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Blog Ideias de Viagem

Portugals best small hotels

Por Nelson Carvalheiro

Portugal’s Best Small Hotels is a curated selection of Portugal’s most authentic, private and intimate properties.

The ones where the owner welcomes you personally, introduces you to the estate and vouches to take personal care of you during your stay. A I mentioned in my We Love Small Hotels article, Portugal’s warm hospitality is recognized world wide, and I want to showcase the Portuguese hotels who do it best. Its not about uber luxury or pretentious service, these properties are as down to earth as possible, where you will gain insider and unprecedented access to the territory, the culture and the food of the region where this property is included.


In shades of white and deep-red, in the heart of Serra de São Mamede, you will find the charming Quinta da Dourada. This estate has belonged to the Malato Correia family for over 200 years, and this generation has transformed it into a desirable tourism project. The rustic style and the warm tones that accompany the entire décor perfectly fit this estate into the landscape, giving it genuine features. This House has plenty of nooks and crannies that invite you to relax and enjoy lazing around. The four houses and two rooms have the comfort you need to leave stress and routine far behind. All houses all have names of Saints which protect the Quinta, except for one which is precisely the House of the Unnamed Saint (“Casa do Santo Sem Nome”).


Part of the emblematic northern region, between Porto and Douro, Solar Egas Moniz welcomes you in a building with 120 years of history.This newly opened manor house has a familiar, intimate ambience and total comfort, where everything has been planned down to the last detail. The nice little messages that you discover inadvertently and its cosy corners are an invitation to peace and lazing around. This charming family-run guest house is inspired by the historic achievements of Egas Moniz, Tutor of D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, who is buried a few short metres from the house, in the Paço de Sousa monastery.


Just a short distance from Borba, Estremoz and Vila Viçosa, in a place called Maria Pia, you will find a seductive retreat: Monte da Fornalha. The estate was reconstructed taking into consideration the original rustic architecture, using local materials and in total harmony with nature. The very inspiring decor, influenced by various styles, makes this place the perfect example of good taste. Its surroundings of olive trees, vineyards and century-old cork trees give it a touch of authenticity. The 7 charming rooms are very spacious and are simply decorated, preserving the rustic architecture of the house. The lounges are another landmark of this unit, displaying perfect harmony through the combination of dark wood tones with the “warm” tones of the Alentejo region.


Its within a typical and traditional features from Algarve that spread the charms of Vila Monte Farm House. The architecture also preserves ancient traditions with its whitewashed chimneys, terraces and stairways offering a peaceful and relaxed enviroment. The 9 hc surroundings are lush gardens of centuries-old olive and carob trees. Including aromatic plants, a vegetable garden, an orange grove, a few water reservoirs and may charming corners. This charming hotel less than 10 minutes from the beach, between the towns of Tavira and Olhão, is in the perfect spot for discovering a different Algarve. Visit the Ria Formosa with its unique habitats, the historical towns and Ilha da Fuzeta beach.


In one of the most distinguished Oporto locations, the Ribeira, 1872 River House is a charming 8 rooms guest house inviting us to discover the best views over Douro. The rooms are filled with Portuguese details and have unique views over the river or the city. The building dates back to 1872 and opened its doors in 2014, after a profound remodelling process in which the house’s original details where kept intact. Let yourself get carried away by the Douro River’s beauty by staying in a room with the river as its background and enjoying a truly unique sunset.


In the middle of the Serra da Estrela’ Natural Park, the biggest mountain range in Continental Portugal, and just 10 minutes away from Seia, we can find the charming “Casas da Lapa”. An historical building that dates back to the XIX century and whose remodelling process had a main concern, the perfect balance with the surroundings and the use of the typical materials in the region, such as granite and wood. It’s, however, the comfort and decoration that stand out. In warmer days, the exterior swimming pool and the terrace create the perfect environment. On colder days, it’s the heat coming from the fireplace that makes the “Casas da Lapa” even cosier, watching the snow falling in an experience that is only usual in Serra da Estrela’s Natural Park.


Just a few meters from the Douro River, in Pinhão village, we find the charming Vintage House Douro. A lovely property that was born from an old cellar and today, after intense refurbishment, offers extremely comfortable and cosy accommodations together with outstanding views. All rooms are facing the Douro River receiving its magnificent lights which allow you to experience a marvellous sunset. Besides the magnificent surroundings, this hotel facing the Douro River has a restaurant, Rabelo, offering fusion cuisine mixing typical flavours with a modern flair. So the suggestion is for you to try the most authentic flavours together with an outstanding Douro wine. And if you are a wine lover, Vintage House Douro has a Wine Academy which offers different wine experiences, such as wine courses, tastes & others.


Just a few kilometres away from Torre da Serra da Estrela and Gouveia, Madre de Água Rural Hotel is the ideal place to discover this unique region, Serra da Estrela. With 10 rooms in the main house, a carefully decorated apartment and a studio, this destination is the ideal proposal for a getaway with your partner, a family holiday, or a few days alone. When you start getting hungry, head to the restaurant, taste the Quinta’s own produce and other local food products, under the signature of Chef, who combines the authenticity of local gastronomy with contemporary presentation.


In plain inner Alentejo, and just 3 kilometres away from Évora we can find a small and charming small hotel called “Casa do Governador”. Located inside a 20 ha property and just 500 meters away from the “Convento de Espinheiro”, the “Casa do Governador” was initially an enfermary and quarentene place for old Convent preasts. Over a century old and with a strong historical legacy, the “Casa do Governador” was, in 2012, the target of a profound remodelling process that originated the 7 welcoming bedrooms. The north wing, of a more traditional decoration and the south wing, brand new with a more contemporary and rustic decoration.


In the heart of the Douro region, in the delightful town of Peso da Régua, you will find the charming Quinta do Vallado, one of the oldest estates in the region, famous for its distinctive production of Douro and Port Wines. It was in 2005 that Quinta do Vallado decided to open doors of its, the result of the refurbishing of an eighteenth century house. Later, in 2012, and in order to enlarge the hotel, the Vallado inaugurated a new eight-room building, currently offering hotel accommodation combining the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries.


Located in the heart of the Alentejo Coast, in the picturesque village of Cercal, Herdade da Matinha invites you to experience real luxury: silence. Herdade da Matinha extends over 110 hectares of cork oak and stone pine forest, where two rustic houses have been restored and are now with doors open in this superb Alentejo retreat. It is in its 20 inspiring rooms, all uniquely decorated, that guests can let themselves go and have a real country experience. And Herdade da Matinha is not lacking in experiences, the lush, green fields are the stage for many of them, where you can enjoy horseback riding, a picnic, or even a Yoga or Pilates class. Gastronomy is one of the pillars of this charm countryside hotel, making your meals a true culinary experience with fresh ingredients from local suppliers. Herdade da Matinha is a pearl in the traditional and genuine Alentejo and an authentic experience of rural Portugal.

Autor Nelson Carvalheiro

Award winning travel blogger who dedicates his work to the soul and sense of place of the locations he has visited, the people he has met and the food he has tasted.