As we love travelling on every day of the year, we also did so on Christmas. We spent the holidays at the Grande Real Villa Italia, a hotel I already stayed at one year before. As we also enjoyed our Christmas Dinner at the Grande Real Villa Italia, we got a lot to write about in this hotel review!
Cascais really is an amazing winter getaway. Located right at the Atlantic Coast just 50 kilometers away from Lisbon, the weather usually is a real treat even in December.
We were lucky enough to arrive on a sunny Christmas Eve.
As it was afternoon when we checked-in, the sun was still shining.
The staff was very welcoming and we got an amazing upgrade to a Seaview Retreat – pretty much the same room I got one year before.
The most amazing thing to write about in this hotel review about the Grande Real Villa Italia unquestionably is the room.
The Seaview Retreat is not the largest, yet the most amazing room category the hotel has to offer. A floor-to-ceiling window, a large terrace and an incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean. Is there anything more you may dream of?
As the sun was still shining, we decided to spend some time on the terrace – that was absolutely amazing even in December!
The room itself is really nice as well with a large working desk, a king size bed and a large bathroom that has a bathtub, a detached shower and also a detached toilet. There’s rarely any need to point out that the room was spotlessly clean as this is a standard to expect from a luxury hotel.
Even though the sun was amazing, we decided to also check out the Spa of the Grande Real Villa Italia. Named a “Leading Spa”, we expected to find something absolutely great to write about in this hotel review, but to be honest, the Spa is not really exceptional.
At first, we had to sign a long document stating that we were aware of the risks of a visit (water pressure, heat, etc.) before we were guided to the area itself. That one is very nice with a large pool with several different jet streams and relaxation areas (it’s not a pool for lap swimming).
There are also a large sauna and a steam bath with a decent temperature. Yet, there were only few lounging areas and the atmosphere was only so-so. Complimentary water was available, but besides that, there was nothing offered.
When leaving, we were “lucky” enough to get a surprise that we can feature in this hotel review. We should be charged a crazy 20 Euro (~ 22 US-Dollar) per person for the use of the facilities. Were we told before in the long introduction phase or at check-in?
Not even once. Even though the problem was solved, it was kind of a bad touch. Moreover, I’m not of the opinion that the area is that special that there is a need for an extra fee for hotel guests.
However, the gym and the outdoor pool (not heated) are available free of charge. The former is equipped with a few machines, but is a little dark in my impression.
The latter is only available in warmer months of the year, yet it is very nice with a size that is perfect for lap swimming.
After a bad surprise, it is also important to name a good one. After having Christmas Dinner on the first evening (see our Special for more information on the Christmas Dinner!), we opted for a lighter meal on the second one. We didn’t reserve as we weren’t expecting too many people in off season.
However, the restaurant was packed and there was no seat available – not even in the bar. Luckily, the staff at the bar was spontaneous enough to literally build a table for a party of eight from the stretch. The choice of food in the bar is nothing too fancy, yet there are some good choices.
We opted for some different options and were pleasantly surprised by the quality and the taste of the food. Afterwards, we were giggling that we even liked the spontaneous dinner more than the Christmas Dinner. Well done bar staff!
Breakfast is something that is really tough writing about in this hotel review. What the Grande Real Villa Italia offered was neither bad nor something special.
The buffet is okay with a nice choice of dishes and a lovely little “Spa Corner” with healthy treats. Yet, the atmosphere (if you are not able to sit outside) is a little depressing with few daylight. The staff is a little slow and not always friendly, but there were positive exceptions as well.
Cooked by order items were generally good, but not always warm. In summary, absolutely sufficient, but nothing to write home about.
There is a reason why this is the second hotel review about the Grande Real Villa Italia. Even though there are only few hotels I am likely to return to, this definitely is one of those. There were some problems with guaranteed benefits and there was also the very unpleasant spa experience.
But apart from that, the Grande Real Villa Italia once again proved to be a good choice, even in low season when the outdoor pool is rarely usable. The staff is so-so with some very good exceptions (e.g. they organized horse-back riding for our party) and some bad ones (e.g. they were not able to tell us the right way to the horse-back riding). All in all, the Grande Real Villa Italia is a really good hotel if you opt for the right room category. The Seaview Retreat definitely makes every stay perfect!