Pousada dos Loios – Evora, Portugal: Originally a 15th century convent that was later converted into a school, later an army garrison, and then an office building, until it finally became a hotel in 1965, the Posada dos Loios in Evora, Portugal is a government-run hotel where old world charm meets modern-day-comforts and luxuries. The setting is romantic—located near the main cathedral and adjoining a first-century Roman temple—but its architecture is comparably nondescript and almost dull. Inside, however, is cozy, charming and full of warmth and character.
First Impression/Lobby: The magnificent neighboring structures in the area were so impressive that the Pousada dos Loios seemed boring in comparison; seeing it was anti-climax. While I found its exterior unimpressive, the inside was a wholly different matter. While it was not what I would call elegant, the arched ceilings, the heavy and over-stuffed furniture, and the endless antiques surely took me back in time. The interior had a level of sophistication, class and style that was missing on the outside.
Reception: We had a warm and friendly welcome from the gentleman behind the reception desk, and almost as soon as we got there, he checked us in without a problem. It was a refreshing experience compared to the Pousada in Crato where it took forever for our registration to be completed. In Pousada dos Loios, not only was registration simple and efficient, the staff also showed superior service by quickly attending to our bags and parking our car. I wondered to myself, was I at a Pousada or a luxury five-star hotel? At this point it was hard to tell the difference.
The Suite: Our suite, Cela 112, was one of the hotel’s two suites. As suites go, our room was on the small side but the beauty and the cheery ambiance of the living room more than made up for it. Hand painted mosaics on the walls and ceilings added to the room’s elegance, and the tall windows let in an abundance of light that made the room feel more spacious that it really was.
The tiny, cramped bedroom, on the other hand, was dull and paled in comparison to the living room. The gold wallpapered walls and golden colored bedspread made it feel even smaller. Most of the rooms in the hotel were originally monk’s cells, so austerity and minimalism still echoed strongly inside those walls.
The marbled bathroom seemed to have been updated recently and was more appealing than what I was expecting. It had a single basin sink, an eagle claw antique shower/tub combo (with the dreaded wrap around shower curtain), and a toilet. While the bathroom was small and cramped, it was at least fresh and clean.
Room Service: Their room service menu was limited to a few local cuisines and some European staples but the speed and professionalism they showed was true five-star.
Housekeeping: As we were only there for only one night, we did not have the opportunity to witness their housekeeping’s daily service. Upon arrival, however, the room was spotless and fresh; an indication that housekeeping does take pride in their efforts!
Concierge: The concierge services were handled by the front desk, which in most hotels with the same arrangement, usually meant poor service and average recommendations at best. Surprisingly, here at Pousada dos Loios, the restaurant recommendations and concierge service provided by the front desk was exemplary.
Restaurant: We dined at the hotel’s glassed-in restaurant for breakfast, and as with the breakfast we had at the Flora da Rosa in Crato, it was uninspiring, dull and second rate. I am not sure if lunch or dinner is any better but if the breakfast was any indication I would surely steer clear of eating there again (and I did).
Pool/Spa/Activities: The hotel had a small pool at the back. It looked like a refreshing place to relax, but to my dismay, the hotel did not offer any type of pool service and did not serve food and drinks around the pool. Strangely, there was a bar just a few steps from the pool area but it was not open; my hopes for a relaxing afternoon by the pool never materialized.
Overall Impression The Pousada dos Loios came close to providing five-star luxury service except for the non-existent service in the pool area. The restaurant served second-rate food, and while the suite was pretty, it was too small to be impressive. Overall Pousada dos Loios gets a rating of Between Bombastic and Not.