You can have an unforgettable vacation at Casas da Areia, a beautiful retreat on the margins of the Sado river, one hour south of Lisbon. Here, you can rent one of four fisherman huts built from local materials. They have striking African-inspired thatched roofs and impeccable minimalist design.
There are many pristine beaches close by. But, once you settle at Casas da Areia, you’ll probably just want to enjoy the magnificent vistas and bike around the gorgeous Sado estuary. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself talking to Christian Louboutin about the serenity of this place; he has a house nearby.
After staying at Casas de Areia, it’s hard to stop asking your friends “did I tell you about my unforgettable vacation in Portugal?”
You can find more information about Casas na Areia here.
It took two architects to create this incredible hotel on the margins of the Douro river. The first, the Italian Nicolau Nasoni, designed the Freixo Palace in the 18th century for the family of a rich cleric, Jerónimo de Távora. The second, the Portuguese Fernando de Távora, a relative of the original owner, transformed it into a luxury hotel.
Built in 1750, Freixo became the most elegant palace in Oporto. It was here that king Luis I stayed when he visited the city in 1872. But the century that followed the royal visit was one of decline and decay. A soap factory was built on the grounds. Later, this factory was converted into a distillery. Later still, the palace became the headquarters of the Harmonia flour factory. A flour mill was built on the palace gardens and many of the palace rooms were used for storage. When the city of Oporto bought the palace in 1986, it was little more than a romantic ruin.
In 1995 the restoration project led by Fernando Távora and his son brought the palace to its original glory. The elegant rooms were restored to create a spacious dining area and beautiful meeting spaces. The old flour mill was reconfigured to accommodate comfortable guest rooms that have stunning views of the Douro river. Freixo is, once again, the most elegant palace in Oporto.
Palacio do Freixo, Estrada Nacional 108, Porto, tel. 225-311-000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for the hotel’s website.
To stay in this 15th century palace in Alfama, the ancient neighborhood around St. Jorge’s Castle, you first have to find it. Despite its bright red doors, this small luxury hotel is so discrete that no one knows where it is.
The palace, one of the few to survive the 1755 earthquake, incorporates castle walls that go back to Roman and Moorish times. It was at one point the residence of Pedro Álvares Cabral, the navigator who discovered Brazil. Five centuries later, the German director Wim Wenders used it in his movie The Lisbon Story. Sostiene Pereira, a movie with Marcello Mastroianni, was also shot here.
In 1994 the French entrepreneur Frédérique Coustols saw the palace in disrepair during a stroll in Alfama. He bought it and restored it with impeccable sensitivity and taste.
When you stay at Palácio Belmonte, you feel like royalty. Siting in the terrace in the late afternoon, drinking chilled white port and enjoying the stunning views of Lisbon, you quickly realize that it is good to be king.
Palácio Belmonte, Páteo Dom Fradique, 14, Lisboa, Tel: 21 881 66 00, e-mail: email@example.com. Click here for the palace’s website.
Arraiolos is a picturesque Alentejo village with traditional whitewashed houses and an oval-shaped castle built in 1305.
The town is famous for the production of beautiful needlework rugs. It is also known for the story of an indecisive bride. With her wedding about to start, she could not decide what to wear. She kept hesitating while the guests waited … for two weeks! In the end, she chose to wear only a shepherd’s mantle.
It was well worth the wait to see this Arraiolos bride discover that “less is more” centuries before Mies van der Rohe.
You ring the bell as if you were visiting a friend’s house. The large weathered wood door opens to reveal a magical place overlooking the sea. Everything feels right: the driftwood benches, the pebble walls, the bare swimming pool, the wood fire burning outside.
You can walk to the beach through sandy dunes and fragrant pine trees to see blue waves crashing on white sand. Or you can drink a glass of wine while the sun and the moon exchange duties.
The restaurant staff make you feel at home while you choose from a small menu that changes daily. The food is wonderfully simple, prepared with great local ingredients: fresh fish, tender vegetables, succulent meat, briny seafood.
We hear that people in heaven like to return to this world to stay for a few days in this boutique hotel near Praia de Santa Cruz. We have not been able to confirm this rumor. But one thing we know: Areias do Seixo is a little piece of heaven on earth.
Praceta do Atlântico, Póvoa de Penafirme, 2560-046 A-dos-Cunhados, tel. 261 936 340, email firstname.lastname@example.org, click here for website.
Portugal has many ancient manor houses and palaces built by noble families and wealthy landowners. These houses are expensive to maintain, so in the 20th century many fell into disrepair. The government created a program called “Turismo de Habitação” (home tourism) that subsidized their restoration. In return, the owners agreed to turn them into “bed and breakfasts.”
You can tour the country staying, at very affordable prices, in aristocratic homes, with expansive vistas and warm hospitality.
These proud houses are silent witnesses to centuries of history. When you visit them, you touch the soul of Portugal.
In the 1940s, the Portuguese government started converting many castles, palaces and monasteries into historical hotels called pousadas. There are now more than forty of these wonderful establishments. They are places where you can sleep and eat like royalty without having to wear funny-looking hairdos or worry about court intrigue.