Casas do Coro

Meda, Mountain Beiras, Portugal Book from Book from £122 per night

A collection of cottages for 2-11, in an ancient hilltop village close to the Spanish border; self-cater or enjoy creative cuisine
Marialva is one of those places where, on arrival, your first reaction will be an open-jawed 'Wow!'. The crenellations of its lofty fortress, narrow cobbled streets and cluster of granite-built houses feel strangely out-of-time, harking back to an age when this was the frontline of battle between Spain and a newly born kingdom of Portugal. Nowadays the spirit of the place is far less aggressive: with a population of just 30 souls and another 40 or so when Casas do Coro is at full tilt, the village is dreamily peaceful and conducive to quiet contemplation of the soaring vistas out across the surrounding plain.

Casas do Coro is a collection of granite houses and eco cabins, with a shared pool, garden and restaurant. A couple are cosy hideaways for 2, but most are bigger and split into self-contained rooms with kitchenettes, or have a shared kitchen for a group rental. But we'd forget self-catering - what makes a stay here doubly special is the inspired cuisine: dine here on a balmy summer night and the memory will stay with you for years to come.

Highs

  • Marialva is a listed National Heritage site, and the castle ruins are incredible
  • Romantic and indulgent; candelit dinners, breakfast served whenever you want and a double daybed area above the pool (stargaze here at night)
  • Delightful owners and very kind and attentive staff; nothing is too much trouble
  • Great food (home cooking with gourmet flourishes) and an imaginative breakfast spread, or you can self cater
  • Suits both couples and larger groups/families

Lows

  • No restaurants or shops in the village; stock up on groceries and eat lunches in Meda (7km)
  • Not all accommodation has self-catering facilities and the restaurant is closed for lunch and doesn't open until 8pm
  • Not ideal for toddlers - an unheated pool, lots of unprotected drops and no kids' meals
  • Some rooms are flouncy, others a bit tired, but there's such a range of styles that you'll find something you love
  • Marialva? You may not have heard of it but this is a fascinating region and just 2.5 hours from Porto

Best time to go

All year round. The Douro has a micro-climate, which massively boosts the quality and style of its wines, and on average, temperatures are higher than in Porto, and rainfall is less. Spring and autumn are the most popular times to go - April-June and September-October.

Our top tips

Be sure to visit the amazing Côa Valley Archaeological Museum and Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1998. The valley is home to some of the world's most extensive open-air Palaeolithic rock art, and the museum, a stunning piece of contemporary architecture in its own right, helps breathe life into these ancient stones with its state-of-the-art video and computerised installations. It provides a thrilling museum experience for kids and adults alike.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • Rural Resort
  • 13 houses (with rooms + suites)
  • Breakfast incl; some self catering; restaurant for dinners
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Casa do Refúgio das Fragas

Rooms

Casas do Coro grew organically, as owners Carmen and Paolo slowly restored several village houses. This gradual evolution is mirrored in the varying decorative styles.

In some houses, rooms are let on an individual basis and have a kitchenette; they share a large sitting room. In others, rooms share a common kitchen and living room: these would be the obvious choice for groups of family or friends. Casa do Coro is the only house without any kitchen facilities (although if you rent one suite in a house otherwise occupied by a group, you may not get a kitchen; ask if this is important to you). See Rates for detailed descriptions.

The interiors reflect Carmen's love of antiques and country-style. There are antique bedside table and dressers, retro bedside lamps, stunning chandeliers, chaise-longues, ottomans and ornate headboards. Vast, ridiculously comfy beds are dressed with hand-embroidered sheets and quilted throws, there are masses of framed prints.

We adored the newer pod-like units - Casa Palhal da Torre do Monte and Casa da Torre do Relógio - which have more contemporary interiors. Their glass frontages bring in the views, and they have oodles of honeymoon appeal (they also have little bunk rooms if you're bringing the kids). Hidden across the valley is an eco suite, dos Bogalhais, a gorgeous secluded cabin that's perfect for romance.

Some bedrooms have fireplaces and each of the houses, apart from Casa do Relogio, has a wood-burning stove: it can get very cold up here in winter. Bathrooms have tubs (some hydro-massage) and/showers and fragrant Damana toiletries.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

It's a real treat to eat so well in such a remote corner of the country. Once the sun goes down dozens of candles are lit (candelabras inside, lanterns in the garden) and tables are dressed in thick linen cloths; the ambiance is very romantic. Dinners follow a daily changing 4-course menu and the house wines included in the price are from the Douro; all are excellent. There's also a wine list if you fancy picking out a more special bottle.

We started with homemade olive bread, followed by scrummy sauteed mushrooms with bacon and an egg yolk. Partridge and leek gratin was unusual and delicious, and there was a choice of several different homemade desserts.

The buffet breakfasts are every bit as special, and served as late as you like. There's are home-baked breads and treats (multi-grain croissants, slivers of coconut cake), beautiful fresh juices (melon and apple; carrot and orange), and delicious homemade jams (the honeyed greengage is amazing). Although you can order cooked options, we didn't bother, instead filling up on gingerbread and goji berry granolas with yoghurt and fresh mango.

