The Bussaco Palace Hotel – A Tapestry of Culture, Nature, & Luxury

Estimated read time 8 min read

What is Bussaco Palace Hotel and where is it located?

Imagine stepping into a living, breathing postcard that captures Portugal’s rich tapestry of culture and architecture. Right in the heart of the ancient Bussaco National Forest, this historical treasure once served as both a monastery and a palace. Here, elegance and grandeur aren’t just words; they’re the essence of every nook and cranny, offering a truly extraordinary escape for those in search of a life-changing experience.

But what really sets Bussaco Palace Hotel apart is its jaw-dropping Gothic architecture and verdant gardens. It’s like stepping into a different era—an era of regal splendor and refined taste. Whether you’re yearning for a romance-filled getaway, a soul-soothing sanctuary, or an experience that’ll make your Instagram followers green with envy, Bussaco Palace Hotel is an absolute must-visit when you’re gallivanting through Portugal.

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Its stunning Gothic architecture, elegant furnishings, and lush gardens distinguish Bussaco Palace Hotel from the typical hotel experience, taking you back in time to a time of grandeur and sophistication. Bussaco Palace Hotel offers something truly special, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Portugal.

How did Bussaco Palace Hotel come to be?

It was originally built as a summer residence and hunting lodge for a King of Portugal, Carlos I. It was built between 1888 and 1907 and designed by the Italian architect, Luigi Manini. The palace was crafted in Neo-Manueline architecture style, which is also known as Late Gothic. It is characterized by opulently carved stone doorways, columns, and windows. 

Constructed on the site of a former convent, some parts of the convent remain preserved within.

Unfortunately, one year after it was completed, King Carlos I was assassinated while traveling in an open carriage in Lisbon and never had the chance to enjoy the beautiful palace.  His son, King Manuel II visited the summer before the royal family was exiled to England in 1910.  

In 1911, the king’s Swiss Chef Paul Bergamin was allowed to turn it into a hotel.  By 1917, the Alexandre de Almeida family took over and still continues to manage it.

Inside you will find many of the original antique furnishings and historical glazed azulejos that tell stories of Portugal’s history including the Battle of Bussaco in 1810 when the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon’s troops.

Photo Credit: Booking.com

What types of rooms and suites are available at Bussaco Palace Hotel?

There are 5 types of rooms and suites available at the hotel starting from $130/nt with higher prices on weekends and during the summer months. 

  • Superior Double or Twin Room (Overlooking the forests or gardens)
  • Classic Double or Twin Room (Decorated with period furniture from 18th Century to Art Nouveau)
  • Romantic Package Double Room (Includes breakfast in the room; chocolate fondue and sparkling wine in the room; chocolate truffles; turn down service.)
  • Superior Double or Twin with Extra bed 
  • Junior Suite (1 Queen Bed – overlooks the gardens)

Amenities at Bussaco Palace Hotel:

  • Free parking
  • Free WiFi
  • Room Service
  • On-Site Restaurant & Bar
  • Concierge
  • Meeting/Banquet Facilities
  • Chapel/Shrine
  • Languages spoken: English, Spanish, French, & Portuguese
  • Children welcome – babysitting services available for a fee
  • Enjoy the exclusive Bussaco wines available for guests.  

What attractions and activities can guests enjoy near Bussaco Palace Hotel?

Attractions and activities include cycling and hiking from the center of the Bussaco National Forest.  As you enter the forest to get to the hotel, you will pay an entry fee at the gate of approximately $5 per car.

On the hotel grounds: 

  • Convento de Santa Cruz do Buçaco – former Carmelite monastery constructed in 1628.
  • Esplanade da Mata do Bussaco – coffeehouse
  • Mesa Real – restaurant on site
convent 1
Steps to Convent area.

Inside the surrounding forest, you will find trails and paths leading to grottoes, tiny chapels, pools, springs and fountains.  The forest was propagated with exotic species of plants and trees by the Order of the Discalced Carmelites that also built the boundary walls.  

  • Saint Theresa Fountain is a fountain near the spring Fonte de São Silvestre and the church Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Conceição.
  • Fonte Fria (Cold Fountain) is fed by cool spring waters cascading down 144 stone steps into a lake.
  • Portas de Coimbra – one  of ten entry gates built by the Carmelite monks.  On the outer wall, you can find the stone tablets that were engraved with direct orders from the Pope (papal bulls).  One dated 1622 prohibited women from entering the forest and the other dated 1643 excommunicated anyone found to be harming the trees.

Only 40 minutes away from Coimbra, the Bussaco National Forest and Palace Hotel are great stops as you travel between Porto and Coimbra.  If you choose to stay in Coimbra and only want to visit the forest, you can opt to book a guided hike that will pick you up instead. 

What dining options and facilities are available at Bussaco Palace Hotel?

Mesa Real serves Portuguese cuisine in the former Royal Banquet Hall overlooking the gardens.  Options range from a 7 course tasting menu (145 per person) to a 5 course tasting menu (75 per person) and a la carte selections.  Seared cauliflower, lagoon oysters, and Gazpacho are available a la carte. 

Sample from Tasting Menu:

Slow baked suckling-pig belly, Figueira da Foz clams, monolisa potatoe hachis with copita, smoked porc jus  and wine pairing – Buçaco Tinto Reservado 2016 

Complimentary continental breakfast is served and room service is available.

Is Bussaco Palace Hotel Right for You?

If you’re looking for a an interesting hotel that offers more than just a place to sleep, go no farther than Bussaco Palace Hotel. This isn’t simply a hotel; it’s a mystical environment where romantic architecture, a love of nature, and the rich fabric of Portuguese history coexist harmoniously. But what’s the true show-stopper? The beautiful forest that wraps its lush hug around the hotel. It’s as if the cosmos worked together to create a haven of calm and serenity, a place where you can truly unplug and rejuvenate.

The Lore of Bussaco National Forest: A Tale as Enchanting as the Trees

This forest is more than just a setting for the hotel; it’s a character in its own epic story. According to legend, the forest was once the sanctuary of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites, who not only built the border walls but also replenished the forest with exotic plant and tree species from all over the world. 

They even went so far as to engrave papal bulls on stone tablets, one of which prohibited women from entering the forest and another which excommunicated anyone detected causing harm to the trees. Talk about taking tree-hugging to new heights!

But the forest’s legends don’t stop there. It was also the stage of the Battle of Bussaco in 1810. The Duke of Wellington proved victorious over Napoleon’s army in these very woods. Spend some time in them and you’ll come across grottoes, small chapels, and fountains along the way, each with its own story to tell.

The Saint Theresa Fountain, for example, is supposed to be a healing location, but the Fonte Fria—literally “Cold Fountain”—is a cascade of chilly spring waters that drop down 144 stone steps, as if nature itself is beckoning you to relax and take a break.

Dive into the allure of Bussaco Palace Hotel by booking your stay today.  Indulge in luxurious surroundings, be immersed in rich history, and bask in the tranquility of the forest.  Don’t wait, make your reservation now and experience the magic of this unforgettable destination.

Happy Wandering in the Bussaco National Forest!

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