which you can ride into Lisbon.
This contemporary 59-room hotel sits right on the oceanfront, guaranteeing wonderful views. Its white-on-white interiors allow the outside in through the hotel’s mainly glass exteriors. Bedrooms are luxurious with chromotherapy showers in the bathroom. The spa uses Elemis products, and massages are also offered in the cabanas near the outside pool in summer. Try the octopus carpaccio or the trilogy of oysters at the gourmet Atlantico Restaurant.
Estoril’s grande dame, the Palacio opened in the 1930s and has hosted royalty, statesmen and film stars ever since. It was, appropriately, the setting for the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service having inspired the story of Casino Royale, which Ian Fleming allegedly penned in the hotel bar. Interiors brim with glamour, antique furniture and gleaming black-and-white marble chequerboard floors, with 161 classically decorated rooms, many overlooking the lovely pool surrounded by bougainvillea-filled gardens.
This charming Belle Époque hotel dates back to the early 20th century and today houses 69 bedrooms, decorated in soft colours, and gardens that include a small children’s playground area. There’s a rooftop swimming pool and a panoramic restaurant that serves Portuguese and international favourites, spilling out onto a terrace in the summer months. Beaches are a five-minute walk away.
Set on a hilltop in Costa do Estoril, this beachfront hotel offers indoor and outdoor pools, a jacuzzi and a fitness centre. Spacious bedrooms open out onto balconies and include kitchenettes. The beach is a few minute’s walk away, and the centre of Cascais, with its lively restaurants and chic boutiques, is a 10-minute stroll. Fitness fans, take note: the hotel has relationships with nearby fairways and tennis courts, granting you access at preferential rates – plus there’s surfing off Guincho Beach and jeep safaris through the Serra de Sintra Mountains for added adrenaline hits.
This little guesthouse has just 11 rooms, but they’re all smartly suited, with just-so artworks, polished brass lamps, mid-century furniture and breezy summer-inspired textiles – with the hotel standing within easy reach of Estoril’s beach. There’s a restaurant offering light meals on site, plus a garden that comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a lounger-lined sun terrace.
Housing just nine rooms, the Estoril Luxury Suites & Spa is a refined sort of place. There’s a smart billiard’s room, befitting of the golden-era guests who once flocked to Estoril, plus a parasol-plotted pool, a sauna, steam bath, jacuzzi and gym. The area’s tennis clubs and golf courses are within easy reach; there’s also a shuttle bus that connects to Lisbon airport, and the beach in Estoril is a short walk away.
This five-star hotel stands out along the coastline of Estoril, its staggered, terraced shape affording most rooms views out over the ocean. There’s an impressive “water lounge” with a pool, salt lake, whirlpool circuit and Turkish bath. Poised on the outside edge of the third floor, there’s an infinity pool overlooking the sea. The Gourmet Restaurant offers fine dining, kicking off proceedings with a Portuguese olive-oil tasting.
The sleekest hotel on the Portuguese Riviera sits right on the edge of the ocean with a dazzling array of bespoke bedrooms, some bright red and ornate, others white and minimalist, created by Portuguese and international fashion designers. There are two restaurants: the Mix serves Mediterranean fare (try the ginger-infused risotto with lobster), while Sushi Design delivers exquisite oysters, zingy ceviche and, yes, delicious sushi and sashimi.