Penha Longa Resort & Spa Review

Honeymoon or Wedding in Sintra

Penha Longa Resort

December in Portugal: a magical season full of holiday spirit, festive decor, and, if you happen to stay at Penha Longa Resort and Spa, a life sized gingerbread house!

A festive Christmas atmosphere is evident upon entering the lobby. Two towering 20 foot trees occupying the lobby floor along with more silver balls than we could count.

Dueling aromas fight for supremacy. On one hand are the two fresh Christmas trees occupying the lobby space. A few steps away, sheets of gingerbread and icing formed into an impressive shed structure complete with red chair for Santa!

Both smells compete for our attention in an equally intoxicating mix. However, the gingerbread wins out primarily due to its proximity to the well stocked gin bar!

Getting Acquainted

A smartly dressed young woman named Alara smiles and warmly welcomes us to Penha Longa. We make our way to the gin bar and sit with Alara as part of the welcome check-in process.

Chatting, we learn that it is her final day of a 6 month internship at the resort. Her bubbly and outgoing personality serve her well for a front of house position, and I have no doubt she will go far in the industry. Even though it is her final day, she dutifully creates a personalized printout of the surrounding towns and amenities for us.

The longer we stay at the resort and interact with staff, it becomes apparent that Penha Longa hires well suited employees, has a rigorous training program, or both!

The Verdict

We strongly identify with old world, romantic wedding venues such as those on offer at the Ritz Carlton owned Penha Longa Resort. The centuries old structures with large, ornate spaces are certainly good value for money. For a medium or large size wedding, you’ll be able to craft a memorable wedding experience. The rich Portuguese royal and monastic history of the site is exactly the type of wedding venue we love – its been around for hundreds of years doesn’t need much decor accents.

We had a memorable stay (in winter no less!) and can highly recommend Penha Longa Resort & Spa.

A Honeymoon at Penha Longa is well suited to a wide variety of activities such as golf, hiking, city exploring, or laying on the sandy beaches nearby. Suites are spacious and comfortable with all the amenities you need. Sintra is at your doorstep and offers a fascinating look at the Portugal of days past.

The stand out quality of Penha Longa has to be the dedicated and professional staff. We met a number of employees and had the chance to chat on a more personal level. Each had nothing but good things to say about the resort, and that is evident in their approach to how they play their respective part.

About the Resort

“Penha Longa Resort is located within a 545-acre national Park near Sintra, and was originally founded as a monastery in the fourteenth century. Once the retreat for the Portuguese Royal Family, the resort boasts a spectacular 27 hole golf course, historic ruins, and a stunning Spa and Wellness center among other amenities.”

A loan security gatehouse at the front entrance is nearly hidden by a canopy of encroaching trees. We can’t see the resort’s buildings from the road, and must pass through the checkpoint to gain access.

Knowing that, we slowly drive along the winding path to the reception area, sensing the sprawling property’s overall size. The gated aspect creates a sense of anticipation and lends an air of exclusivity.

Golf course on either side, we round a corner and glimpse the main building; attendants stand at the ready to whisk away our luggage. There’s no hiding or ducking in the side door. The gatehouse has already radioed ahead, which means the reception staff know who we are and that we are approaching!

We take it all in stride and exit our pristine rental car – an economy class Kia – whilst flashing a smile at the valet and saying ‘Obrigado’ in an acquired broken Portuguese accent.

The Rooms

The resort has a total of 194 guest rooms, each with a balcony that offers incredible views of the Sintra Mountain range and the resort’s well manicured golf course.

Our Room

Our room for two nights was an executive suite situated on one of the main corner’s of the building, overlooking the pool areas beneath and a lush fairway in the distance. Ample space and room means you’ll have plenty of space to store your luggage, golf clubs, or shopping bags. The bedroom offered a quite and dark room, along with a super comfortable and spacious king sized bed. A covered balcony and large floor to ceiling widows provide us with a view of the misty hill side and southern side of Sintra.

Penha Longa boasts a Michelin star restaurant, and six restaurants in total:

  • il Mercato

  • LAB

  • Arola

  • Midori

  • Aqua

  • B Lounge


Our bed and breakfast rate meant we enjoyed a morning meal at il Mercato. The restaurant sets a contemporary Asian feel and dazzles guests with magnificent views of the surrounding Sintra hills.

Breakfast consisted of a regular buffet filled with fresh fruit, cheese and meats, bakery goods, yogurt and cereal. In addition, an selective breakfast menu provides additional fare such as omelettes. I will admit, it wasn’t as elaborate and memorable as some other resorts we’ve stayed at in Portugal. Nonetheless, the food was tasty and gave us the morning energy we needed to explore the surrounding town of Sintra.

Coral Ashby has worked at Penha Longa for the past two years as the wedding director. Originally from South Africa, her Portuguese ancestry called her home in order to preside over this fantastic wedding venue.

We walked the grounds of Penha Longa and quizzed Coral about the fascinating history and present day reincarnation of the monastery, stables, and other potential wedding venue areas.

Our favorite is ornately decorated monastery room that opens out onto a wonderful courtyard. However, larger wedding parties of up to 500 guests can party the night away in other areas like the walled wading pool.

We encourage you to check out all that Penha Longa has to offer as a luxury wedding venue in Sintra by browsing their website. Then, give Coral a call and tell her we sent you!

Coral told us one story about an Indian wedding with over 300 guests that setup a rowboat for the wedding ceremony, and the groom rowed across to meet the bride on the other side. We love venues like Penha Longa offer many opportunities to explore the depths of a wedding planner’s imagination.


In need of a rejuvinating spa treatment after a tiring day at the links? The resort spa and wellness center offers therapies and treatments along with a stunning garden and relaxation area.

We had a chance to spend an hour with Spa Director, Antonio, and connect with his philosophy on mind, body, and soul. His presence and sense of peace was both intoxicating and fascinating. He explained his decision to leave a high-powered corporate job – monk who sold his Ferrari anyone? I think it speaks volumes about the allure of Penha Longa as both a retreat for guests and a sanctuary for staff.

Antonio spoke with true passion in terms his mindset and approach to a healthy body and healthy mind. His gentle nature and soothing demeaner guided us through the different spa areas.

Tip: Don’t miss the outdoor labyrinth!

Antonio took the time to explain the labyrinth’s meaning and purpose before leaving us to traverse its path and find our own spiritual way.


Penha Longa resort is located in the hills of the Sintra mountain range around the corner from Sintra town’s iconic sights, and a short drive from the wonderful city of Lisbon.

It was our second time in the Sintra area, but we found more than enough to keep ourselves occupied. Visit Sintra town and see the ethereal open air spiral staircase at Quinta da Regaleira, or wonder the brightly colored Pena Palace.

Driving to the west side along the coast and see a monolithic old fort turned hotel, fending off the crashing waves and wind.

Or, explore the many sights in one of the best cities in the world – Lisbon!


  • Pena Palace – 6.5km

  • City of Cascais – 11km

  • Cabo da Roca (Most western point in Europe) – 15km

  • Lisbon Airport – 31km

  • Lisbon Center – 35km