Portuguese actors, musicians and wealthy Lisboetas flock to Estoril during the summer. It’s Portugal’s answer to Sandbanks or The English Riviera along the Devonshire coast. Rumour has it that even Cristiano Ronaldo is building a house in this neck of the woods. We can see why. It’s a short drive or train ride from Lisbon, the beaches are superb and it’s close to a magical national park. For all of those reasons, the five-star rated InterContinental is prime real estate. It also helps that it overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is flanked by Lisbon and Cascais. Picture spellbinding ocean views, quality, laidback customer service, spacious contemporary rooms and excellent facilities, including an indoor and outdoor pool.
Guests can walk from InterContinental Estoril to the charming fishing village of Cascais in 25 minutes via a wind and wave-battered promenade in winter. Lisbon takes around 40 minutes on the train, which meanders along the sea from the Portuguese capital and pulls up in front of the hotel. The fairy-tale town of Sintra and the surrounding Sintra-Cascais Natural Park are under 20 minutes away by car. There’s also a strung of beaches within walking distance of the hotel, including Praia do Tamariz, Praia da Rata and Praia da Duquesa. Meanwhile, a cab ride to the airport only takes 30 minutes.
Sea-facing rooms, in grey, blue and white hues, at InterContinental Estoril are understated and elegant. Floor-to-ceiling patio doors slide back to reveal huge balconies and gasp-inducing views. Surfers, fishing boats and ships bob by regularly, and the sky changes from a light morning glow to an otherworldly amber at sunset.
Inside, sliding doors have latches to let in fresh briny air and ocean sounds. Thick blue, grey and yellow patterned carpets create a sense of comfort, and pretty framed azulejos tiles tie everything back to Portugal without being pastiche. Beds, as you’d expect, come with premium sheets, pillows and mattresses that make sleeping a breeze.
Meanwhile, the ocean is visible from the bath, shower and toilet if you leave the doors open. However, clever sliding doors can be drawn if you’d like some privacy. TVs are large and have a host of international channels – the hotel is in the process of adding screen mirroring devices for Netflix and the like. Rainfall showers are incredibly powerful and come with various funky light settings. Scandi toiletries are sweet-smelling and high-quality, and there’s a coffee machine, minibar and fridge. For remote workers or those on business, the crème de la crème is the work desk overlooking the ocean.
Style, staff and stuff 9/10
InterContinental Estoril only has 59 rooms, so feels more like a large boutique hotel with its subtle, contemporary furnishings and laidback yet professional customer service. Set over just three floors (the floors above are private apartments), the hotel is compact, easy to navigate and secure – you’ll need a key fob to get through the sliding glass doors to your room.
The outdoor pool area, which overlooks the ocean, is serene with plenty of beds and a bar area to order snacks. Swimming in the indoor pool is like taking a dip in a hollowed-out gold bullion – the gold tiles shimmering under sunlight. There’s also a steam room and sauna and luxurious leather daybeds to unwind on. The hotel also has a small spa are offering excellent massages for reasonable prices (shoulder-dropping back massages cost less than £50).
Just off the lobby, there’s a bar, lounge and decked area where guests eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Again, while always looking out to sea. Staff, like the lovely Joanna and charming Andre, swirl around chatting to guests, giving out recommendations and tending to their guests’ every need. What stands out is that everyone who works at the hotel greets you with a smiley hello and seem genuinely happy to have you there (and sad to see you leave).
Food & drink 7/10
InterContinental Estoril has an on-site restaurant, Bago du Vin Gourmet Bar & Terrace, serving various dishes, from quality hamburgers to twists on local classics like a deconstructed bacalhau a bras – a local classic. While the evening menu is fine, it won’t knock your socks off and is one of few areas the hotel could improve. Although the lemon meringue dessert is a triumph.
Breakfast at InterContinental Estoril is on the money. All the Mediterranean classics like croissants, fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereals are covered with local pastries – including pastel de natas. Fresh smoothies, healthy juices, fresh salmon and champagne are bonuses. There are also hot plates with beans, sausages and eggs. Guests can also order additional options, like eggs Benedict, Florentine or pancakes, from the QR code menu.
Double rooms from around £140 a night
Avenida Marginal, 8023 2765-249, Monte Estoril, Cascais, Portugal.