Casa do Rio Vez

Arcos de Valdevez, Porto, Douro & Minho, Portugal Book from Eur73

An ancient millhouse with a contemporary slant offering B&B rooms and a self-catering Loft, beside the crystalline waters of the Vez River
My book of hotel idylls would include a chapter dedicated to riverside retreats: give me a leafy river bank and I'm a happy man. And this ancient millhouse with its pristine slice of the River Vez, where trout and otters stir amongst the eddies and herons stand motionless amidst mottled shadows on its grassy banks, would merit a very special mention.

If guests at Rio Vez - you'd recognise some of their names - come to this hidden corner of the Minho to share its bucolic perfection, they're also treated to beauty in great measure within its walls of dressed granite. A double-height dining room, big window openings and iconic furnishings add urbane sophistication to this pastoral peacefulness: RV's owner Anibal is an architect by trade and he's got the Midas touch, for sure.

Expect to find every creature comfort in your big, river-facing room (there are 4, plus a self-catering Loft); to wake to birdsong rather than passing traffic, and to experience those Proustian moments when the elusive Temps Perdu seems tantalisingly close at hand.

Highs

  • An exquisite sense of escaping to a hidden, secret world
  • The waters of the River Vez run crystal clear, and the trout fishing here is some of the best in the country (bring your own rod)
  • Anibal and Valerie are very good hosts and natural communicators, yet never impose on their guests
  • This is a place where much of the pleasure lies in doing very little: just being here is enough
  • Hikers will be in their element: you're on the doorstep of the pristine beauty of the Peneda-Gerês National Park and the little known Soajo mountains

Lows

  • Only breakfast is served so unless you're staying in the Loft, you'll have to drive out for lunch and dinner, though there is 1 simple restaurant within walking distance (2.5km)
  • The 4 millhouse bedrooms aren't enormous, but with that stunning living and dining room down below, your style won't be cramped

Best time to go

Northern Portugal is a bit cooler and wetter than Mediterranean Portugal, but still generally warm in summer and mild in winter. Occasional summer rains may last a few days, while the beaches can be windy and a few degrees cooler than inland. Most guests come during May-September.

Our top tips

To get the most out of a stay at Rio Vez, don't think "What shall we do today?". Instead think "Let's do very little". All you'd need to have a fabulously restorative week would be some good books and your loved one.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4 rooms, 1 self-catering loft
  • Breakfast only rooms; self-catering Loft
  • Over 7s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

When conceptualising the makeover of the millhouse, Valerie and Anibal wanted sleeping arrangements to be flexible according to different guests' needs. Hence, 4 B&B rooms and a self-catering Loft.

The 4 rooms are on the first floor and named after Anibal's family. Their neutral colour schemes mirror that of the sitting room: white and grey lacquered bedside tables and cabinets, along with black or white bedspreads, which are pepped up by cushions and rugs in rich tones of burgundy. Pine floors together with all-white walls and ceilings punctuated by chalky blue window and door frames, give all bedrooms a fresh, light and cared-for vibe. Bathrooms all have piles of soft towels and lovely Damana toiletries (Juniper conditioning shampoo and orange blossom body lotion plus soap).

Our first choice would be Gilberto, which has views of both river and garden, a super-kingsize bed that can be unzipped to make twins, and an airy bathroom with tub and twin surface-top sinks. João is slightly smaller with windows onto the river to one side, the pool to the other. This room has the same superkingsize zip-linked bed, but its shower bathroom is of slightly reduced proportions with just one sink. Sara and Maria have less surface area: these rooms have kingsize beds and smallish shower bathrooms. Both have river views though I'd opt for Sara, which has 2 windows and a bed looking straight out to the Vez; Maria has just one smallish window with the bed placed parallel to the window.

If you're of independent mind, or a family group, you'll probably prefer Loft Luis. This stunning loft conversion has its own entrance and is set up for self-catering lets. A white A-frame ceiling is high enough to slot in a mezzanine deck with a big double bed, whilst pine floors, river and courtyard-facing windows with chalky blue frames, boxy sofas (1 is a double sofabed) and a black leather table have been stylishly combined with bright rugs and muted lighting. It's easy to see why the Loft has featured in several interior design mags: there's even a funky 50s-style armchair that had a guest role in Almodovar's film Todo Sobre Mi Madre. There's masses of closet space and all the necessary gadgetry: flat-screen TV, DVD player, and both central heating and air con.

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Internet access
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Mosquito net
  • Oven
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Breakfast is the only meal served, available 9-10.30am. In the case of Loft Luis, it's delivered to your door in a woven basket, whilst guests staying in the main house eat together at one large table in the fabulous high-ceilinged living-cum-dining room. A buffet is laid up atop one of the retro dressers. This includes oven-fresh bread and croissants, cereals and yoghurts, cold cuts and cheeses. There's a choice of homemade jams and honey, several different types of fruit, perhaps some sort of compote and freshly squeezed orange juice. Expect the finest arabica coffee and a choice of several different teas. Let your hosts know if you'd like eggs, too, which can be prepared any way you fancy.

If you're staying in Loft Luis, you'll find the kitchenette pleasingly kitted out for self-catering. There's a good range of equipment (oven, hob, microwave, sharp knives), plus lots of crockery and a table and chairs for 4 people. You can shop for groceries in Arcos de Valdevez (2.5km).

For eating out, there's a simple restaurant close by in Arcos de Valdevez (walking distance, 2.5km), though we'd recommend driving a wee bit further to the pretty town of Ponte da Barca, on the north bank of the Lima river. If you enjoy octopus there's no better place to eat than O Moinho, right at the river's edge; the beef here is excellent, too. For a less formal eating experience, alfresco in a lovely leafy square when the weather's right, check out Os Poetas, where the daily specials - a mixture of local and international dishes - are chalked up on a board. This is also a great spot for a mid-morning coffee or for an aperitif before dinner.

If you're happy to drive a little further there's a massive choice of eateries: we were bowled over by the quality of the food in northern Portugal. In Ponte de Lima Açude, Carvalheira and O Celeiro offer excellent regional cooking or if you're visiting Viana do Castelo don't miss the wonderful Tasca da Linda, down by the fishing port. You'd be hard pressed to find better fish and the bill won't break the bank.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Hob stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity: River Vez

Activities

  • Laze in a deckchair on the banks of the Vez: as guests you have a whole 300m of river frontage all to yourselves

  • Swim in the pool or take a dip in the river, where several natural jacuzzis have been hollowed out of the riverbed

  • The trout fishing is superb (bring your own rod), so if you're staying in the Loft, that's dinner sorted

  • If you're feeling energetic, hire a kayak and paddle along the river

  • Or explore the recently created ecovia cycle and walking path, which runs between Ponte da Barca and Ponte de Lima

  • Head for the beach: some of the loveliest stretches of sand in Portugal are to be found just north of Viana

  • Explore the little-known Sierra do Soajo or head further afield to the Penada-Gerês National Park to see wild horses and to hike stunning mountain trails

  • Head off to Santiago de Compostela for the day and perhaps fit in a visit to Vigo on your way home: seeing sunset over the ría is a sight never to be forgotten

  • Take a trip to Porto for the day: the rooftop bus tour is a great way of getting a handle on the layout of the city and be sure, but sure, to set time aside to visit Rem Kolhass' remarkable Casa da Música

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Swimming

Kids

Children over 7 are welcome. By arrangement, children under the age of 7 can stay in Luis Loft; please enquire when booking

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Luis Loft is a popular choice with families, as it allows the flexibility to self cater, plus is a self-enclosed space. In the millhouse, an extra bed can be provided in João and Gilberto.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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