An Historic Hotel Near a UNESCO Heritage Site: The Hotel Santa Luzia
The Alentejo region of Portugal is generally considered the breadbasket of Portugal. Here, the best-known crops are wheat, cork, olives and wine. Dining and sightseeing opportunities abound in this bucolic region. One of finest examples of a medieval fortress town is also in this region, Elvas, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2012. Midway between Madrid and Lisbon, the garrison border town of Elvas and its fortifications are situated high on a hill, overlooking the plains of Alentejo below in several directions, and just 10 kilometers from the border of Spain and the Spanish city of Badajoz.
The medieval city of Elvas, its walls, towers, castle, churches, museums and shops, offers tourists a plethora of options for a day or weekend getaway. Just outside the city walls is a well-kept historical hotel, built in 1942, named the Edificio Pousada de Santa Luzia, or simply, the Hotel Santa Luzia. The term “pousada” means “inn” or “lodging” in Portuguese, and is derived from the Latin word from which we get the word “pause” as in “rest.” The word Pousada appears in large letters on the building and is visible as you drive your car into the parking lot entrance. [Note: In the early 1940s the Portuguese government created hotels called Pousadas that were both rustic and genuinely Portuguese. Coincidentally, the first Pousada was built in Elvas, in the Alentejo, which would be the first of what were hoped to be “small hotels that look nothing like hotels.” However this first Pousada is no longer in use. Today there are 44 Pousadas installed in historic buildings run by a private company.]
After visiting the nearby town of Évora—with its 2nd century Roman temple, 13th century cathedral and other historic treasures, we drove to Elvas and found the four-star Hotel Santa Luzia located directly on the edge of a roundabout. We were greeted by the cheerful receptionist who quickly checked us in and began answering our questions. “Would you like to have a map of the town?” she asked. “Of course,” we answered. She then produced a fine, large, fold-out tourist map and showed us how the medieval city was just a short walk from our hotel. She quickly circled a few of the most worthy sites to visit and then assisted us to our room. Guests who book a room here will find the newly renovated hotel’s multi-lingual staff to be very helpful and friendly.
There are twenty-five rooms in the hotel, divided into Standard and Deluxe. Standard rooms come with a double bed or two beds, feature Alentejo hand-painted furniture and offer views of either the pool, toward the Gardens, toward the city, or views of the famous Amoreira Aqueduct. The Aqueduct is the most outstanding monument of Elvas, seven kilometers long and still in operation. It was built between 1498 and 1622 to bring water from Amoreira, eight kilometers away. Our Standard room had two beds and featured a balcony that looked out toward the medieval city. It also had a minibar, hair dryer, air conditioning and flat screen TV. Superior rooms are more spacious and offer added features, such as a Living Area, and amenities such as a coffee maker, bathrobe, slippers and a wider range of free care products. On our 2nd level floor there was a central reading room where guests can relax and enjoy a quiet space.
Dark red rectangular floor tiles—almost like brickwork—and stark white walls, drapes and lampshades gave our room an authentic, scrubbed and local feel. In addition to handpainted furniture (desk, chair, mirror, end-tables, and headboards), the bathroom featured hand-painted tile. The look and feel of a 1940s hotel was maintained throughout, yet the modern conveniences of the 21st century such as flat-screen TV and internet service, brought our room up to date. Twin glass doors opened out to our balcony, enlarging the feel of the room and allowing us to gaze at the fortress city of Elvas a short distance away.
The Hotel Santa Luzia has a bar with terrace as does the Restaurant 1942, known for its regional specialty Bachalhau Dourado, since 1947, the famous Portuguese Golden Cod, as well as the classic Pezinhos de Porco de Coentrada, Pork Feet in Coriander Sauce and Borrego Assado no Forno, Roast Lamb. The restaurant has a sizeable banquet room to accommodate large groups. (Please see our review of this restaurant in an accompanying article.) Another restaurant in the Castle of Estremoz is owned by this hotel as well, named A Cadeia Quinhentista. Guests at the hotel may use the swimming pool, two game rooms and tennis court. The Bar serves cocktails and appetizers and, like the restaurant, has relaxing views of the swimming pool. There is free parking for up to 60 cars. Free wi-fi internet is available to all guests as well.
The room rates for this renovated, four-star hotel are reasonable and the location is perfect for local sightseeing. The Restaurant 1942 offers an incredible Tasting Menu for just €26 per person, while the wine pairings for this menu choice featuring locally-produced wines are exceptional in taste and value. Many travelers have found that the border location of Elvas with nearby Spain makes it a perfect place to stop and refresh when traveling between countries. The Hotel Santa Luzia is a great choice for comfortable lodging and fine dining.
SL Hotel—Santa Luzia
Avenida De Badajoz, Edificio Pousada de Sta Luzia
7350-097 Elvas, Portugal
Tel. +351 268 637 470/472
Fax. +351 268 622 127