Too good to be an hotel

254 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


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Date of travel

May, 2024

Product name

Coimbra Ameias

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“This is not an hotel,” said Paula when we arrived. Indeed it isn’t. Coimbra Ameias would put many anhotel to shame, not to mention being only about half the price of most. Nonetheless, there is no lack of creature comfort and solicitude. I had to ask for a city map in a Lisbon hotel; Paula had one ready for our check-in. She pointed out the many sights of Coimbra, and gave advice on when and how to book visits.
Excursions were also described, with a local tour guide ready to take us to the Roman city, the deserted shale villages or any other place in the vicinity. There was also a highly rated restaurant, Cardel, less than a kilometre away. Paula booked us a table and we had such a good meal we went again on the evening before departure.
We booked an excursion to Conimbriga, which turned out to be a fascinating experience, even with memories of Pompeii, Verulamium and Hadrian’s Wall. Sergio, the guide, was as thoughtful as Paula, explaining that he would take photos as we toured the site and send them to us after the visit, all included in the price.
As were staying six nights Paula gave us her attic suite, only after we’d set off up the four flights of stairs wondering if we could manage. No need: it was easy climbing and descending, especially when compared with the hundred-odd steps down we took to the riverside for visiting the city. What goes down of course goes up so now we are somewhat the fitter for the daily exercise, even if mitigated by a cool glass of wine at either end.
The suite was admirably fitted, with two double bedrooms and sitting room with kitchen space as well as a well-appointed bathroom. There were also extras: each afternoon we would a cake stand with good things from the morning’s breakfast buffet. We were never at risk of starvation.
Breakfast was a revelation: banquet rather than buffet, with the charming, ever-helpful Luis to preside over it, bringing endless cups of excellent coffee. Anyone wishing to stay in the house or, more likely, garden would again be offered refreshments.
From the garden, under a canopy, there was a view across the city, standing above its river like Durham but in buff stone as opposed to dark. Looking at it we could reflect on the many steep slopes and steps, each offering an interesting experience at the next turning. It was approaching graduation day so many students were in formal garb, sweltering in black under a clear blue sky in 25C heat. They were the graduands, junior students were in rag week outfits, good-naturedly collecting funds for the parties to follow.
Everyone at Coimbra Ameias, staff and guests alike, enjoyed the friendly atmosphere. At the end of out stay Paula even came for us in her car, delivered us to the station and ensured we had the correct tickets for our onward journey. All part of a service that is extra-special. We will hope to return, and assured of a special welcome.


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