August 2016
Lisbon, Portugal

By Ross Belfer

Entering Palacio Belmonte in Lisbon's historic Alfama district is a physical experience. Imagine yourself drenched in the zeitgiest of Moorish and Muslim-era edifices with interiors decked in vintage furniture from the far reaches of Europe (and elsewhere) and Renaissance-period artworks -- plus five-star hospitality and top-tier service -- and Palacio Belmonte is something of that nature.

I was first turned onto the massive estate-turned-hotel by a photographer friend who had previously stayed in and, you guessed it, photographed the hotel. And I can see why. Leading up the clandestine passages and corridors into an endless artery of salons until I finally arrived in the Saint Jacques Suite, which comes replete with a private, plant-laced outdoor terrace and kitchenette, a sitting room, lush bedroom and marble-coated bathroom with a freestanding tub.

Within the bedroom also existed a small outdoor space with an original Muslim-period staircase that led to one of the original watchtowers from the 13th-century palacio. When I did muster the willpower to disembark from my private palace into the exterior of the property, I sauntered past vibrant horticulture, private garden spaces and the hotel's landmark courtyard with perfectly placed cobblestones and towering doors hued in a bold red.

A fine portrayal in passion emitted from affable owners Peter and Maria, who I was fortunate enough to converse with during my stay, as the obvious nature of Palacio Belmonte's obsession with true luxury and historic preservation flows within each preserved tile, hidden doorway and perfect light reflection that manifests into a property as special and distinguished as that which is depicted below.