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Palacio Belmonte, Lisbon 

14 Páteo Dom Fradique
Portugal 1100-624
Tel: 351 21 881 6600
view web site ›'s insider take:

The ten painstakingly renovated suites of this ancient palace (part of it dates back to 100 B.C.) by the Castelo de São Jorge in the Alfama will feed your dreams for years. A French financier, Frédéric Coustols, conceived and carried out the $24-million conversion of this palácio, built in 1449, enlarged in 1640, and incorporating Roman fortifications in its north tower and a seventh-century Moorish tower in the west. The largest suite, named Gil Vicente after the 16th-century Portuguese writer, has its own winter garden, three terraces, and a huge white Estremoz marble bathroom. The most extraordinary suite, named after Jesuit explorer Padre Himalaya, has a bedroom aerie with vaulted, beamed ceiling and windows on all sides perched on top of the Roman tower and accessed by a spiral stone stairway. There's also a multilingual 4,000-volume library, a chapel, a black marble swimming pool, and a café (open till 8 p.m., also to the public). What you will emphatically not find are hotel amenities such as a concierge, 24-hour room service, and pay movies. The AC, for example, is via stone ventilation conduits—i.e., the breeze method. There are, however, three phone lines per suite and, it's sweet to note, far from being a plaything of the rich, this is a socially conscious community with rent-controlled tenants in four adjoining buildings and ecologically correct everything.

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