Monday 20 November 2017

10 best Portuguese peaches

Casas do Coro, Marialva, Douro
Casas do Coro, Marialva, Douro

Alastair Sawday

From the Algarve to Lisbon, Alastair Sawday chooses his favourite hideaways in Portugal.

Quinta Bonita, Lagos, Algarve

Chantelle's well-travelled parents bought this villa in 1981 as a grand holiday home. Now, Chantelle and Fraser have turned it into an exceptional retreat.

Terrace breakfasts flaunt pastries, fruit fresh from their own orchards and a great view of the sea; delicious lunches are served (on request) and tea and cakes (complimentary) are delivered to the serene outdoor pool.

Bedrooms -- the most peaceful at the back -- are luxurious, with hugely comfortable beds and Sky TV; contemporary bathrooms sport organic oils and rainwater showers, and there's an indoor/outdoor sitting room on whose wicker sofas you may lounge all day.

If you're feeling energetic, there are bikes to borrow, or you can nip off to Lagos or discover the famous beaches before returning to this heart-warming place.

Details: Doubles from €95-€220. Tel: 00351 282 762 135; boutique hotelalgarve.com.

The River House, São Bartolomeu de Messines, Algarve

For urban escapees, the River House is a dream getaway. There are hills to climb, wide open skies, stars to take your breath away and the occasional otter in the river.

Trees border one side, the land drops away on the other, and the meandering river that gives the house its name becomes a lake when the dam floods -- and dwindles to a stream by the end of summer.

The lovely old terracotta-roofed house has undergone an no-expense-spared renovation. Warm sloping timbers blend with pale walls and floors designed with sheer minimalist chic. Spin off on the bikes, go riding in the hills, stock up at the daily market in Messines then return to wicker loungers and a sweet child-friendly infinity splash pool.

Details: €1,000 per week. Tel: 0044 797 666 0526; great-locations.net.

Casa das Penhas Douradas, Manteigas, Beira

Snake 1,500m up a winding pass to the 'first mountain resort in Portugal'. The surrounding hamlet is 120 years old, but the hotel is new --all clean lines, blonde wood and touches of colour.

Vintage wooden skis hang beside funky 1950s-style lamps.

Chalet-style bedrooms, some with balconies, have stunning views of river valleys, plus spotless, state-of-the-art bathrooms. Dinner is a gourmet affair in the gleaming dining room.

Walk it off with a gentle stroll to a quartz outcrop. You're in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park and its wooded, boulder-strewn hills are never far away.

Return to a library stuffed with books and DVDs, a sitting room with a fireplace to curl up in front of, a delicious spa and a pool with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Details: Doubles from €90-€135. Tel: 00351 963 364 026; casadaspenhasdouradas.pt.

Solar de Alvega, Abrantes, Estremadura

The Marquês de Pombal built this imposing house in the 18th century. Then glamorous Maria Luiza and her English husband bought it in 1998 and restored it to its former grandeur.

Elegant bedrooms have polished parquet floors, tapestry rugs and antique washstands. The tower room has a door to a roofed balcony, another has its original pink and black marble bathroom. Note the annexe apartments are very basic.

There's a games room that's seen better days and, in the walled garden at the back, a patio from which you can gaze down at the stream. From here, a precarious walk brings you to a waterfall that powered the old mill Maria Luiza hopes still to restore.

Details: Doubles from €80- €90. Tel: 00351 241 822 913; solardealvega.com.

The House of the She-Pine-Tree, Sintra, Estremadura

This historic museum-house is an artist's haven, from its balconied terracota façade to the explosion of Portuguese Modernist works within. Bedrooms come with ornate bedsteads, old chests, shutters, balconies and quirky bathrooms and swim with art, colour and eccentricity. Shoot the breeze on a patio shaded by the eponymous pine or cool off in the new pool.

Details: Doubles from €65- €120. Chapel House €55-€100 per night. Tel: 00351 219 624 354; shepinetree.com.

Casas do Côro, Marialva, Douro

Minimalist modern houses are scattered throughout the grounds of this hugely atmospheric medieval village of Marialva. A lavish, theatrical feel prevails: rooms are opulently decorated, with fancy fittings, modern art, silk curtains, printed wallpaper and masses of birch panelling.

The main-house salon, equally impeccable, has a marvellous fireplace, deep sofas and plenty of reading material. The food is modern regional and you dine regally beneath a huge chandelier, gazing out past granite pillars to panoramic views. It's child-friendly, and there is lots to see and do in its history-steeped environs.

Details: Doubles from €125-€175. Tel: 00351 917 552 020; casasdocoro.com.pt.

