Solar Do Castelo– Lisbon, Portugal: We stayed at the Solar Do Castelo for only one night but that gave us enough time to enjoy all that the hotel had to offer, which wasn’t an awful lot, except for its prime location inside St. George's Castle walls and its first-class service. Located at the top of Alfama, Solar Do Castelo is a small two-storey mansion converted into a charming boutique hotel with a medieval contemporary style. A former kitchen of the first Royal Palace, dubbed as the “Kitchen Mansion,” this hotel a historical and fascinating place to stay when you’re in Lisbon and want to get away from the city proper.
First Impression/Lobby: Driving to the hotel is a chore in itself. We were lucky enough to find it somehow but not after asking for directions no less than five times. A small building with an inner courtyard and garden, the Solar Do Castelo felt more like a bed and breakfast than a five-star, luxury hotel.
Reception: The moment we entered the hotel, the front desk clerk warmly greeted us and immediately made us feel at home. She was efficient, friendly, and sincerely helpful. For a boutique hotel, the reception was superior!
On the way to the room, I expected a bellman to help with our luggage. To our dismay, I we found out that the hotel did not offer a bellhop service. The fact that the receptionist had to carry our bags up a small flight of stairs made me feel bad. Clearly, this was not a five-star experience.
The Room: Our room, the Alfama Room, was supposed to be one of the best rooms in the hotel but it was so small that there was barely enough room for our luggage.
The décor was a cross between country cute from the 1980’s and a rustic cabin, neither of which rate very high in my book. The amenities were pretty basic, including a flat screen TV, satellite TV, DVD player, and wireless internet access. Needless to say, it was not a place of luxury.
It is in their service where Solar Do Castelo excelled. Every request was promptly and cheerfully attended to.
Room Service: The room service menu was very limited so we decided to order out. Sadly that ended up a disaster in terms of taste, service and presentation. Regardless, the young lady from room service was very attentive. Her pleasant attitude helped us to forget the disappointing food delivery.
Housekeeping: Since we stayed for just one short night all I can say about housekeeping is that upon arrival, our room was spotless.
Concierge: As this was a small hotel (without a bellhop), the concierge service was handled by the front desk, and once again, perfection. She gave us great recommendations and followed through with every request. A superwoman!
Restaurant: Solar Do Castelo does not have a proper restaurant. Instead, they serve buffet breakfast in the garden or in the “Sao Jorge” room. The breakfast was not much, but it was not too bad either.
Pool/Spa/Activities: Other than wandering around St. George’s Castle, there is not much to do at the Solar Do Castelo in terms of leisure activities. The services offered include free wireless internet access, free use of computer and printer, and a DVD library. Cars are not allowed inside the castle walls and parking is difficult in the area.
Overall ImpressionSolar Do Castelo is perfect if you want to have easy access to St. George’s Castle. If you are looking for a place that is near the other areas of Lisbon, or is at least easy to come and go from, this is not the place. While the service is top notch and five-star, the location and the size of the rooms make it a place I just cannot highly recommend. Overall rating: Between Bombastic and Not.