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  • Writer's pictureCarryOn Travel News

Palácio Estoril: Where Fiction meets Reality

By: Carmelo Martino

Bouganvailia Terrace (All photos courtesy Palácio Estoril Hotel and Spa)

Few places feel like a classic Hollywood film. But that's the feeling that washes over guests as they enter Palácio Estoril - a grand hotel located in the beachfront town Estoril, Portugal. The 160+ room luxury hotel is a unique gem that has stood the test of time. At over 90 years old, this magnificent palace offers a glimpse into a bygone era of grandeur and sophistication.

The history of Palácio Estoril is an intriguing mix of real events and fictional tales. Throughout its existence, the hotel has stood witness to world wars, national revolutions, and significant historical moments. It served as a refuge for European leaders during times of crisis and has even hosted spies. Perhaps it was he hotel's illustrious past that made it the perfect venue for the filming of several movies, including the iconic James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Today, Palácio Estoril continues to be a sought-after location for advertising and fashion shoots.

A haven for royalty and celebrities, Palácio Estoril has long been the preferred destination for distinguished guests from all walks of life. Since its inauguration in 1930 with the honeymoon of Prince Takamatsu, the brother of Emperor Hirohito of Japan, the hotel has welcomed numerous kings, princes, movie stars, musicians, writers, and politicians. In the 1940s and 1950s, it became a location of choice for royal families from Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Albania, and Romania. In the 1960s, millionaires, actors, and emerging jet-set personalities flocked to Palácio Estoril, followed by a resurgence of big stars in the 1970s, 80s, and beyond.

Legends in the Guest Book: The hotel's prestigious guest book and picture albums are filled with the names of illustrious individuals who have graced its halls. Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, the entire Spanish royal family, Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Graham Greene, Joan Baez, and Madeleine Albright are just a few examples of the countless famous guests who have chosen Palácio Estoril as their temporary home. The hotel's historical highlights include hosting the wedding festivities of Princess Maria Gabriela de Saboia in 1955 and that of Spanish Princess Pilar, daughter of the king, in 1967.

Designed in the early 20th century by the renowned French architect Henry Martinet, Palácio Estoril emulates the fashionable European destinations of its time, like Biarritz. Remarkably, the palace has managed to retain its allure and relevance throughout the century, embodying the highest standards of beauty and quality. Today, as visitors explore the magnificent salons, terrace, gardens, and swimming pool area outside luxurious rooms, they are transported to a world where beauty and excellence endure.

Palácio Estoril stands as a testament to the grandeur of the past, offering a timeless experience to all who visit. With its rich history, impeccable service, and remarkable preservation, it remains one of the last posh destinations in Portugal on par with Europe's best.


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