Lisbon, “The Capital of Charm” selling its palaces

Solar do Castelo Hotel, LisbonIt was officially announced yesterday that Lisbon’s City Hall is selling six of its historic palaces and mansions to be converted into boutique hotels. They date from the 18th to 19th centuries and are in an advanced state of decay, therefore needing major restoration works but with the possibility of being turned into some of Lisbon’s most fantastic places to stay.

Under the title “Lisbon, The Capital of Charm,” the sale will take place starting next month, with prices ranging from 400,000 to 4 million euros. The most expensive one has a private garden and is located not far from the National Pantheon, while Braamcamp Palace by the Santa Catarina viewpoint would offer some wonderful rooms with views.

Once turned into hotels, these will be small, charming or luxurious properties known as boutique hotels, and will offer between 15 to 40 rooms (at the moment there are already more than a handful of hotels of that category in Lisbon, which include As Janelas Verdes and York House in the Lapa quarter, Solar do Castelo by St. George’s Castle, and Britania and Bairro Alto Hotel closer to the center of the city).

If you don’t have those millions to buy the palatial properties for sale but still would like to make an investment in Lisbon, there’s another opportunity across the river. Close to the beaches of Sesimbra and not far from the Troia resort there is a plot of land being sold where you can build your dream home, which you can read more about here.


I spent this Saturday on the beach in Sesimbra. It’s a town I go to quite frequently in the summer because my girlfriend and I really like the place. Two years ago, I wrote here about a longer stay over Easter.

We left at around 1pm and drove south across the Setúbal peninsula. Sesimbra lies on the south coast of this peninsula, to the west of the Serra de Arrábida. It’s a 30 – 45 minute drive from Lisbon, and once again gave me an insight into the driving habits of the Portuguese, or one habit in particular.

You’ve pulled into the outside lane to overtake a slower moving car on the inside. Suddenly, there’s another car right on your tail, as close as possible to your rear bumper and impatiently indicating they want to overtake you, even before you’ve managed to get past the other car. I’m quite an experienced driver and this doesn’t make me nervous, but I’m amazed at how impatient these drivers are. After seeing them on the Vasco da Gama bridge, driving bumper to bumber at 140km/h, it comes as no surprise to learn that in Portugal 4 times as many people are killed in their cars as in the UK, for example.

But prudent and patient driving may also be seen on Portugal’s roads, and after an uneventful drive, we arrived in Sesimbra. We always head straight for the beach area and then turn to the right, driving along the sea front past the different restaurants towards the Hotel do Mar. In front of the hotel there are 2 or 3 small carparks, where it is almost always possible to park. You sometimes have to wait a few minutes until another car leaves, but on this particular occasion we parked immediately.

We headed off to the beach, planted our sunshade on the clean, white sands and tested the waters. Sesimbra is great for kids: the natural bay has a wide beach, the sea is calm and the water stays shallow close to the shore. I was expecting the water to be much colder, but on this early June weekend it was warm enough to swim for a good while without getting too cold. We had brought sandwiches this time, so we didn’t visit any of the varied sea-front restaurants, but there’s plenty to choose from here for those staying for lunch or dinner. The Lisboetans flock to this town at weekends but even so, it doesn’t get over crowded. A good day was had by all!