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June 2017

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Hotel Review – InterContinental Estoril

InterContinental Estoril
5 Overall
Pros
  • Relaxing atmosphere
  • Beautiful setting
  • Good outdoor pool
  • Ocean view rooms
  • Cons
  • Poor club lounge
  • No desk in room
  • Location
    Rooms
    Service
    Facilities
    Value

    Location

    The charming InterContinental Estoril is located in between two small towns on the Portuguese Riviera, about 30-40 min from Lisbon. The five-star hotel sits right at the Atlantic ocean, with two small beaches, Praia do Tamariz and Praia das Moitas just a few steps away. Cascais, a cosy fishing village with plenty of restaurants, bars and shops, is a 15-20 min walk from the hotel.

    A taxi from Lisbon Airport (LIS) takes 30-40 min depending on traffic and will set you back €65, which is a fixed price. A pre-booked transfer will cost about €40-50. As we were arriving from InterContinental Lisbon (you can read the review here), we took the train from Lisbon for a meagre €2.15 per adult one-way. So unless you have a lot of luggage with you I would suggest taking the train, as it’s very convenient and cheap. The Airport Bus takes you to Cais do Sodré railway station. From there it’s 40 min to Monte do Estoril, which is right outside the hotel.

     

    Hotel

    InterContinental Estoril opened in the summer of 2015, so it’s a fairly new hotel, which shows as we couldn’t see any wear and tear. The exterior of the InterContinental Estoril gives the impression of a rather large hotel. However, only the first three floors are part of the hotel, the rest is residential. The five-star hotel is home to only 59 rooms in total, two of which are suites. The small size of the hotel made it feel very calm and intimate.

    The aquatic colours, bright and open reception and welcome drink served upon arrival all helped to create a resort vibe. We felt like we were on holiday the moment we walked through the doors. The fact that you can see an open balcony at the rear of the hotel facing the ocean from the entrance gives a very relaxing welcoming.

    • Exterior of the InterContinental Estoril.

    Rooms

    InterContinental Estoril has three room levels and one type of suites as you can see from the table below. We were upgraded from a Garden View Deluxe to an Ocean View Deluxe. The opinions of the Ocean View Deluxe rooms on FlyerTalk and other websites are in general very good. The few negative comments  appear to be with regards to corner rooms, which are slightly smaller.

    RoomsSqm
    Garden View Deluxe 28
    InterContinental Deluxe Room, Ocean View38
    InterContinental Club Room 44
    Ocean View Suite70
    Our Room

    The Ocean View Deluxe room felt spacious and the design was modern and bright. The large king-size bed was extremely comfortable, like all InterContinental beds, and there was a decent amount of storage space. Another huge plus for me was the fact that there was sockets right next to the bed. However, the best part of the Ocean View Deluxe rooms were, without a doubt, the large balcony facing the ocean and the pool area. Our balcony had a good size table with two chairs, perfect for room service, and a smaller sofa, perfect for an afternoon nap. The only thing that was missing in the room was a desk. If I had stayed in the hotel for a longer time, I would have appreciated a desk (it appears that some rooms have a desk based on other online reviews).

    We were welcomed with water, fruits and some sweets. In addition, the rooms come equipped with a onetime free minibar for all guests (refills must be paid). The minibar only contained soft drinks along with two small Super Bock beers, but it is still a nice gesture. There was a kettle and a Nespresso coffee machine, which is always welcomed by the girlfriend (I’m one of those strange people who don’t drink coffee or tea).

    Bathroom

    The bathroom was functional, albeit on the smaller side for two people. I was especially missing places to hang the towels (in a relaxing resort-style hotel a common day is pool-shower-pool-shower). There was a shower and bath combo to the right of the sink, while a sliding glass door separated the toilet to the left. There is mood lighting in the bathroom, which can be changed to any colour, while it’s nothing useful, it is fun. The sink was decent size, but could have been bigger (read: the girlfriend’s cosmetics took up most of the space). Beneath the sink there was space for wash-bags. The toiletries where from Agraria, the standard InterContinental ones.

    • Large comfy bed.

    Service

    The service at the InterContinental Estoril was superb! Once in a while you get the feeling that service is something extra and we both felt that in this hotel. Check-in went smoothly; we sat down, got a welcome drink and right away felt relaxed. We were guided to our room by an exceedingly friendly guy who carried on some pleasant chitchat. It’s worth mentioning that everyone in general was super friendly and attentive to a very high standard.

