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SINTRA AND THE HOTEL TIVOLI PALACIO DE SETEAIS

James Andrew at Tivoli Palacio de Setais

James Andrew at Tivoli Palacio de Setais

After a fabulous breakfast at the Pestana Palacio de Freixo in Porto, we boarded an express train back to Lisbon. There we were collected at the train station and brought to Sintra for the last leg our sublime journey.

With its lush micro-climate, enchanting wildlife, and fairyland architecture, the town of Sintra is an absolute dream, and thankfully we had a good three days to explore! Of the Sintra hotels, Tivoli Palacio de Seteais is a stand out. This neo-classical masterpiece dates to the late 1700’s and was purchased by the Dutch consol, Daniel Gildemeester. In 1800 it was sold to the 5th Marquis of Marialva who added the second matching pavilion and the triumphal arch in honor of the Prince Regent and future King Joao VI. It became a hotel in the early part of the 20th Century. With its superb location and spectacular views, the Palacio de Seteais was certainly a splendid place to spend our remaining days in Portugal, and the perfect base of operation from which to explore the rest of Sintra.

Quite nearby — actually just a quick walk from the hotel — is the must-see, Quinta de Regaleira. Built in the early 1900’s, it was the esoteric fantasy retreat of eccentric millionaire, Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. The Italian set-designer and architect Luigi Manini was enlisted to create the magical gardens and palace and it is imbued throughout with historical, mystical, and even occult symbolism. To say that it is a visual feast is an understatement.

Gardens at Quinta da Regaleira

Gardens at Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira

Redering - Quinta da Regaleira

Rendering – Quinta da Regaleira

Interior, Quinta da Regaleira

Interior, Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira

James Andrew at Quinta da Regaleira

James Andrew at Quinta da Regaleira

For a day of touring, I’m sporting a Tom Ford charcoal wool silk tweed jacket, grey cotton cashmere corduroy pant, grey and charcoal checked cotton shirt, a Ralph Lauren black and ivory dot print silk scarf and red alligator belt with sterling buckle, Seaman Schepps black pearl cuff links, Tom Ford era Gucci black suede loafers, Turnbull and Asser grey and black dot print silk pocket square, vintage Rolex, my fragrance is Tom Ford London, and I’m using a bit of Tom Ford Bronzing Gel for a healthy glow.

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PORTO AND THE PESTANA PALACIO DO FREIXO HOTEL

James Andrew at the Pestana Palacio do Freixo

James Andrew at the Pestana Palacio do Freixo

Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, was also at the top of our list of places to explore in Portugal. With its magnificent Medieval flavor and rich heritage, the place is simply bursting with delights. We effortlessly hopped on an express train from Lisbon and two and a half hours later we were in Porto!

In keeping with the idea of exploring Portugal’s great houses and palaces via its palace hotels, we chose the splendid Pestana Palacio do Freixo as our base of operations in Porto. The Palacio do Freixo was commissioned by the Dean of Porto’s cathedral in the 18th century and designed by the Italian architect Nasoni, it stands as a marvelous example of Portuguese Baroque. The hotel consists of two buildings: the palace proper where one takes meals and/or enjoys cocktails in the grand sitting room; and a converted factory/mill building where the guests are situated in large well appointed rooms. We, ourselves, were given a really sumptuous suite of rooms with beautiful views of the Douro river.

After quickly settling in, McBee and I dashed off to lunch. As you know we were wild about chef Jose Avillez cuisine in Lisbon, and so we headed to Cantinho Oporto which is his new outpost in Porto. Needless to say, we were not disappointed.

With our bellies full, and despite some rather dreary weather (the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Porto, wait five minutes and it will change — thankfully the saying is quite true!), we pushed on to some of truly unforgettable sites!

Igreja de Sao Francisco is an over-the-top indulgent baroque fantasy of a church. The “Tree of Jesse” in the nave is a must see. A visit to the Sao Bento train station with its marvelous monumental azulejo mural panels is just sublime. Nearby, the Se cathedral and its cloisters provide more azulejo inspiration and beauty!

The Cloisters at Se cathedral, Porto

The Cloisters at Se cathedral, Porto

For a quick pick-me-up, the Cafe Majestic a Belle Epoque tea house is a must.

The lavish neoclassical palace, Alacio da Bolsa (the stock exchange), built with absolutely no expense spared is another awe-inspiring creation. Its Salao Arabe is an absolute dream.

