Thursday, December 10, 2009

HOSTEL REVIEW: Pensao Nova Sintra, Sintra, Portugal

OVERALL RATING: 5/5
DATE OF VISIT: November 6-8, 2009

PLUSES: It has to be said that this place is one of those few hotels and hostels that you book with a bit of uncertainty, but would turn out to be the best choice you've ever made for a long time. Words are not enough to cover how great Pensao Nova Sintra is: the entire place is so romantic and enchanting (it almost looks as if it has come out of a vintage postcard or an Audrey Hepburn movie!) that staying inside when you don't feel like going out, or sitting in one of the benches in its porch with a fabulous view of the mountains, is an experience in itself. Everyone in the staff, led by manager Rui Bernardo, has mastered the art of hospitality and will be more than glad to help you out even with your minutest concern (case in point: my phone charger got broken and Rui had another charger to spare). When you google it or look for it in the maps, the pensao's location may initially seem inconvenient for walking to tourist spots. But lo and behold, all of Sintra monuments are on top of the mountain and you wouldn't even want to walk to any! The public bus (was it 425?) that goes to all these monuments departs from the train station, a stone's throw away from this hostel. If you're up for some traditional Portuguese dishes, you may opt to dine in this hostel's restaurant that serves quality food in generous portions, or go a nearby churrasquería (a stand for roasting meat to go) and grab a few humongous slabs of beef or pork or chicken.

MINUSES: There is nothing to complain, but if I would really have to name one, it's probably the chore of doing the reservation. Since they didn't have any automatic reservation online, you have to e-mail or fax your credit card number to them.

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