“An ancient millhouse with a contemporary slant offering B&B rooms and a self-catering Loft, beside the crystalline waters of the Vez River”
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.
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.
Children over 7 are welcome. By arrangement, children under the age of 7 can stay in Luis Loft; please enquire when booking
Children (4-12 years)
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.