LISBON, Portugal -- After recapturing this port from Moorish troops
in 1147, Afonso Henriques, Portugal's first king, built his castle
on the ruins of a hilltop citadel here, in Alfama.
Successive rulers enjoyed the bird's-eye views of Lisbon from
the Castelo de Sao Jorge, or St. George's Castle, for 364 years
until Manuel I moved to newer digs downtown, in Baixa.
Today, visitors can share King Afonso's perspective on the city
now that a handful of small boutique hotels have begun to open
within the rebuilt castle walls.
The four-star Solar do Castelo, which opened in April as the
fourth city property of Hotels Heritage Lisbon, occupies the
Palacete das Cozinhas, an 18th century mansion built on the site of
old royal kitchens.
The hotel's 14 guest rooms are individually decorated in
contemporary style and boast modern comforts such as modem jacks
and satellite TV.
Large-hotel amenities available at this intimate hideaway
include a concierge, room service, Internet access, bed turndowns
and same-day laundry.
Perched atop a warren of steep, cobblestone lanes, the hotel
even sends a golf cart to collect guests below, a concession to
U.S. patrons who travel with a lot of luggage, said assistant
manager Ana Beatriz.
Nightly rates at Solar do Castelo -- which pays 10% commission
-- are about $148 for a standard double and $182 for a superior
double through Dec. 27; single and triple rates also are
If October's occupancy of 45% -- down from 70% in September,
said Beatriz -- is any indication, the off-season is ideal to
secure rooms at this hotel.
Around the corner, the smaller but equally stylish eight-room
Solar dos Mouros was opened last year by local painter Luis Lemos
on the site of an ancient Moorish gate.
With sweeping views of the Tagus River and Baixa, rooms feature
air conditioning, CD players and safes. At press time, rates ranged
from $100 to $175 per night, double, and up to $240, triple, with
reduced rates from the fourth night; the hotel does not pay
On the eastern side of the castle hill, the exclusive Palacio
Belmonte -- which debuted last year in a 1449 palace after a
six-year, $16 million renovation -- pays agents 10% on eight deluxe
suites priced from about $300 to $900 per night.
"As our rates are very high, agents can earn a lot more," said
manager Maria Mendonca, adding that Americans comprise the bulk of
Each suite is individually decorated in antique furnishings; the
hotel also has a lap pool and garden.
To contact the Palacio Belmonte, call (011) 35-1 21 886-2582 or
To book Solar do Castelo, call (011) 35-1 21 321-8200 or visit www.heritage.pt
on line. For Solar dos Mouros, call (011) 35-1 21 885-4940 or visit