Palacio da Bolsa Salao Arabe, Porto-

Palacio da Bolsa Salao Arabe, Porto-

The Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, another Neo-Classical style palace, houses the most exquisite collection of decorative arts and paintings. It is another two for one experiences; not only does it house a marvelous collection, but the palace and grounds (replete with the most enchanting Camellia trees) alone are well worth the visit!

Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, Porto

Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, Porto

 Sao Bento Train Station Azulejo Panel - Porto

Sao Bento Train Station Azulejo Panel, Porto

We returned to our accommodations at Pestana Palacio do Freixo for a bit of luxury — and a couple glasses of port! — before heading off to dinner. We highly suggest dining at DOP which serves a fresh and innovative take on the cuisine of Porto and its region — despite a rather minimal setting, the food is fabulous.

I’m captured exploring the palace and gardens (top) at the fabulous Pestana Palacio do Freixo. I’m sporting a Tom Ford era Gucci white,black and saddle leather biker jacket, Etro silk paisley scarf, Turnbull and Asser red tartan cotton shirt with white contrast collar and cuffs, antique Victorian Scottish agate cuff links, uniqlo jean, Ralph Lauren red alligator belt with sterling buckle, Tom Ford era Windsor loafers in black leather, and vintage Rolex, Tom Ford London fragrance and Tom Ford Bronzing Gel.

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THE SUITE LIFE AT PESTANA PALACE LISBON

James Andrew -- Dom Luis Felipe suite a the Pestana Palace Hotel

James Andrew — Dom Luis Felipe suite a the Pestana Palace Hotel

In keeping with our theme of exploring the great houses and palaces of Portugal via palace hotels, the Dom Luis Felipe suite at the Pestana Palace Hotel certainly provided us with more than a little taste of the palatial experience! Our ravishing rooms welcomed us back from each day’s exploration and provided us with the most sublime base of operations while in Portugal. A stay at Pestana Palace feels more like being a guest at the home of a relative who just happens to be a Marquis – welcoming and yet elegantly eccentric!

There is so much to see in Lisbon, but among the not-to-be-missed highlights is the Palacio Nacional da Ajuda. The original royal palace was destroyed by fire in 1795, and replaced with a monumental neo-classical style palace in the early 19th century, however it was left incomplete in 1807 when the Royal family was forced to flee to Brazil. It was finally completed in 1861 when Luis I became King and married Maria Pia Princess of Savoia. Needless too say they spared no expense in finalizing the structure and appointments, and the place has left me utterly inspired.

Palacio Nacional da Ajuda

Palacio Nacional da Ajuda

Palacio Nacional da Ajuda

Palacio Nacional da Ajuda

Palacio Nacional da Ajuda

Palacio Nacional da Ajuda

Palacio Nacional da Ajuda

Palacio Nacional da Ajuda

Also on the must-see Lisbon list is the Museu de Artes Decorativas. Housed in the 17th century Palacio Azurara, it is dedicated to preserving Portuguese traditions in the world of decorative arts. On display are some of the finest examples of furniture, textiles, silver and ceramics. Going there really is a two-for-one experience: enjoying the spectacular palace on the one hand, and the splendid collection on the other!

An exhibition of Portuguese chairs at Museu de Artes Decorativas

An exhibition of Portuguese chairs at Museu de Artes Decorativas

Luncheon at Pestana Palace is always a good idea and since we had the most wonderful weather, we were served on the back terrace overlooking the lovely gardens. One should also be sure to dine at Restaurant Tavares – perhaps one of the oldest restaurants in Portugal, it is an elegant venue serving traditional Portuguese cuisine.

Savoring the beauty of our ravishing rooms at Pestana Palace, I’m sporting a Ralph Lauren Purple Label red tartan wool cashmere jacket, red and white striped cotton shirt with white contrast collar and cuffs by Turnbull and Asser, vintage black silk pocket square, antique Victorian Scottish agate cuff links,Tom Ford era Yves Saint Laurent “Windsor” loafers in black leather, Ralph Lauren black alligator belt with sterling buckle, vintage Rolex, a bit of Tom Ford Bronzing Gel provides a healthy glow and my fragrance is Creed Windsor (indeed, I felt very much like a Windsor, staying at Pestana Palace!).