Portugal’s important global role as a colonial power brought enormous riches and influence, which are now reflected in the country’s stunning towns and buildings. There are plenty of handsome, historical properties that have been transformed into luxurious hotels, including the beautiful “pousadas,” national historical landmarks — castles, convents, forts, monasteries, palaces and even towns — that have been turned into very special places to stay.
Pousada de Palmela, Lisbon
This 17th-century fortress is set dramatically on the top of a hill with breathtaking views over the countryside to the Arrabida Natural Park. The hotel is luxurious and welcoming, but offers a pleasing, authentic austere with lots of period features, huge rooms and corridors as well as a wind that whistles around the building on chillier nights. The restaurant is excellent, serving local wines and delicious specialities.
The country house
Monte do Casal, Algarve
A far cry from the busy resorts of the Algarve coast, this pretty, privately owned hotel is set in a traditional 18th-century country house steps from the beach in the old village of Estoi. The hotel has just 18 rooms, and it’s a haven of peace and quiet set on a hill with panoramic views over an elegant garden with waterfalls and ponds, two heated swimming pools and a separate spa with a special deck for outdoor treatments.
Quinta Nova De Nossa Senhora Do Carmo, Douro Valley
The Quinta Nova claims the prize of being the first hotel in a vineyard in Portugal. This refurbished 18th-century manor house in the middle of a stunning vineyard is the ideal place to experience Portugal’s UNESCO World Heritage Douro Valley and get a feel for the history of this famous wine region. There are tours as well as wine and port tastings, and it’s a fantastic place to unwind with superb home-cooking.
Pousada de Arraiolos, Nossa Senora da Assuncao, Arraiolos
Set in the stunning Alentejo countryside, this former convent dating back to the 16th century has been tastefully transformed into a completelycontemporary hotel. The cloisters have been given a clean and minimalist look, peppered with antiques. The hotel’s charming little chapel is lined with stunning, original blue and white tiles.
Palacio de Estoi, Algarve
This highly unusual pastel-pink palace — dating back to 1909 —has recently been tastefully restored. It delights viewers with its elegantly landscaped gardens and rococo-style building with reception rooms featuring antiques and intricate frescoes where visitors can lounge and dine.
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