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The Torel Palace Lisbon

Chloe Reeve experiences Portugal's capital from above at The Torel Palace Lisbon

It’s been twenty years since I visited Lisbon. My memories of Portugal’s capital are hazy- but what remains etched in my mind is the smell of cinnamon-dusted Pasteis de Nata fresh from the oven. And whilst I’d gladly write an entire feature on custard tarts, in reducing Lisbon to the merits of its infamous pastry, I’d be doing it a great disservice. Because Lisbon, which has always been a culturally vibrant city, has in the last few years become a chic, cosmopolitan destination that welcomes visitors from all over the world.

After a few days in the capital, one realises that there are two ways to be a tourist in this city. Submerge yourself in it, get lost in the tangled ancient streets … or… reflect upon it from above. And whilst I personally recommend a mixture of both, the second option is infinitely more relaxing. And there’s no better place from which to enjoy the view than from The Torel Palace Lisbon.

The Credentials

The Torel Palace Lisbon is a luxury boutique hotel that opened its doors in 2013 and forms part of the Portuguese group, Torel Boutiques, who have a number of properties across Lisbon and Porto.

With twenty-five rooms, five apartments and a private villa, The Torel Palace Lisbon manages to be both grand and homely. Alex on reception, who is absolutely charming; takes our luggage and shows us to our room on the top floor of the 19th-century blue palace, which retains many of its original windows and panelling.


Each room and apartment has been individually designed by interior designer Isabel Sá Nogueira and named after a Portuguese King or Queen. We stay in D. Afonso Henriques- whom I later find out, was the first King of Portugal, famous as one of the country’s founding fathers and also for the brutal act of imprisoning his own mother. But worry not, because the room he’s inspired is delicate, peaceful and romantic.

The blue and white toile wallpaper extends from floor to ceiling and conjures images of Lisbon’s ceramic tiles. Sleek black furniture, luxe soft furnishings and twinkling chandeliers compliment the bucolic scenes and French doors open up onto a balcony with views that stretch from the Castelo S. Jorge, across the city’s rooftops to the sparkling Tagus River. Staying in ‘D. Afonso Henriques’ is like falling asleep in a cabinet full of Royal Dalton – a plush cabinet I might add. The King Size bed and delicate cotton sheets are a heavenly refuge from the city’s busy streets. As well as maintaining the palace’s traditional features, the room is fitted with all the mod-cons; a Nespresso machine, a minibar, air conditioning and a well-stocked snack tray.

The bathroom has wall-to-floor mirrors and plenty of deliciously scented products to try. There is a generous dressing room – perfect if one of you is considerably messier than the other and has insisted on bringing eight pairs of shoes!


Dinner is served in the newly opened Black Pavilion: a glass orangery-type building with large critical windows and opulent curtains. The design here is ‘laid back luxury’ which echoes the menu of local crowd-pleasers and international favourites with a Portuguese twist.

We start with Beef Tartare and Pan-Fried Scallops. The scallops are well-cooked and the tartare is nicely seasoned. For the main course, we have The Sirloin steak, which is perfectly ‘medium rare’ and comes with a side of very truffley, Truffled Mash. My husband chose a Monkfish dish served with prawns that arrives in a Le Creuset and is texturally similar to seafood risotto. It showcases local flavour and pairs beautifully with a slightly effervescent Vinho Verde.

For dessert, we share Crepes with Gran Marnier and Yuzu Sorbet. The yuzu is a thoughtful and modern addition to this fine-dining classic.

Breakfast is a generous affair that caters to all types of morning diner; ‘continental’, ‘cooked’ and ‘healthy options’ are served buffet-style in the Black Pavilion. Local cheese and cold cuts are in ample supply and there’s a wide selection of cooked items including perfectly crisp bacon and a boiled egg station. A heaving platter of miniature pastries showcases the best of French and Portuguese patisserie (and their small size means it’s perfectly acceptable to have more than one).  Those looking for a lighter breakfast will enjoy the fresh fruit, yoghurt and granola pots and a selection of freshly squeezed juices that change seasonally. Fans of fresh bread will be spoilt for choice topping-wise… There’s a slab of fresh honeycomb from which guests are invited to help themselves, ‘Torel’ branded jams, chocolate spreads and little jars of butter marked ‘salted’ or ‘unsalted…’ a decision that proved a step too far for my uncaffeinated brain, so I took both.

Out and About

The hotel is situated in a leafy, picturesque part of Lisbon close to Bairro Alto, which offers great places to eat and drink. The hotel is also well-positioned for visiting the magnificent Castelo S. Jorge and The Botanical Gardens; which are resplendent with tropical plants year-round and during summer, provide a much-needed shady spot to unwind.

The Crowd

Young trendy, international couples. Adult families on a weekend break and Lisbon sophisticates, who pop into The Black Pavilion for a tasty local dinner.

The Worst Thing

It’s a small thing, but I’ve been waging war on fake flowers for a while and they seem to be fairly popular in Lisbon. Whilst, I’ll admit, they look great in the mirrored bathroom – ecologically speaking, I’d rather have real or nothing at all.

The Best Thing

There are three things that make The Torel Palace Lisbon a must-visit… the staff, the interior design and the pool with a view. Large sumptuous cabanas in the mature palace gardens offer the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a cocktail after a busy day of sightseeing.

The Torel Palace Lisbon is currently under expansion. The recent acquisition of an ancient palace with a tower heralds the addition of another ten rooms and suites. A brand new spa and heated pool are due to open later this summer.

The Details

A room at The Torel Palace Lisbon starts from £284 per night

Rua Câmara Pestana, 23 · 1150-082 Lisboa · Portugal

Tel. +351 218 290 810