“A cosy and stylish Beiras home-from-home, imbued with the gentle and caring spirit of its owners”
There 4 rooms in the main house, and a handful in 2 adjacent buildings: Uphill House and Casa Mikwéh, which records suggest was once a Jewish bathhouse. Mikwéh has a fully equipped kitchen too, so this house would be a great choice for a larger family or a group of friends. Wood-burners and central heating keep things snug in winter - Beira Alta can get very cold - whilst thick, granite walls ensure the houses are cool in summer.
Ana decorated the rooms in a way that feels both understated and stylish, choosing eye-catching fabrics for cushions, throws and bed bases, which are contrasted by white walls, bedcovers and sections of unrendered granite. All bedrooms come with a TV, DVD player and WiFi.
In Casa da Cisterna, 2 bedrooms lead off from the dining room: Pisco (robin) is a twin with a shower room whilst Rabirruivo (redstart) is a smallish double with a bath rather than shower. Two other rooms look onto the small garden to the rear of the house: Andorinhao (swift) is a double-bedded room with a shower bathroom and private terrace, which is given decorative zest by its collection of hats, whilst Noitibó (nightjar) would be our top choice. This is a mezzanine-style suite with a double bed, larger bathroom with shower/tub, an airy sitting room with a sofabed and a fireplace, plus a stretch of garden for lazing in a hammock.
The nicest room in Casa da Mikwéh is Chapim (great tit), a double with with a tub bathroom and a window overlooking the street. The other rooms, Melro Azul (rock thrush) and Coruja (owl) are smaller doubles with shower rooms. Both rooms are attractively decorated with subtle lighting and fabrics. Coruja's only source of light is from 2 small skylight windows: this room felt too hemmed-in for my liking.
More recently, Uphill House was added to the collection. We haven't seen it yet, but here you'll find a loft-floor suite and 3 Deluxe Rooms, all sleek and modern, and some with mezzanine reading areas.
Ana's immaculately presented cuisine is a celebration of the region's best produce. She's often given a hand by her grandmother who has handed down several of her recipes for cakes, confits and desserts.
At breakfast, guests eat at one table in the main house: it's a great opportunity to make new Portuguese friends (who make up the majority of Cisterna guests). Everything that graced our table looked good and tasted the same. After being given a glass with local honey topped with creamy yoghurt, and another of freshly squeezed orange juice, we helped ourselves to an enticing buffet of oven-fresh bread, homemade cake (a different one every day), cereals, olive oil, local ricotta-style cheeses, smoked ham and homemade jams. The coffee couldn't have been better and there was a huge selection of teas as well as 9 different sugars! It felt spoiling and fun.
Lunches, dinners and picnic lunches are available on request: the veggies come fresh from local producers or are gathered from the countryside; herbs are from Ana's organic garden. In summer, set meals follow a lighter, 'tapas' style formula and might include dips, loose-leaf salads, summer soups or marinated fish with a regional wine matched to each course. Winter meals are heartier creations with a higher meat content, and prepared with the same TLC: everything is homemade. These meals are served at individual tables in the dining room or on the balcony. If you prefer the idea of heading out for supper, Casa da Irene in Malpartida is about 20 minutes away by car: it is known for the excellence of its regional cuisine.
Sometimes, guests staying in Mikwéh self-cater a few meals. The kitchen is well set up for this with an oven, stove, microwave, dishwasher, toaster, kettle and fridge freezer. You can shop for groceries in the village.
The ethic of Casa da Cisterna is resolutely child-friendly and extra beds, cots, highchairs, toys and baby gear are all available. The owners have 2 small children themselves.
The only drawbacks we can see are the drive from the airport (2.5 hours) and the lack of babysitting, which limits your evening activities.
Children (4-12 years)
The suites, Sobreiro and Noitibó, are the biggest rooms, and in our opinion the best for an extra bed; we felt the others were too small to fit one comfortably, although there's space for at least 1 baby cot in any room.
If you are travelling with 2 kids you'd be best to rent 2 bedrooms or, better still, the whole of Casa Mikwéh, which is geared up for self-catering lets.
Andorinhao, Chapim and Noitibó have bathtubs.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Breakfast is a communal meal; lunch, dinner and picnics can be catered on request, with half portions for children. You can self-cater in Casa Mikwéh and wherever you stay, you have access to a microwave and blender. Meal delivery is also available.
There are unprotected drops and steep steps around the property. The nearest shop is 2km away, the nearest hospital is 3 minutes away. There is a mobile phone signal everywhere in the property