    The day before check-out they called the room and asked if we needed any assistance. As we were taking the train to Algarve we asked for some suggestions. A couple hours later we were provided with the train schedule, train stops to depart along with phone numbers to taxi companies in the area. All in all, it is understandable why InterContinental Estoril is the highest ranked hotel on the Portuguese Rivera by TripAdvisor.

    InterContinental Ambassador benefits included an upgrade from a Garden View Deluxe to a Ocean View Deluxe and welcome fruits and sweets in the room.

    Facilities

    While the hotel and rooms are of high standard and the service is excellent, the main reason for visiting is the beautiful setting and the relaxing facilities. The main selling point is the outdoor pool, which is split in a paddling pool on the one side and a deeper one on the other. The pool area is very calm due to the abundance of green around the pool, the ocean right in-front and the limited amount of rooms in the hotel. Only downside is that the pool was a bit cold. There are plenty of sun loungers and during our three night stay there were always a few options to choose from. You can order drinks and snacks from the pool bar. There is also a small indoor pool for rainy days. Within a 5-10 min walk along the oceanfront there are several small beaches in case you feel like mixing it up.

    The breakfast buffet is served in the bar/restaurant area on the same level as the reception. Everyday we managed to get a table outside and with the peaceful sound from the ocean, it was the perfect way to start the day! Naturally, the buffet has a wide choice of cold cuts, pastries, warm dishes and more. We also managed to try out room service a couple of times as we were so relaxed we didn’t manage to leave the hotel for a couple of days. The club sandwich gets an extra plus at InterContinental Estoril. The restaurant, Atlantico, which is located adjacent to the hotel, offered nice views and good food for quite reasonable prices.

    InterContinental Estoril have a good-sized-24-hour gym with a couple treadmills, stationary bikes, multi-purpose weight machines and some free weights. If you feel like exercise outdoors there is a public outdoor gym on the boardwalk right outside the hotel. The spa area looked bright and modern with a wide range of treatments available, however we didn’t try anything whilst we were there.

    Club Lounge

    The club lounge at the InterContinental Estoril has received very poor reviews on FlyerTalk (it is more or less the only negative aspect people mentioned about the hotel). As such, we chose not to add it to our stay. However, following our stay I read that the club lounge has been disbanded and that they now offer the ‘Club InterContinental Experience‘ package instead. They appear to have made the change around the time of our stay, which might be why the concierge didn’t mention anything about the club lounge when we checked-in. The change appears to be a welcomed and certainly make sense given the small amount of rooms.

    The Club InterContinental experience is aimed at hotels without a dedicated club lounge. The experience package is currently being used in Amsterdam, Porto and Marseille. You can read more about it here. According to FlyerTalk, the Club InterContinental Experience at InterContinental Estoril costs €XX/day for a maximum of two adults during weekdays and €XX/day during weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). InterContinental Ambassador members get a 20% discount, while it is complimentary for Royal Ambassadors.

    • Outdoor pool
    • Indoor pool
    • Fitness centre
    • Sauna
    • Spa
    • Restaurant
    • Room service
    • Free Wi-Fi
    • View of the swimming pool and the beautiful setting.

    Hotel Review – InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas

    4.8 Overall
    Pros
  • Central location
  • Beautiful classic design
  • Spacious rooms
  • Club Experience
  • Cons
  • No swimming pool
  • No club lounge
  • Location
    Rooms
    Service
    Facilities
    Value

    Location

    The five-star hotel lies in the heart of Porto’s historic centre, overlooking Praça da Liberdade, the city’s main square. Estação de São Bento, the beautiful train station with its colourful tile pictorials, is around the corner. The iconic Clérigos Tower is less than a five-minute walk away and there are plenty of restaurants, bars and shops nearby. In addition, the Douro River, the river walk and Ponte Luís I bridge is a 10-15 min walk. A taxi from Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) takes 20-30 min depending on traffic, while it takes about 40 min with the metro to the São Bento metro station, which is right next to the hotel.

     

    Hotel

    The neoclassical design of the renovated eighteenth-century palace is beautiful and definitely gives a good first impression. The 105-room hotel feels rather intimate and exudes character with its large crystal chandeliers, marble floor, decorative mouldings and velvet armchairs. I tend to prefer the luxury boutique feeling of InterContinental Porto over say the more business-oriented InterContinental Lisbon.

