LUXURY HOTEL São Lourenço do Barrocal in Monsaraz, Alentejo
Rural romance for the cultivated traveller
Set in the alluring landscape of the Alentejo, amid blooming wildflower meadows, pristine lakes, picturesque vineyards, ancient trees, magical monoliths and extraordinary bird habitats, São Lourenço do Barrocal offers a different type of luxury. Ana Faustino, the witty, charming hotel manager describes the concept as “a 5 star hotel, but without the bling. We wanted to create an environment where our guests can truly align with nature and feel the authentic heritage of the place.“
Even if you’re not familiar with the story of São Lourenço do Barrocal, you will recognize the rich history of this place right away. Upon arrival, while walking the extensive yards and fields, you will realise that São Lourenço do Barrocal is not only a hotel, but an entire village. The first thing we want after our arrival is a refreshing dip in the pool. We intend to pop to our room and quickly change our clothes. But this place is not for the fast-paced at all and even the cobblestoned courtyard reminds us to slow down. Then there’s our room, so gorgeous that we never want to leave. We are lodging in a courtyard room with its own small terrace, stunning views and an irresistible bed upholstered in the finest white cotton sheets. Oh, but we meant to go for a swim. So we set out, barefoot, in our bathing suits. But where is the pool? It takes a while for us to find it. And on the way we see cows, come upon huge stone formations, and pass by a stable. The journey is the reward. Our 3-year-old son is thrilled; he discovers salamanders and bees, and every few metres climbs a giant stone, or a tree. And so, our stay in São Lourenço do Barrocal turns out to be an unforgettable experience. We are awakened by birdsong, explore the area on foot and by bike all day long, spend hours in the newly-planted orchard, and in the evening, enjoy the exquisite cuisine and excellent wine.
São Lourenço do Barrocal was once an ancient farming village, which has been painstakingly refurbished as a luxury hotel, under the guidance of owner José António Uva, prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, and Lisbon-based interior designers Ana Anahory and Felipa Almeida. The hotel sits upon a 780-hectare estate, and has been in Uva’s family for 200 years.“It took 14 years to renovate the place”, says José António, who grew up in Lisbon. He worked for several years in London’s financial centre, before he ended up residing alone on the family estate in a small hut (which is nowadays the pool house). For two years José António observed the seasons and planned the immense project. „I was always fascinated to hear stories about what life there used to be like, so I started to think about how we could evolve our family estate for this century and develop it for modern country living“ he says.
What is truly unique is the first-rate renovation of the old buildings by José António Uva and his team. For example, the house where the restaurant is now located was formerly a dog kennel. And the winery was once the village crafts workshops and schoolroom. “I realised what an incredible project it could be to bring new life to the estate by taking this existing structure and making it modern and relevant for today”, says José António. Around the estate, you’ll find a total of 40 rooms and cottages, furnished in understated luxury with a mixture of modern contemporary design and unique vintage Portuguese pieces, whitewashed walls and high-quality bedding. Staying at São Lourenço do Barrocal is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
WORDS: Kerstin Bognár
PHOTOS: Nelson Garrido
Good to know
São Lourenço do Barrocal is open all year round. It takes more than one night’s stay, however, to experience the individuality and diversity of this place. Once you’ve arrived, you will be treated to luxury in all shapes and sizes. There is a world-class spa by Susanne Kaufmann, the renowned Austrian brand of organic self-care products, and a farm shop selling Portuguese contemporary crafts.
Location & Booking Details
Fly into Lisbon, then a two-hour drive down to São Lourenço do Barrocal near the charming Moorish hilltop village of Monsaraz and close to Lake Alqueva and the Spanish border. The hotel has 22 guest rooms, 2 suites and 16 cottages. Prices run from about 200 Euros/night in low season. Breakfast included. For more information and bookings please contact us directly:
Anyone who wants a change of pace, to breathe the spirit of freedom and to travel back in time. It´s truly a place to enjoy stillness. For down-to-earth people who yearn for the wide open, desire five star pampering, and enjoy excellent farm to table food and wine experiences. Enough space to accommodate large families and honeymooners simultaneously.