Rich in art, culture, music and gastronomic delights (it's not all salt cod and custard tarts these days you know - step forward the freshest fruits de mer and award-winning local wines) paired with sprawling white sand beaches and a year round mild climate, Lisbon and its neighbouring coastal villages are the perfect destination for a chic city-beach weekend break. On my recent inaugural trip to city and its cosmopolitan cousin Cascais I also discovered a thriving luxury spa scene...
Grande Real Villa Italia, Cascais
A former residence to King Umberto II, the last king of Italy, Villa Italia, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, retains a palatial feel; sleek Italian marble, sparkling chandeliers, and sumptuous furnishings don the entrance while a mix of contemporary and traditional rooms and suites, each unique in design, arch the bustling seawater pool and family friendly al fresco lunchtime hub.
Regina Maria Pia. One of three penthouse suites, the contemporary 'seasuite' dressed in bold retro aqua prints mixed with gentle sandy hues, Regina Maria Pia is HUGE - a duplex loft style apartment - there's a dining room, drawing room, lounge, kitchenette, a decked conservatory with private Jacuzzi and day beds and three, yes THREE bathrooms!
Constructed using reclaimed marble from the original palace Real Spa Marine spans 1,000 square metres. A veritable haven of tranquility, with candlelit corridors and a rich décor of Romanesque pillars and earthy gold mosaics. The state of the art Thalassotherapy circuit - includes lymphatic drainage and reflexology jets. Treatments nod towards the holistic and include oriental reflexology, shiatsu and aromatherapy. Facilities include Vichy showers and ice fountains, a thermal suite, Hammam and relaxation room.
Real Villa Italia Massage. A round of the thalassotherapy and thermal circuits to relax the muscles is followed by a deep lavender inhalation then a salt and lemon foot scrub. The light relaxing body massage using lava shells and warm almond oil laced with gold leaf to nourish the skin leaves me with a shimmering glow and completely zoned out. A pressure point head and foot massage completes the holistic journey.
Poolside snacks, pizza and pasta at Mare Bar & Terrace. Portuguese a la carte, & posh tapas at La Terraza. Don't miss the wonderful Portuguese buffet at La Terraza every Friday night. In room dining available.
A stroll in to town to sample the famous ice cream at Santini's Gelato. Y.U.M.
The Deal: The Spa World 7 nights including a 6 day spa programme £530 based on two sharing
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, Lisbon
Just 20 minutes from Lisbon airport, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz sits proudly on a hillside at the top of the city. Towering 10 storeys above Eduardo VII Park and bestowing birds eye panoramic views of the city - with a stunning penthouse gym and rooftop running track for workouts with a view. Dating back to the late 50s there's an air of Hollywood glam - huge floral displays, chandeliers and shiny gilted mirrors dot the opulent grand entrance and cocktail bar, and smartly clad staff busily buzz to guests needs.
736 Deluxe King. Decorated in soft neutrals with a splash of royal blue and gold chintz - there's a comfy bedroom-lounge studio room with doors to a balcony with spectacular city views. The marble bathroom with tub and walk in monsoon shower has a generous selection of L'Occitane products. Fresh fruit and mineral water are provided daily.
Spanning the basement The Ritz Spa sports a contemporary western design with an eastern influenced treatment menu. Seven treatment rooms sit along a tranquil candlelit corridor leading to an 18metre swimming pool with a relaxation terrace and floor to ceiling windows for beautiful garden views. Other facilities include separate sex steam and saunas an ice shower and spa café serving herbal teas and fruit.
Portuguese Retreat, the spa's signature treatment, was created by the spa manager Claudia and is inspired by an ancient Portuguese tale -The Almond Trees in Blossom (which tells a love story of King Ibn Almudium). The treatment begins with a sea salt and almond oil foot scrub followed by a chime of the Tibetan bell for balance. A body scrub then a full body aromatherapy massage using nourishing almond and relaxing rose oil. It concludes with a pressure point Indian head massage and second chime of the bell. Portuguese bliss!
Try the Portuguese buffet lunch - a plentiful banquet of fresh fish, grills, salads and mouthwatering desserts. There's also a bar and terrace menu and in room dining available.
A wander up to Barrio Alta for spectacular views and bustling bars and a trip to The Botanical Gardens where you'll find prehistoric plants and hidden dinosaurs!
Double room from €375 per night with buffet breakfast (taxes and service charges included)
Portuguese treatment: €215 per person
TAP operates year-round flights to Lisbon from London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester. Return fares for a weekend in November 2014 from London start from £141 per person.