Casa do Terreiro do Poco

Borba, Alentejo, Portugal Book from Eur85

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Smartly refurbished historic house with gardens, a pool and incredibly welcoming hosts, close to Borba's castle-crowned centre
The Moors have held Borba, so too the Spanish. In its time it’s been pillaged and torched, but these days it’s known for its wine and its marble, and a sleepy peace now lingers in its sun-baked streets. Wander its mazy streets to find a castle, antique shops, old churches and elaborately carved portals.

This is the place to stay in town. The very pretty totally renovated house, a couple of streets back from the centre, fronts a thin slip of public garden, whitewashed walls now sparkling in the sun. Enter through a vaulted arch in which a candle chandelier hangs from a brick ceiling. Find a stone-vaulted sitting room with wood-burner and honesty bar, a garden pavilion for lazy breakfasts, orange and lemon trees in a nicely wild courtyard, a small saltwater pool with a sun-trapping terrace. You’re brilliantly positioned to dive into the Alentejo, so don’t miss Estremoz, the Serra de Ossa, Roman Evora or hilltop Monsaraz.

Highs

  • The courtyard gardens give a sense of peace and space in the middle of town
  • Charming, welcoming rooms offering flexible accommodation, from cute doubles to family-sized suites
  • The glorious Alentejo, one of Portugal’s prettiest regions, is on your doorstep
  • During our 2015 revisit, owners João and Rita were both very welcoming hosts

Lows

  • You’re in the (small) town, so occasionally may get a bit of noise if at the front of the hotel
  • There's no restaurant, but meals can be ordered in from local restaurants - just ask!
  • The small pool is great, but it’s slightly overlooked
  • Parking is tricky

Best time to go

The feast of the grape is celebrated in the second week of November. If you like your wine, don’t miss it. There's also a cheese fair over Easter, a herb fair in May, and a processional festival on the third Sunday in August - but July and August can be excessively hot.

Our top tips

The towns and villages of the Alentejo are on your doorstep - one of Portugal’s loveliest areas. Potter from town to town, stopping for regular refreshment: brilliant peasant food, wonderful earthy wines, country life at its very best. There’s so little traffic that it takes no time at all to get around. Roman Evora, a world Heritage site, is a must.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 14
  • Breakfast (+ walk to restaurants)
  • All ages 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
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Patio Room

Rooms

Rooms are scattered all over the place: some in the garden, some at the front, others in the main house or in the neighbouring converted winery.Owner João dabbles in antiques and has looted his collection to furnish the rooms.

We stayed in the Palm Tree House which, like the Bamboo House, is near the swimming pool with it's own entrance and a shaded terrace. Simple but cute, they both have tiled-slate floors, carved wood bedheads and a wood-burner.

The small 2-storey suites - known as Nana’s House and Rosária's House - are at the front of the house. You enter from the public garden and step into tiny sitting rooms with well-concealed kitchenettes (microwave, hob, fridge).

The Royal Suite is on the first floor at the front - away from the pool terrace. You’ll find a high beamed ceiling, 2 Juliet balconies that open up for views of the courtyard and rooftops, and carved wooden doors from Java.

We were unable to see the main house rooms, nor those in the old winery (a more recently converted neighbouring building), though they promise to be just as warm and welcoming as their counterparts.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is served either in the garden pavilion overlooking the pool or in the main house under a vaulted stone roof warmed by a wood-burner. Help yourself to freshly-squeezed orange juice, baskets of French bread, authentic custard tarts, plates of fresh hams and cheese, and eggs if you want them.

Light lunches are available from June to September: toasted sandwiches, cold soups, fresh salads, plates of cheese. For dinner, meals can be ordered in from local restaurants, but we’d suggest you wander into town to soak up the wonderful Portuguese atmosphere. Owners João and Rita can provide a whole list of recommendations.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Bicycles are available to borrow - potter around town, take to the hills, drop in on the vineyards, sample the wines
  • Borba is a lively town. It’s known for its chiefly for its wine and antique shops. It is also one of the great marble towns; take the road south and you pass the quarries. Keep going for a couple of kilometres and you come to Vila Viçoca, a must-see. This was the country seat of the Dukes of Bragança, the last ruling family of Portugal. The palace here is the Portuguese equivalent to Versailles
  • Estremoz is a fine example of a provincial country town. It attracts only a little interest from tourists and is all the prettier for it. It’s a garrison town and one of the region’s seven hilltop settlements. Estremoz marble is extremely pretty, thus a stroll about the Rossio, the town’s square, is quite a grand affair. Market day is Saturday
  • Head south from Estremoz to Redondo and you pass over the Serra de Ossa. You crest a eucalyptus forest high in the hills (the scent in the air in October was magnificent), then drop down into vineyards. If you want a picnic in deep country, this is the spot for it (Portugal has no laws of trespass, you are free to follow any path, but do be careful in autumn, the hunting season)
  • Head south from Borba to a string of interesting towns and villages: Alandroal, Terena, Reguengos, then glorious Monsaraz. Beyond you’ll find Alqueva, Europe’s largest, and newest, lake. It’s manmade and provides water for the Alentejo. You can canoe, sail, ski and swim

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children are welcome and will enjoy the swimming pool.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

We'd recommend you opt for the Tower Room which has a double and a twin room and can fit an extra bed or baby cot. All other rooms can fit an extra bed or baby cot.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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