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Luxury Hotels in The Alentejo: Rural Luxe, Open Vistas

Among the many things that make the Alentejo a treasure is being able to delight in the melding of a rural, pastoral vibe with sophistication, whether it’s luxe properties; farm-to-table degustation menus’ and fine wines, including those that are produced by vintners embracing biodynamic principles. Here are a few of my favorite luxe accommodations. 

Herdade da Malhadinha Nova Hotel, Albernoa

Almost twenty percent of the expansive landscape that’s home to five multi-guest room accommodations — the sixth is three miles away — is planted with grapevines. Each bears a distinctive decor. One of the more traditional is Casa do Ancoradouro (the Mooring House) located at the highest elevation of the estate. With its terra cotta tones and materials, the seven suites in this casa are clearly inspired by the Alentejo. Of course, the common area is complete with, what else, but a wine bar. Unlike the other accommodations, Casa das Pedras (House of the Rocks) does not offer a common area. But the four suites, which each have a private terrace and plunge pool, are the most contemporary of the lot. The furnishings and other decorative items are iconic in the design arena, such as a coat rack designed by Alvar Aalto and a Flos Captain Flint lamp. The spa offers a global experience with treatments that you might find in far flung parts of the world, including a Polynesian-inspired holistic treatment, a massage that relies on the extract of a tree that grows in French Guyana, and a Thai-based massage technique that uses a bamboo roller. 

São Lourenço do Barrocal, Monsaraz

On a vast, almost 2,000-acre property that’s been in the same family for 200 years, this is a 19th century farming estate turned contemporary hotel. Some of the 40 one and three-bedroom cottages and guest rooms are set on the cobbled lane of the original farm village. And, yet, there’s a seamless melding of traditional and rustic design elements with the modern, including terra cotta brick floors, vaulted ceilings, locally crafted wooden furnishings, and art that takes its inspiration from the estate’s history. Walls are hung with black and white photos that display life pre-hotel, including cowsheds, stables and 200-year-old worker’s dwellings. Each guest room is furnished with bespoke pieces. Accessed via a vaulted corridor, the Susanne Kaufmann spa provides myriad rejuvenative treatments. Sign up for a hydrotherapy treatment and you’ll be treated to a cedarwood bathtub where you’ll have the very best views of Monsaraz, a must-visit hilltop enclave surrounded by thick walls. But a cornucopia of other activities await, including a 66-foot swimming pool set in an unspoiled meadow. You can sign up for birding treks where you may spot any of seven-some dozen bird species, or a guided hike to discover local aromatic and medicinal plants. Take a bicycle and pedal through the ancient land dotted with Neolithic dolmens. They can prepare a scrumptious picnic in a wicker basket that you can enjoy in a courtyard or on your terrace. Among the scrumptious offerings you might find: a cup of gazpacho, vegetable turnovers, tomato and goat cheese salad, and crisp white wine.

Other Luxury Escapes Include:

Quinta Da Comporta - Wellness Boutique Resort is just 1 mile from the sandy Comporta Beach. This 5-star hotel is surrounded by Atlantic gardens, where guests can enjoy access to a Champagne breakfast buffet and an outdoor infinity pool. Yoga, meditation and Pilates classes are offered too.

Lago Montargil & Villas is on the Montargil Lake, is a 5-star hotel with private balconies,  a marina, an equestrian center and a huge spa. Far from the outside world, there are 2 restaurants and 3 bars, plus 3 outdoor pools with terraces.

M'AR De AR Aqueduto in a 16th-century palace with a lovely chapel and domed ceilings. Overlooking the aqueduct of Évora, it has a fine restaurant called Degust’ AR, and an extensive spa.

Torre de Palma Wine Hotel - Design Hotels - highlights white-washed Alentejo architecture in a refurbished 14th-century manor house. This luxurious hotel is set in wine country near the town of Monforte

Convento do Espinheiro, Historic Hotel & Spa is a 5-star hotel outside of Évora and set in a renovated 15th-century convent. Known for its spa, wine cellar and setting, this is one of the finest hotels in the region.

*Michele James is a Connecticut-based journalist and photographer who frequently travels to Portugal.

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