Vila Afonso, Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, Madeira

High on the island's southern coast, overlooking an entrancing jumble of banana groves, vineyards and the intense blue of the Atlantic, this mellow old stone building goes back to the 17th century.

This is where guests stay -- the owners, the Afonsos, occupy a newer house next door, on the other side of a little pool with a retractable roof. The B&B rooms are traditional with shining wood, pastel walls, lush house plants and a few antiques.

This family farm and vineyard cover just over one acre. In the garden, statues are dotted around vivid lawns criss-crossed with paths and an explosion of exotica: passion fruit, strelitzia, tall bay trees and the floss silk tree on which the Monarch butterfly feeds. A very welcoming place where you can do your own thing.

Details: Doubles from €60- €79. Tel: 00351 291 911 510; vilaafonso.com.

Hotel Martinhal, Sagres, Algarve

Home to some of the finest views in the Algarve, the Martinhal is sleek on the outside, full of warmth within. Each room has a wall of glass facing the sea, gliding open to lawn, balcony or decked terrace.

Furniture is retro Deco, materials are southern Portuguese (granite, wicker, sheepskin) and lovely muted colours echo the views. The beds are lavish, bathroom products made from Irish seaweed and the lighting is magical.

In the restaurant, eager staff serve scrumptious breakfasts, regional dinners with a modern twist and fish straight from the ocean.

At one of the five pools, you can retire to cool loungers and funky beanbags. If you have children, choose the resort further back from the shore, with its smart geometric houses and traditional villas, 'village square', kids' club and crèche.

Details: Doubles from €139-€291. Villas and houses €139-€500. Tel: 00351 282 240 200; martinhal.com.

Casa do Papagaio Verde, Funchal, Madeira

Fresh flowers on the table, a glass of Madeira from housekeeper Vera, beaming warmth and generosity from start to finish.

Filomena's architect-designed home is friendly, open plan and dotted with interesting arty pieces.

Ground-floor rooms are large with wooden floors, big beds and fabrics sourced on the owner's Lisbon ventures, while a chrome staircase leads to a romantic suite, a honeymooners' paradise.

Our favourite studios, Piscina and Oliveira, have their own turfed outdoor patch and stunning views of the garden sweeping down to the sea.

Gaze oceanward as you breakfast on fresh rolls, exotic homemade jams (physalis, pitanga), fruit salads and pancakes.

Speciality Madeiran dishes -- picadinho stew, Alentejo chicken -- topped off by fabulous desserts, fill the dinner menu.

Chill under poolside palm trees or lose yourself in novels on super comfy armchairs. Playful dogs, the odd cat or goat roam too.

Funchal city is close with its kaleidoscope-colourful morning markets. Dine out at the fantastic fish restaurant with a rooftop bar a short walk away.

Details: Doubles from €60-€93. Apartments €60-€93 per night.

See casadopapagaio.com.

Hotel Martinhal, Sagres, Algarve

Home to some of the finest views in the Algarve, the Martinhal is sleek on the outside, full of warmth within. Each room has a wall of glass facing the sea, gliding open to lawn, balcony or decked terrace.

Furniture is retro Deco, materials are southern Portuguese (granite, wicker, sheepskin) and lovely muted colours echo the views. The beds are lavish, bathroom products made from Irish seaweed and the lighting is magical.

In the restaurant, eager staff serve scrumptious breakfasts, regional dinners with a modern twist and fish straight from the ocean.

At one of the five pools, you can retire to cool loungers and funky beanbags. If you have children, choose the resort further back from the shore, with its smart geometric houses and traditional villas, 'village square', kids' club and crèche.

Details: Doubles from €139-€291. Villas and houses €139-€500. Tel: 00351 282 240 200; martinhal.com.

As Janelas Verdes, Lisbon, Estremadura

In the old city of Lisbon, just yards from the Museum of Ancient Art, sits an aristocratic townhouse. From the moment you're greeted by smiling Palmira, you feel welcome.

A grand old spiral staircase takes you up to comfortable bedrooms kitted out with pale carpets and pastel colours. Some rooms have impressive views of the river Tejo -- book early if you want one.

Summer breakfasts -- and candlelit aperitifs -- are enjoyed on a cobbled patio where a fountain gurgles and bougainvillea runs riot.

There's a cosy library on the top floor with an honesty bar and a lovely convivial feel.

Details: Doubles from €157. Tel: 00351 213 218 200; heritage.pt.

BOOK OFFER

Irish Independent’ readers can buy a copy of Alastair Sawday’s new Portugal guide for €12.60 including postage, a saving of 40pc on the normal price. Visit sawdays.co.uk and use the code IRISHPORTUGAL when prompted. Offer ends July 31, 2011

Weekend Magazine

Promoted Links

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in Life