Since I was at the Estoril recently I couldn’t miss to visit the famous Casino Estoril, considered the largest casino in Europe. The building of the casino started on 16 January 1916 by then-President Dr. Bernardino Machado, a venture of Fausto Figueiredo.
The history says that during the Second World War it was a gathering point for spies and diplomatic secrecy, dispossessed royals, and wartime adventurers. All that provided the region with a cosmopolitan atmosphere and sophistication. One of the visitors at that period was the famous novelist Ian Fleming.
He stayed at the Hotel Palacio Estoril, which is just few steps from the casino during a Second World War mission in May, 1941. Fleming was shadowing another spy, Dusko Popov, sometimes referred to as ‘the real James Bond’. It is said that Fleming got his inspiration for James Bond and his first novel, Casino Royale, from Dusko Popov, the Hotel Palacio and the adjacent casino of Estoril. In 2016, a book ”Into the Lion’s Mouth” was published about Popov and Fleming, written by Larry Loftis.
I won’t bother you with the history of the casino even it’s very rich. In this blog post I am going to describe my own impression and how I personally experienced my visit at the Casino Estoril and what Casino Estoril has to offer to visitors.
The building does not look so big from the outside but it is. Everything is bright and shiny outside and inside. The casino itself is the background at the end of the impressive Estoril Park ”Park Jordin do Estoril’‘.
First of all the access is free and it is open 24/7. At the entrance besides of two concierges and some security staff there are two policemen all the time. As we entered the concierge kindly asked us to leave our professional photo camera at the wardrobe next to entrance door, and we did it. This is the reason why this blog post will not be accompanied with a lot of photos that I took myself as my other posts. Most of the photos in this blog post are from the official Casino Estoril website.
There are a few nice restaurants at the casino. Some have exterior access but you can also have access within the Casino’s space. The first one is the Chinese restaurant Estoril Mandarim that has been distinguished as one of the most elegant in Europe, offering its customers the authentic art of cooking from the region of Guangdong, and most of the food is made with imported products from there. It has the exterior access from the Park Jordin do Estoril.
The next is Zeno Lounge the restaurant is recognized as one of the best restaurants of the new Portuguese cuisine. The menu is fusion-inspired, a rendezvous between italian and brazilian cuisines in a modern space with an extraordinary view over Casino Estoril’s garden Park Jordin do Estoril. Zeno Lounge restaurant has an exterior access from garden and serves dinner throughout the week, except Sundays. Both dinner and lunch are served on a daily basis.
The Nobre Estoril restaurant proposes a menu with the best specialties of traditional Portuguese cuisine. The Nobre Estoril is an adult-only restaurant, as its only access is from within the Casino’s space, next to Preto e Prata Salon.
Lounge D is a space in the center of Casino with unique characteristics where performers from the most diverse musical quarters perform, inviting the public to have a drink in an atmosphere of rare quality and comfort. There are regular concerts and entertainment events going on very often there and it has public and free access.
There is also the Casino Buffet where you can eat and drink whatever you like just for €15.
The restaurant Praia do Tamariz belongs to the casino but it is placed outside of casino on the Tamariz beach, just 5 minutes walking distance from the casino. They offer traditional Portuguese and Spanish cuisines. We had a dinner at the Praia do Tamariz restaurant the first night we arrived. The only thing I liked and enjoyed there was the unique panoramic view over the Tamariz beach, and the relaxing time I spend with my partner of course. The restaurant was kind of expensive and the food they served was not worth for the money. We ordered the fish mixed grill for two. I had the feeling that everything was frozen and that’s because they almost burn it at the grill to avoid serving frozen in the middle food. The taste was bland and dry. The plate was lacking of the fresh sea food characteristic aroma. We come from Greece and we know how the good and fresh fish is supposed to look, smell and taste. I expected that the fish on the plate would be at least fresh and not frozen, because they charge €50 only for the fish mixed grill for two. Believe me in the photo it looks better than it was the in the reality. The vegetables were OK, tasty and well prepared.
The service was nice but in the old fashion way. The waiter was standing just a meter above us and he was staring at us all the time. It felt kind of uncomfortable. I know he did this to be near by, just in a case we needed something, but again it was odd. Even the music they played was not appropriate and it was totally ruining the atmosphere.
At the casino Musical shows are taking place on Thursdays and Fridays at 21:30,
on Saturdays at 17:00 and 21:30 and on Sundays at 17:00.
On the first floor there is variety of the slot machines. They have 1100 slot machines and 200-plus game collection equipped with high quality sound and graphics. All the machines at Casino Estoril accept bills and payment tickets and some of them work with special gaming chips. When you enter the money the slot machine’s screen will indicate the bet value per play. If it the matches what you’re willing to bet on this particular turn, confirm it buy pressing “play”. Every time you win, the slot machine will automatically add the value to your credit counter. Some slot machines will offer you the chance to double your winnings.