Self-catering wise, the rooms and houses have a mix of kitchenettes and shared kitchens. The kitchenettes are smaller, with basic facilities - microwave, oven, stovetop, a couple of pans, a fridge and a full set of crockery. Kitchens have all this plus a dishwasher, kettle, coffee maker, and more space. Each house has a table in its living room where you can sit and eat, and you can shop for groceries in Meda, 7km away. There are a couple of restaurants in Meda, should you want a change of scene.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Chill by the pool, soaking up the views and snoozing, or dip in the Jacuzzi; this place is all about indulgent R&R
  • The spa is simply amazing; you can easily spend a whole day in its relaxed living areas (sofas, coffee-table books), treatment rooms and exercise pool
  • Don't miss the castle, one of the highlights of our stay. CdC guests get free entry, and we had the incredible ruins all to ourselves as the sun set; magical
  • Have a game of tennis or get your hiking boots on; there are walking trails leading out of the village
  • Visit the stunning Côa Valley Archaeological Museum and Park (see Author Tip), home to some of the world's most remarkable rock paintings
  • Take a boat trip on the Douro from nearby Pocinho: there's no better way to see the river and many trips offer lunch on board as well as port tastings
  • Borrow a mountain bike and follow a network of tracks and quiet roads out from Marialva
  • Visit the historic hilltop towns of Almeida, Castelo Mendo, Castelo Rodrigo and Linhares

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Port tasting
  • Swimming
  • Tennis

Kids

Casas do Coro is well set up for families, though there's not masses for them to do on-site. Parents with babies would find the kitchenettes (and microwaves) a real boon, and older kids would enjoy the pool, exploring the village and castle, and would love the interactive sections of the Côa museum.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can accommodate extra beds and cots. See Rooms and follow the link to the detailed page for information about how many you can sleep in each cottage. Some cottages have hydro-massage baths, others have normal baths.

Babysitting:

By arrangement

Baby listening:

Baby monitors will stretch from some rooms/houses to the restaurant, but not all. Please ask for a room nearby if you plan to leave the little'un as walls are very thick, and distances are big.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • High chairs

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

Children's meals:

All the houses have kitchens or kitchenettes with microwaves, hobs and a fridge (if you're booking 1 room in a shared house, check you will have access to a kitchen/ette if you need one; we didn't get one when we stayed with our toddler as there was a group booking in the rest of the house, and it made life tricky). The nearest grocery shop is a short drive away in Meda; there isn't one in the village.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool (unheated)
  • Lawns
  • DVD player

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Castle
  • Coa Valley Archaeological Museum and Park
  • Mountain bike trails (borrow from the cottages)
  • Boat trips on the Douro

Families Should Know:

The pool is not heated. Bring children's DVDs with you. It's a long drive from Lisbon or Porto airports. Kids need to be well supervised, with hazards like unprotected drops (many), an unfenced pool, hot tub and open fires in winter.

Distances:

  • Airport: 2.5 hours (Porto), 4.5 hours (Lisbon)
  • Hospital: 1 hour
  • Shop: 15 minutes' drive
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

8/10
Rooms
10/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

Let me think, what was poor about Casas do Coro? <br>Err, d'ya know, actually nothing, nada, zilch. <br>Casas do Coro is a fancy village within a village hidden away from mass tourism and we’ve just returned from arguably one of our most enjoyable holidays we’ve ever had. <br>The apartment was clean and tidy with an eclectic mix of furnishings, all the staff were uber friendly, courteous and efficient, the onsite restaurant served great food (this is a far cry from a laminated menu with a picture of gammon, egg and chips) with really good (own brand) wine, the setting/ambiance was near perfect and our host (Paulo) is a born hotelier (Alex Polizzi would be impressed). <br>And if you get the opportunity to partake in the speedboat/wine/lunch trip down the Douro River then snap their hands off – a brilliant experience. <br>So, if you go (as you surely must) then just aim for the ruin at the top of the hill/village or better still resist the temptation to take the first sign post to Marialva and instead travel a further couple of miles towards Meda and approach from that side. <br>An absolutely fabulous holiday that comes highly recommended.

10/10, , July 2015

Great excursion and lovely setting.

9/10, , July 2015

The owners were friendly but we did not meet them until the second night. The room was small and in need of a makeover and dated - with no view apart from a green metal building. There was no information in the rooms about the dinner options or activities in the area. The food was very good - a French slant - and the wine quality very good. It would have been helpful to have information about the local area and for the staff to have been more forthcoming.

6/10, , July 2015

The inclement weather did not dampen our stay. We loved every bit of it. The welcoming champagne was a perfect greeting after a long drive. We had imagined dining outside under the olive trees and lounging by the pool but instead we were warm and dry indoors by the fire. The dinner was delicious and buffet breakfast a definite treat.

10/10, , May 2014

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Rates for Casas do Coro