Sintra may be located just a short hop from the bright lights of Lisbon, but in terms of charms and atmosphere, it couldn’t be further. While Lisbon endears itself to us with its ‘take me as I am’ attitude of chipped tiles and crackled paintwork, Sintra is manicured to perfection, its lush green hills harbouring secret palaces and gardens. Sintra’s star attractions, Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira look like they’ve fallen straight from the pages of a fairytale book. Accommodation needn’t cost a king’s ransom however…
In Sintra, you’ll struggle to find anywhere to stay more perfect than the former residence of a Spanish duke, especially when a night’s sleep in the enchanting Nice Way Sintra Palace hostel costs just €16 per night.
Nice Way only opened its doors to the public in January 2011. Guests will find rooms are light and airy with quirky touches such as vintage furniture and chandeliers. The wall finishes are definitely a talking point. If you look carefully, you’ll notice hand painted mushrooms sprouting from skirting boards and tiny song birds inked above window frames. The dining/lounge area is especially attractive, with a well-stocked library of books and DVDs and there’s free wi-fi.
Unfortunately I can’t promise that you’ll encounter the same colourful array of characters that I had the pleasure to meet. What can I say only they were suitably eccentric. Hmm let’s see there was:
- a glam Vanessa Redgrave – esque hippie who made and sold her own jewellery at various spots around Sintra
- a mysterious lady hailing from exotic Madagascar who was partial to a tall tale or two
- a skinny, hipster student couple from Brighton obsessed with Sintra’s dark side
- a former tour guide who was biding her time in Portugal before heading back to Australia
Like all hostel aquaintances, each was fascinating in their own way.
What you’ll definitely find:
To the side of the house, there’s a sun-trap garden equipped with patio furniture and loungers – perfect for a lazy day of chilling or some quiet time with a good book.
With a bit of luck, you’ll also meet Nuno, the talented resident chef. During our stay, the gentle giant whipped up an impressive menu of traditional Portuguese starters, mains and desserts. His seafood rice was especially delish. A three course meal at Nice Way cost no more than €10 and was one of the best options around, given the fact that restaurants in the UNESCO World Heritage town seemed to shut up shop at around seven every evening.
*Jaded backpackers beware, nice way, yes, but the route to this hostel from Sintra bus station/train station is also looong and steep…your feet will thank you for splashing out on a taxi.