I can say that It was my lucky night, because I enter €5 in the slot machine. I have never played with slot machines in my life before, so this was my first time ever. I didn’t know how to play and I was pressing the buttons randomly just to see what is going to happen. In some point the slot machine started to make strange noises, the lights was blinking and my credit was rising up enormously fast. When it finally stopped with noise, blinking and credit number turning I realized that I just win €150. I wanted to continue with playing but my boyfriend said that this is not very wise. So his voice of logic made me to go to cashier and take the cash I won from the slot machine immediately. I am glad I did it, because I spend this money later to by some nice things for me. It was a nice and exciting feeling to make €150 within few minutes though.
Later on when I searched for information about the slot machines I found the tip at the Casino Estoril official website that said: ”Before starting a game at our slot machines, check the winnings table to see which combinations of symbols and bets you ought to invest on.”
Well I think that the most important to know is when you wish to receive the credits you have accumulated so far you should press the button collect credits. The machine will print out a payment ticket, which you can present to cashiers or automatic payment machines or insert in another gaming machine. In the case that ticket printing cannot print the payment ticket, the machine will block until a staff member personally delivers to you your prize.
Another think that I liked and enjoyed at the Casino Estoril was the fact that there are a lot areas where the smoking is allowed. At the bars for example and also around the slot machines. We had a drink at the Jack Pot bar.
Some people write at the TripAdvisor that Casino Estoril smells like a cigarette smoke, but it’s not true. They have an excellent air ventilation system and it was not smelly at all.
I also enjoyed to watch other people playing. I noticed that a lot of them during the turning of the slots were covering the screens with their palms, and some others were rubbing and tapping the slot machines. Later on I searched on web about it, to find out why. And it all has to do with superstitious reasons. Sometimes they tap the machine, to force the jackpot out. Sometimes they cover the screen during the bonus round. While it seems kinda absurd and extreme to me, people actually do this crazy and superstitious things at the casinos all the time.
The sure thing is that in the casino everything is designed to keep you in as long as they can. Anyone who ever visited a casino knows that they are designed to make sure you’ll lose track of the time and of the money you’re gambling and probably losing. That means no windows and no clocks around.
The security is watching everything. The casino is very well-covered with surveillance cameras and the security staff were everywhere. At the one spot that we sat we noticed about 6 surveillance cameras above our heads. Casinos generally use surveillance cameras to look out for criminals who prey on tourists and to spot the cheaters. I am wondering if they can actually zoom into the somebody cards if they want to.
At the second floor of Casino Estoril, there is a nice art gallery. Cameras are forbidden upstairs, but also mobile phones. There you can play the table games: classic roulette, mechanic roulette, black jack, baccarat, french bank and Caribbean stud poker.
When I was a student I worked at the small casino for several months. I started as a waiter, but later on they trained me to work as a croupier at the roulette table. At the beginning I was just collecting, counting, separating and preparing the chips. Later they let me work as a croupier myself when my training was completed. To be able to work as a croupier you must have multiplication table in your head and you have to be able to multiply very fast. Besides this you also must have some desirable soft skills such as people skills and the ability to deal with different kinds of people, to be positive, to have social skills, communication skills, character traits, interesting personality, nice attitude, etc. But the working the whole night was to hard for me so I quit after several months, even though the money were great and I was receiving a lot of tips, it was a very exhausting job and I was loosing weight constantly. My mom was so anxious for my health.
I have seen a lot of people loosing a lot of money there. Sometimes I felt sorry about them. It was the times when I wish that I could say: “Sir, you’ve lost enough, you’d better walk away”, but unfortunately I could not said such of thing, because I was employed by the casino and my job was to maintain the good atmosphere and keep the gamblers around the table as long as I could. From all the games in the casino the roulette is one of the highest paying games. For example, Straight up, pays on a 35:1 basis.
If you like to play poker, there is a huge poker room at the Casino Estoril upstairs on the second floor .
Casino Estoril maintains an exclusive club that gives you an advantages in several areas of the casino and personalized service. They call it Clube IN. As a member of a Clube IN you can enjoy special privileges at the Casino Estoril.
The Black and Silver Room is the biggest room in the casino. This huge venue, with capacity for a thousand people, exudes a mystique that is impossible to hide, it is capable to impress anyone with its timeless beauty, unlimited technical resources and its underlining historical power.
The time pass by very fast at the Casino Estoril. As I previously mentioned everything is designed to keep you in. We stayed almost 4 hours without realizing it. It was an one of a kind experience and I will definitely recommended this place for visit if you are over 18 years old. On our way to the hotel at the parking in front of casino we noticed a gentleman crying in his car. We assumed that he lost to much money that night and that he was feeling sorry for his fate. One thing is sure, whatever we do in life we should have control of our actions and be aware of the consequences of our actions and behaviors.