In order to stand out and draw in business hotels need to differentiate themselves from one another and many times boutique properties don’t have the resources to do it on the same grand scale as chain properties do. But during my stay at Águamel in Sintra I learnt that that really doesn’t matter. The five bedroom boutique guest house opened last year and differentiates itself in multiple ways but probably my favourite way is the daily cake just sitting waiting for guests when they come down for breakfast.
The cakes are baked fresh every day and kept in the lobby for guests to help themselves and enjoy whenever they feel peckish. I found myself wondering what today’s was and what tomorrow’s will be but one thing that was consistent was the quality and the moist texture of each one. They were all completely moreish and I wish I could have stayed at Águamel for a couple more days to experience a whole week’s worth of cakes because taste wise they were unlike anything I’d had before.
When I arrived on Saturday the cake on offer was carrot and chocolate. Not a usual combination but one that worked extremely well and I loved the bright orange colour of the sponge. Sometimes photos don’t do the item being photographed justice but with the carrot and chocolate cake especially you can really see how moist the sponge actually is. I had this with lunch and should have gone back for more but foolishly resisted and have regretted it ever since.
On Sunday a peach cake awaited guests. It was unbelievably soft and sweet. I’m not usually a fan of cake and fruit mixed together but this was superb and just the right amount of peach for it to be more cake than fruit.
And on Monday it was chocolate cake which is always a big yes in my book. It was so soft and moist there was nearly no need for chewing at all, it was almost like eating melted chocolate which I am ALL FOR. I had a slice at breakfast with my chocolate cereal and really should have gone back for seconds or stashed some in my case after check out.
Cristina the general manager mentioned that guests often ask staff for their recipes and I can completely see why. These cakes outdid every dessert I can remember having both at restaurants and bakeries and although they look homemade and are homemade, the flavours, textures and unique combinations are all very professional.
These cakes prove that hotels don’t need big budgets to make a memorable difference or to differentiate themselves from the competition, and I love Águamel for that. Whether they meant to or not they’ve done a fantastic job at standing out and even now I’m wondering what delight the lucky guests of Águamel are being treated to today because I am desperate to get in on the action.
(I was a guest of Águamel Sintra Boutique Guest House as part of a press trip to Portugal)