After having stayed at the house for one night in mid-August 2012 as part of a 7-person group (4 adults, 3 children) I am very surprised to see so many generally positive reviews. I was quite disappointed. We stayed in the Chapel part (actually the old stalls), in a two-floor "apartment" consisting of 3 separate rooms (2 twin + 1 double), kitchen, very large living room (with space for extra beds) and 2 bathrooms.
Good things: the charm of a lovely old and picturesque house/property with nice view of Sintra (although it is quite far from Sintra, so you cannot really see much without a binocular). The property is like that due to its famous past owner. That's basically it for the good. Oh, there are a lot of pine trees (duh) and pine nuts and two of the children in our group love pine nuts, so that was good, but hardly a "service".
Now for the bad things:
(Premise: we stayed on the Chapel part (old stalls), I don't know if in the main house it's better but from what I saw I don't think so)
- cleanliness: there was dust everywhere. The house is old, yes, but it's not just a house anymore, it's also accomodation for people. The beds didn't seem freshly made too (wrinkled sheets) and my wife felt the need to use a towel around her pillow.
- broken facilities: one of the winning points for us in choosing this over other options was the fact that there were two bathrooms. It turned out that one of them had no working hot water and all taps had serious pressure issues, so in practice there was only one working bathroom (with problems of its own).
Apparently they also rent the 3 rooms in this "apartment" individually, using the 2 bathrooms as shared ones. It was bad enough for us who were part of the same group, I can only imagine how bad it is if you have to share the bathroom.
- breakfast: probably the poorest I've ever had while sleeping out and certainly one of the biggest problems of the experience because in Portugal you eat wonderfully anywhere you go. There was very little to eat and drink and it was also very much a DIY kind of thing, where you go to the fridge yourself to get milk, juice or yoghurt, you brew your own coffee, etc.. I can do that at my place, and I don't pay for it...
- misleading advertising: contrarily to what may be sold to you, this property does not have a pool. It has a small water tank (with all associated problems in terms of contamination).
- insufficient services: our group consisted of 3 children, one of whom requiring a babycot (<1 year). This was clearly specified in the reservation. When we arrived, an extra bed (suitable for an adult) was placed on the large living room, where in theory the baby would have to sleep alone. And there was even not enough space on any of the rooms to put this bed there. The explanation given was that they only had one babycot and this was already being used by another baby. First of all, they should have more, but then we actually found a smaller bed (the standard Ikea for children) in a closet in the room. They could have assembled this for us and that would have been a working solution. As it stood, we had to improvise ourselves. Yet another DIY aspect, that I don't expect from a "service".
- value for money: considering all the negative points above and others, it is very expensive for Portugal standards. And we had even been given an upfront 20 Euro discount. Still way too expensive for what it is. And we were also asked to pay in cash, because of the card commissions which have been recently increased in Portugal. I can have sympathy and agree that this is unfair, but if you are offering a service, just include that on the prices, don't tell people that you prefer cash instead of bank cards, which in my opinion gives you a bad image. Staying in the Sintra area is expensive and I don't recommend it, but this property is 8/9 Km from Sintra, so it cannot claim to benefit from the Sintra price inflation. Sabugo, the actual location, actually seems like a simple, uneventful place.
Overall, I thought it was a once fabulous place now owned and run by people who don't have the resources to maintain it and no service or costumer orientation. Unfortunately, this is typical in the Sintra/Cascais area, where fantastic properties end up (maybe by heritage) in the hands of people who cannot afford them. Properties like this require a lot of resources for maintenance and restoration and also good taste (the ceiling of the breakfast room was done with wood boards sprinkled with cement spots, seemed to have been taken from a construction site). "Old" in this case has to be only about age, not about the status of the facilities.
There are probably better places to stay in the Sintra area, although in general I would say that they are expensive and bad value for money. If you want to visit Sintra, I recommend staying in Lisbon and doing the 20-minute drive to Sintra instead. In Lisbon you have, for example, the 5-star Tiara Park Atlantic which offers fantastic services, rooms, breakfast for prices which are basically the same as the ones these guys ask for.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome To The House Of The She Pine Tree! The House of the She Pine Tree was built at the end of the XIX Century for a local farmer´s family, and expanded in the 30´s, when it was redesigned to its “Sintra Chalet” looks. It sits on the highground edge of the time forgotten villages of Sabugo and Vale de Lobo, in the county of the historic town of sintra (a Unesco World Heritage Site). The village rolls down the last west facing slope where the hills of Carregueira and Olela merge, with breathtaking views of the mountain of Sintra and its valley, with fabulous unlimited 270º degrees sunsets panoramas! The sea from Guincho to Ericeira lies just behind the horizon. The house was bought in the early sixties by the journalist, war reporter, radio and tv producer and speaker, painter, artist, award-wining novelist, theater and children´s stories writer, publicist, poet, antiquarian, art collector Olavo d´Eça Leal (Vd. Bio). The house will be the property of a foundation and hosts the temporary and permanent contributions of drawings, paintings, furnishings and personal objects of Olavo, constituting a Museum House. In order to sustain its maintenance and support the conservation of the house and its collection, the house is operating as an inn/bed & breakfast, a non-profit charity. The rooms are decorated with the art collection, furnishings, and personal objects of Olavo, on loan or donated by his widow, Emilia, and his son, Tomaz. The collection is constituted mainly by drawings from 1926 to 1976, the year he passed away in Oxford, covering 50 years of his work. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The House Of The She Pine Tree Portugal/Sabugo