Casas da Lapa Nature & Spa

Serra da Estrela, Central Portugal & Beiras, Portugal
Book from GBP Book from £125 per night

Casas da Lapa Nature & Spa

Serra da Estrela, Central Portugal & Beiras, Portugal

Stylish country hotel amidst Portugal's highest mountains, offering warm hospitality, great food and stunning hiking

Stylish country hotel amidst Portugal's highest mountains, offering warm hospitality, great food and stunning hiking

You could be forgiven for wondering where the Serra da Estrela is - it's not explored by many tourists, not even the Portuguese. But this vast National Park's rugged beauty - 2,000-metre limestone peaks, mossy waterfalls, granite caves, crystalline river pools - make it amply worth the detour inland. It's in Portugal's central highlands, 300km north of Lisbon, 175km south of Oporto, and the rivers Mondego, Zezere and Alva all have their source here. So now you know.

Constructed from old shepherd's cottages in 3 lawned tiers on the side of a terraced hill overlooking a swimming pool and courtyard, the hotel is perched above the village of Lapa dos Dinheiros ('Treasure Cave'), with fabulous views across the valleys and peaks. Inside you'll find stylish and bright bedrooms - some with jacuzzi tubs, walls of rough stone and smooth whitewash, neutral modern colours. And after a day of trekking, cycling, village touring or river swimming, the sauna and steam bath will leave you in the pink. For those seeking contemporary comfort and delicious food in an unspoilt mountain retreat, this is a perfect find.


  • Stylish modern interiors - unusual in such a rustic and remote location
  • Cosy living rooms (firelit in winter, beautifully cool in summer) showcase local sculptures and paintings
  • The sleek dining room and sunny poolside terrace offer the best in regional and home-grown cuisine
  • 100,000 hectares of National Park on your doorstep
  • A great place to escape with a loved one, with friends, or with the family: several suites sleep 4, or check out their separate village houses


  • Access is tricky: from the A1 at Coimbra it's all country roads, which get narrower as you go up, especially when you reach the village
  • We found it slightly rabbit-warreny in its layout - necessitated by its village setting on terraced hillsides
  • It can be cold and misty up here at 750m altitude (though rarely in midsummer)

Best time to go

If you're planning to walk, spring or autumn is the best time of year to be here. But the village's soaring elevation ensures it remains cool enough for hiking to be enjoyable in summer, too. And don't forget that you're just a 30-minute drive from Portugal's most popular ski resort: most years you can expect heavy snowfalls in both February and March.

Our top tips

Don't forget to pack all your walking gear: boots, waterproofs, a daypack and water bottle, suncream and a hat. I only had time to accompany the owners on a short hike out from Lapa to a cave and waterfall, but it left me in awe at the beauty of the Beiras National Park.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 15 rooms
  • Restaurant open daily
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Laundry Service
Room: Suite 6


The 8 suites and 7 double bedrooms are arranged on 3 levels beside and above the swimming pool. Most of these have kingsize or twin beds and contemporary furnishings: cube armchairs, sleek cylindrical lamps, laminated bedwalls and eyecatching sculptures set into a series of small niches. All have great views to the mountains thanks to the big glass panels of their exterior doors.

The lowest two doubles are more traditional and have queensize beds with antique headboards. Up above these is a larger double bedroom, where there's plenty of space to slot in 2 additional single beds. These 3 rooms have the added advantage of interior access to a guest sitting room (in addition to that of the main house) with a televison and DVD: iPod docks are an added bonus.

Bathrooms are decorated in muted monochromes; stylish freestanding ceramic sinks are set on a generous sweep of black marble surface. You'll find a hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers, and a trayful of natural bath products sourced in Sicily; the jacuzzi tubs are perfect for a post-trek soak.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar
  • Safe box
  • WiFi


Breakfast is served in a fab sleek dining room overlooking the lower swimming pool terrace. You're welcome to come down any time up to 1pm, in which case it could easily become brunch. Accompanied by the sounds of classical piano music, my buffet feast included a selection of cereals, excellent bread, a fruit salad, home-baked cakes, local honey, freshly-squeezed orange juice, ham, an excellent selection of tasty Beiras cheeses and natural yoghurt.

Light meals are available during the day, either inside or outside by the pool: expect fish salads, pizza, hamburgers, vegetable omelettes and pies.

Dinner is a 5-course event showcasing the seasonal products and typical flavours of the Serra da Estrela region.

If you want to eat out you will need to drive to Seia, 7km away, where most restaurants are of the rustic-regional sort: lots of lamb and smoked pork sausages as well as local sheep's cheese.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Kids' meals
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian options


  • The Beiras National Park has a unique landscape of dramatic glacial valleys (geologists will be in their element), powerful waterfalls, primitive forest of black oaks and chestnut trees, and granite outcrops

  • Ask staff about hikes - guided or unguided - through pine and deciduous woods to waterfalls, caves and summits; particularly lovely in spring and autumn.

  • Mountain biking can also be arranged; the hotel has some bikes you can borrow (book in advance)

  • The caves of Moura and Suma are worth visiting; you can try your hand at abseiling, or (in winter) go skiing at Portugal's only resort

  • In summer, swim at one of the 8 fluvial beaches near the village: we loved the wonderfully invigorating pure mountain water

  • Discover the stunning villages of Liñhares and Piódão, and the crumbling castles which dot the landscape

  • Seia (7km) has a Park Visitor Centre, a Toy Museum and a Bread Museum, Gouveia a zoo, Belmonte a museum recalling the rich Jewish heritage and the local woollen industry

  • Relax around Lapa's 11x4m swimming pool, or check out the steam room, gym, and sauna. You can book a massage too

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Swimming
  • Trekking


Children are greeted with open arms at Casas da Lapa. Owners Nuno and Maria Manuel have a family of their own and have a genuinely caring attitude towards younger visitors. It is a long drive from the airport, but once you get here there is plenty to do for all the family and you won't have to bring much with you.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The 2 Superior Rooms and Suites 1, 2, 3 and 6 are suitable for 2 adults and 1-2 children. Cots are free but extra beds carry a charge.

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms


Babysitting available, arrange in advance.

Baby equipment:

  • Highchair
  • Pram or pushchair to borrow
  • Baby bedding
  • Baby bath

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

Children's meals:

Food is available on request, with special mealtimes for kids and half portions of adult mains on offer for dinner There is a small kitchenette with microwave and blender and baby bottles can be warmed.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Kids DVDs
  • Swimming pool

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Historical towns to visit
  • River swimming
  • Skiing and snowboarding in the winter
  • Cycling
  • Maria Manuel can recommend child-friendly walks
  • Toy museum in Seia
  • Zoo in Gouveia

Families Should Know:

The closest shop for nappies etc is a 10-minute drive away in Seia. Watch out for steep stone stairs and an unfenced pool.


  • Airport: 2 hours
  • Hospital: 15 minutes
Kid Friendly:


Casas da Lapa is in the small village of Lapa dos Dinheiros, on the slopes of the Serra da Estrela mountain range. The nearest big town, Seia, is 7km away.

By Air
Fly to Porto (or Oporto, 175km, 2+ hours' drive) or Lisbon (300km, 4 hours' drive); the latter is further, but has more flights. Both driving routes are very scenic; you don't want to rush, or drive at night. It is also possible to fly into Madrid in Spain, and drive via Salamanca (perhaps overnighting there).

From the Airport
You'll need to hire a car as the village is remote, with no public transport links.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.


  • Oporto 175.0 km OPO
  • Lisbon Portela 150.0 km LIS


  • Beach 150.0 km
  • Shops 7.0 km
  • Restaurant 7.0 km

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