Rural Charm Hotels in Portugal
Portugal by... Condé Nast Traveler
The reason why there are so many really well-designed country hotels in Portugal is a mystery. Or maybe not. In any case there is no scientific explanation to justify the high level of rural chic style of our esteemed neighbours (Portuguese). It’s a trend that has ceased to be so some time ago, to become a way of understanding idleness. And life. Because those who know how to enjoy their free time know what we mean.
Let’s try to work out what are the factors that have contributed to the country being dotted with such bold, attractive and well-designed hotels. Let’s see: these are spaces of restrained ambition. None of them is trying to conquer the world, or aims to become a global reference. They are places of modest dimensions, unpretentious and providing personalised services. A very Portuguese feature. Another factor is their pride on their roots. These places are 100% local, designed by local people but with an international calling. They are well aware of the word "global". Since the houses are small and usually managed independently or within the family, they have nothing to lose. That is, they can take risks only to the extent of their goals. So, we can find hotels of cork and others with a dream beach. There is nothing to lose.
Here are some examples from all over the country of hotels whose style is special. None of them is in a big city. We look at them all with a feeling of envy. A healthy envy. The classic envy of someone who admires what his neighbour has.
PORTO AND THE NORTH
Carmo´s Boutique Hotel, Ponte de Lima
Situated in the north of the country near the border with Spain, this hotel combines all the virtues of the new Portuguese hotel industry. It has only three suites and twelve prestige rooms, all with unpredictable décor, harmoniously combining the past and present. The spa revives some ancient treatments such as bathing in 100% goat milk.
This is not a hotel, but a set of eco-houses, which is not the same thing, or even similar. There are seven of them, half-hidden in a thermal zone with dense vegetation. They were designed by architect Luís Rebelo de Andrade with the aim of standing out from their surroundings. The exterior seems to mimic the trees, while the interior, by contrast, is white and linear. All the houses have access to the Pedras Salgadas Spa & Nature Park, a thermal park designed by Siza Vieira. If you’re passionate about contemporary architecture and hydrotherapy, this is for you.
Design Wine Hotel
Wine is part of the identity of our esteemed Portuguese neighbours. So wine hotels make every sense. The few in existence are excellent because in Portugal they don’t do things by halves. It is not in the countryside, but in a small village. Don’t be fooled by the façade of the building, with its whitewashed walls and vernacular architecture. The interior is crazy. Its 23 themed rooms are all different and have an unexpected design. The basement offers a selection of wines from around the country, giving preference to the wines of the Douro and Alvarinho and Loureiro Vinho Verdes. There is also the Whitebox: a fantastic space set aside for art. And all this in a small town.
Casas do Côro - Marialva
An unusual place. Is it a village or a hotel? Casas do Coro is a group of houses located in the mediaeval village of Marialva, classified as one of the 10 historic villages of Portugal. Marialva is the Houses and vice versa. There are houses of all sizes, for families or lovers who don’t want to mingle with anyone except themselves. Ten houses and suites, all of them designed solely for comfort or contemplation. Includes a spa and an obsession with good wine. A perfect refuge on hot or cold days, day or night.
Casa da Ínsua - Penalva do Castelo
This is probably the most classic hotel in our selection. And currently there is nothing as modern as being a self-assured classic, as this Baroque Manor House is. It was built in the 18th century by Luís de Albuquerque de Mello Pereira e Cáceres, Governor of Cuiba and Matto Grosso, and is now a five-star hotel. It retains its history, literally a different one for each room. But it has also been adapted perfectly to the age of Twitter, with its reinterpreted local cuisine and its 21st century comforts. Casa da Ínsua has its own wines and, of course, it is impossible to stay here and not try at least one of them. Impossible and, indeed, unwise.
Areias do Seixo - Póvoa de Penafirme
You’ll find everything you expect from an authentic eco-hotel here: strong environmental awareness, local food, organic products, community support.... The design is an extra. This is the response to the minimal rural hotel trend: here you can find curves, textures and reminiscences of China, India and Morocco. It has fourteen bedrooms and four villas that accommodate two to seven people. It is opposite the beach and only half an hour from Lisbon. And of course, we need it urgently.
Ecorkhotel, Évora Suites & SPA, Évora
A hotel made of cork. The title alone grabs your attention. Cork makes sense: it is part of the nature and wine culture of the area. Furthermore, it is a natural material, local and sustainable. Not to mention being an excellent natural insulator. And applied to the hotel’s avant-garde architecture, the design could not be more contemporary. This hotel offers 56 suites in the Alentejo countryside, with all the characteristic wildness and aridity of the location. To compensate, there is shade and a spectacular pool. It has just opened and will provide a lot to talk about.