    • Exterior of the InterContinental Porto - Palacio das Cardosas. Picture taking across the street at the Praça da Liberdade.

    Rooms

    InterContinental Porto has two regular room levels and four types of suites as you can see from the table below. We were upgraded from a King Executive to a Duplex Suite. The opinions of the Duplex Suite differs greatly on FlyerTalk; some consider them to be poorly arranged and lack style, while others like the high ceilings and the overall feel of the Duplex Suite. We fall in the latter group. I am a fan of duplex suites in general. In addition, all rooms that have two bathrooms with showers that make it possible to get ready at the same time as the girlfriend always sit well with me.

    Room TypeSize sqm
    King Deluxe24
    King/Twin Executive32
    Duplex Suite50-60
    Junior Suite with View37
    One Bedroom Suite46
    Executive Duplex Suite91-100
    Our Room

    The Duplex felt very spacious and had a simple yet elegant decor. The king bed was of traditional InterContinental standard, meaning very comfortable. There was plenty of wardrobe space; one downstairs under the stairs and another larger one, somewhat strangely, in the upstairs bathroom. There were two smart TVs, one in the living room and one in-front of the bed, both with a good selection of international channels.

    One of few negative aspects with the duplex was that there were no sockets by the desk (why do so many hotels miss this!?). The small outdoor area was also a bit strange, I can’t see a scenario where I would like to sit out there and stare into a wall. For people prioritising a better view, you are better going with an Executive room or Junior Suite with a view towards Praça da Liberdade. The living room area of the Duplex literally overlooks a wall, although we had a good view towards the cathedral from the bedroom.

    Bathroom

    The Duplex Suite has two beautiful marble bathrooms; one downstairs with a shower and one upstairs with a shower and bath combo. Instead of the traditional Agraria toiletries, there were the more premium, and in my opinion nicer, Anne Semonin Paris toiletries.

    • Entrance into the Duplex Suite. Stairs leading up to the bedroom with the living room area off to he left.

    Service

    Check in was a breeze. The porters promptly asked for assistance with our luggage the moment we stepped through the door (although we declined as we only had small carry-on’s). The concierge team was very attentive and thanked us for being Platinum Ambassador members. After giving us most of the relevant information the concierge guided us to the elevators, which is always a nice touch. Overall, I can see why InterContinental Porto is ranked number one out of over 100 hotels in Porto on TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, the concierge forgot to mention that we had the option of adding the Club InterContinental Experience. Since we never tried it before and it appear to offer good value, we would have most likely tried it out if we known about it.

    InterContinental Ambassador benefits included an upgrade from a King Executive to an Duplex Suite, a welcome box with locally-produced chocolate and two drink vouchers (which we were happy to use in the charming Cardosas Bar).

    Facilities

    The breakfast buffet is served in the restaurant area adjacent to the lobby. The room has lots of natural light making it a great place to wake up. It is a really beautiful breakfast room. Naturally, the buffet has a wide choice of cold cuts, pastries, bread and more. A few warm dishes are at the buffet, but pretty much anything you require can be ordered on demand. We also managed to try out room service when we ordered a club sandwich after a late night arrival. Service was fast and the club sandwich was of its normal high standard. The bar area, Cardosas Bar, is very cosy and as an Ambassador member it was a nice place to sit and have a complimentary drink.

    InterContinental Porto have a decent-sized-24-hour gym with three treadmills, two stationary bikes, a multi-purpose weight machine and some free weights. There is also a wellness centre where a range of massages, facial treatments and waxing services are offered, albeit we did not try anything whilst we were there. A one-hour massage cost €80. The main downside in terms of facilities is that there is no swimming pool.

    Club Lounge

    There is no club lounge at the hotel, instead you have the option of getting the ‘Club InterContinental Experience‘ package. This package is aimed at hotels without a dedicated club lounge. The experience package is currently being used in Amsterdam, Porto and Marseille. You can read more about it here. According to FlyerTalk, the Club InterContinental Experience at InterContinental Porto costs €75/day for a maximum of two adults during weekdays and €85/day during weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). InterContinental Ambassador members get a 20% discount, while it is complimentary for Royal Ambassadors.

    • Bar
    • Fitness centre
    • Spa
    • Sauna
    • Room service
    • Restaurant
    • Laundry
    • Free Wi-Fi
    • Cardosas Bar at night. We enjoyed two glasses of complimentary wine here as an Ambassador member.