This is the only time I have felt the need to write a review on a hotel. My wife and I have stayed at many hotels in different parts of the world but I have to say this one to my mind ranks way down the list. In fact almost bottom.
We stayed at the Pestana Palace for two nights at the end of a 9 day holiday. The two previous hotels we stayed at, namely the Lisboa Plaza and Vila Gale in Cascais were excellent in terms of facilities, cleanliness and service. Bearing in mind that the two previous hotels are 4 star and the Pestana Palace claims to be a 5 star, we were expecting a level of service that reflects such an establishment. Other reviews that I have since read that come under the categories of Terrible, Average and Good have a common theme throughout and that is service and the restaurant. They are not wrong.
Let me start with the good points – yes the main building is very palatial, yes they open the doors of your taxi when you arrive and yes it has lovely gardens, pool and spa etc. But I’m afraid that’s about it.
My wife is a Pestana Gold PPG member and as such should receive additional ‘VIP’ services. Albeit these are quite small they were non-existent at the hotel, even though they were aware of her membership. Not a great start.
Once we had checked in and were shown to our room, which incidentally is nothing to write home about as it’s a basic room that you would expect to find in most hotels of this size, I rang reception for some ice. After about 30 minutes nothing arrived, a second call resulted in the ice being delivered – I was beginning to wonder if this was a sign of things to come.
We decided to go and have a drink at the bar and sat on the small terrace area. After about a 15 minute wait for someone to come and take our order we went in search of a member of staff and after two separate requests we were eventually presented with a drinks menu.
I should point out at this stage the price of drinks and food is outrageously high. As there is nowhere in the near vicinity to go and eat then the only alternative is a taxi ride into town.
We then spent the afternoon around the pool where the loungers are pushed very close together as it is quite a small pool with an even smaller seating area. There was of course the usual problem of people leaving towels on the sun-beds so that you didn't really know whether they were free or not. No attempt was made by the hotel staff to monitor the situation.
We then thought to try out the spa facilities but soon found out that both the turkish bath and the sauna were not even turned on – another 15 – 20 minute wait for this to be sorted out. I didn't really think things could get worse – it did – read on!
We had heard great things about the restaurant so we decided to give it a try. We entered the restaurant, which only had about three other tables occupied, just after 8pm and after ordering from an over-engineered, over complicated menu we were still sitting there an hour later with no sign of our starters. Bear in mind at his point, this is a meant to be a 5 star hotel and as such you would expect some level of service. A group of 8 people entered the restaurant and were served immediately and received their first course shortly afterwards, whilst we sat staring at our second offering of bread roll, olives and oil (which incidentally was initially forgotten about and turned up late). Eventually my patience got the better of me and I summoned the maitre de to find out if there was any chance of getting fed that night. Shortly afterwards our starters arrived – cold. The amount of food on my plate was small to say the least with two minute pieces of lobster.
The second course arrived immediately after but was close to being inedible – tough and not very hot. At this point we had had enough and for only the second time ever as far as I can remember we got up and left before finishing the meal.
Following our complaint to the receptionist a duty manager arrived and after explaining to him the catalogue of disasters, his offer was a bottle of sparkling wine and some chocolates. We didn’t really want this, what we wanted was a standard of service that befits a supposedly 5 star hotel.
The following morning and things hadn't changed much – three requests to get cutlery for our breakfast (one of those requests was to the man running the restaurant that morning) and a very lengthy wait to get some glasses for the fruit juice.
It was very apparent that a lot of youngsters were serving tables etc, under the supposed guidance of more senior staff. I certainly don’t blame the youngsters for the appalling service as the blame has to be placed with the management team – some of whom definitely had an attitude problem.
The following morning it was time to check out and I had the feeling it wasn't going to go smoothly – I was right.
The bill was presented and the percentage deduction for food and beverages, which my wife should receive as Pestana Gold Member was missing. We then had it explained to us (no actually it was more of a lecture) that we should have shown the card every time we ordered something. This was not explained when we checked in as the receptionist acknowledged the fact we had a gold card and everything would be taken care of. Additionally, this is not the way things had been done in other Pestana hotels we had stayed in. So after a slightly heated debate between myself and the man behind reception who had clearly missed the point about the ‘customer is always right’ and who personified the overall service this hotel offers, we beat a hasty exit to our taxi and left for the airport.
I will finish on one positive note. The man that runs the bar, Carlos Lopes, provided excellent service. He was attentive, engaging and appeared to be extremely happy doing his job. So well done Carlos and I just hope the management of this hotel can learn something from your professionalism and apply it the rest of the establishment, because if that doesn't happen then I think guests of the hotel will get very tired of the sloppy approach you have to customer service. Needless to say we won’t be returning.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Pestana Palace Hotel & National Monument, member of the "The Leading Hotels of the World", is a 5 star hotel in a 19th century palace located in the city of Lisbon, and its gardens, with a variety of plants and subtropical trees, are classified as "National Monument". ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Pestana Palace Lisbon
- Hotel Pestana Palace