Villa Extramuros, Arraiolos
It is not necessary to travel the world to feel adventurous. The Alentejo is teeming with adventure. This land is arid and elegant, and it has a very rich culture. The places we found do not baulk at setting avant-garde architecture against the landscape. Villa Extramuros is a remodelling of the traditional country house. It is decorated with classic 20th century furniture and has only five rooms. The pool, overlooking an olive grove, is like the rest of the village, as photogenic as Kate Moss, as the Chrysler Building. But perhaps even better are the neighbours: some fine-looking sheep.
Casa da Ermida, Elvas
The location itself is already quite unusual. This guest house is very close to the border with Spain, on a peninsula in the river Tagus, on the Caia reservoir. It's worth crossing the invisible frontier that joins Spain to Portugal to discover such an immaculate place. The rooms overlook the strange lake that forms around the house. The house is attractive and the service is personal. It conveys a serenity that is completely unknown to us. There is no television, that so common and so unnecessary object.
L´AND Vineyards Luxury Wine Resort, Montemor-o-Novo
If you have the opportunity to stay in bed gazing at the stars, why not take it? They say the Alentejo sky is one of the clearest in Europe. The rooms were designed to take advantage of this, so the roof can be moved, literally, like in a convertible car. This hotel was designed by the Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan, and is a true interpretation of the phrase "sleeping in the open". It also has a strong link to the world of wine. Imagine yourself in a suite at the L'And under the stars, with a bottle of good wine at your side that causes shivers of pleasure.
Malhadinha Nova - Beja
This place meets all the requirements of a contemporary Portuguese country hotel. It is the project of a family committed to recovering and reviving its land and its Alentejo farmhouse. Everything at Malhadinha is a celebration of its roots. Its protagonists, apart from the guests themselves, are the local wines, the cattle and pigs of the region and the olive groves. Don’t be fooled by the traditional appearance of the house - this hotel is completely contemporary: its pool, its chairs and, above all, its spirit.
Casas na Areia - Comporta
The Bohemian-chic dream of many of us: a cabin in Comporta. Wood and the surrounding sand under your bare feet and the Atlantic in the background. This is what those who know this secret paradise are seeking, but less and less. These four houses take this concept to the extreme: the ground is sand. It’s an idea from the architectural studio of Aires Mateus and is absolutely not recommended for those who are looking for a getaway in high heels or moccasins.
Fazenda Nova - Tavira
Tavira is popular because it is charming and vice versa. Its fame as a pleasurable place has, of English appeal and endless beaches, doesn’t prevent it from having quiet places like Fazenda Nova, an old farmhouse refurbished in unquestionably good taste. It has ten suites with views and access to the garden. And what a garden! This is a garden that cries out for a book and a glass of port wine.
Villa Vidro - Vilamoura
Some people, when they are on vacation, like to live like the locals. Others prefer to rent a villa. We don’t blame them. Especially if it is a place like Villa Vidro. It is situated in the heart of the Algarve, a stone’s throw from the beach, close to the golf courses (for golfers who need to be close to the green) and is perfect for either a large family or a group of friends. It has everything you need for those spring and summer nights: bicycles, swimming pool, barbecue. And in a very chic environment.
Vila Valverde Design & Country - Praia da Luz
A 19th century farmhouse transformed into a modern country house in the best sense of the word. Located in Praia da Luz, it has just fifteen rooms. The secret of this place is the use of space, the dimensions and the light that you can enjoy. And that is without mentioning the aesthetic dialogue it establishes with its environment. It offers several options for your enjoyment: a spectacular outdoor swimming pool in summer and an indoor pool for the winter, bike rides, wine tasting in its cellar, or simply a stroll through the gardens.
Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel. Sagres
You need to lose your fear of the word ‘resort’ when it is applied to places like this. This five-star hotel and its family villas are situated between a natural park and the beach. It is austere but not impersonal, contemporary but user-friendly, discreet but never dull. Martinhal has also thought of the children with its aquatic and leisure activities for older kids because it will make them feel quite grown-up. A complete offer for everyone, because it is an excellent hotel facing one of the best seas in Europe. A recipe that never fails.
Quinta da Amendoeira - Amendoeira
Almost ten acres for a dozen people. It’s the density of this farm that seamlessly combines seclusion and a great location. That is, for those who want to lose themselves, this is the right place, but for those looking for social life, they can find it on the nearby beaches of the Algarve and in cities like Loulé. It offers a magnificent saltwater pool and terraces and places where you can devote yourself to reading or simply watch life passing by. The charm of this place lies in its serenity. Peace cannot be imposed: either you have it or you don’t and in this place, this miracle really exists. The villa is rented in its entirety.