Hotel Palácio Estoril - History and Facts | History Hit

Hotel Palácio Estoril

Estoril, Portugal

Tristan Parker

20 Sep 2021
Image Credit: Alexandre Rotenberg / Shutterstock

About Hotel Palácio Estoril

Hotel Palácio Estoril is a luxury five-star hotel on the west coast of Portugal with a private golf course, plus an attached spa and wellness centre. It featured in the sixth film in the James Bond series, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

History of Hotel Palácio Estoril

Built in a formerly rural area in 1930, the hotel was founded by Fausto Figueiredo, who commissioned architect Henry Martinet to bring his ideas to life – the key aim was to build a venue combining a thermal spa with a sports and leisure venue.

Figueiredo’s goal for creating a successful hotel business was primarily to attract customers from England and those travelling by train from Biarritz – a coastal town in southwest France – to Estoril. To achieve this grand aim, Figueiredo became involved with the plans to create a railway running to Estoril, which began properly in 1928.

Since Portugal was, officially speaking, neutral during the Second World War, various royal families went into exile in Estoril, some basing themselves at Hotel Palácio, which had become well-known as an exclusive spot by this time. The hotel’s popularity with European royal families continued after the end of the war, acting as a favourite haunt for Italian, Spanish, Bulgarian, French and Romanian families across the years. A Royal Gallery, featuring photos of various royal figures at the hotel, was even created in 2011.

As well as a significant royal contingent, it’s alleged that the hotel also played host to various spies and members of the intelligence communities from both Britain and Germany during World War Two. One particularly famous example turned out to be Ian Fleming, a British writer known for creating the James Bond series, who also served as a British naval intelligence officer. Fleming stayed at the hotel in 1941 while working with Duško Popov, a Serbian double agent who is thought to have been one of the inspirations for the character of James Bond.

That wasn’t the only role of the hotel in the James Bond saga, however. More than two decades later, Hotel Palácio Estoril was used as a filming location for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the sixth film in the Bond series, released in 1969. Not only does Estoril feature as James Bond’s hotel in the film (the exterior, swimming pool, lobby and rooms all feature in the film), but members of the cast and crew stayed there during filming in 1968, including George Lazenby, who played Bond.

Hotel Palácio Estoril today

The hotel is still a popular lavish getaway. The famous Bar Estoril visited by Fleming is still in use and features a ‘007 Martini’ in tribute, based on the Vesper Martini created by Fleming and ordered by Bond in the 1953 novel Casino Royale, and later in the 2006 film of the same name. The martini recipe in both the book and the hotel consists of gin, vodka and Lillet, a French aperitif. José Diogo, a hotel concierge who appeared in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (he also played a concierge in the film, handing George Lazenby a room key), still works at Hotel Palácio Estoril.

Getting to Hotel Palácio Estoril

The hotel is located in Estoril, a town in Cascais, Portugal. Estoril is around 30 minutes away from the centre of Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, by car. It’s also 15 minutes away from Sintra, a beautiful and hugely popular town for tourists visiting Portugal.

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