Ha Mar ao Luar

Setubal, Lisbon Coast, Portugal Book from Eur70

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Simple hideaway high on the hill above Setubal, with quirky self-catering accommodation and stunning views out to sea
The position here is faultless: high above the castle, with imperious views that stretch as far as the eye can see. Directly in front a thirty-mile crescent of sand curves south on the Tróia peninsular; to your left the Rio Sado sweeps west, carving out the odd lagoon before tumbling into the ocean. Sailing boats, cargo ships and ferries zip about; the historic port of Setúbal guards the banks three miles below.

Há Mar ao Luar ('moonlight-on-sea') is a quirky place with smart, homely interiors and a pool on a terrace. There are suites in the main house, a windmill with staggering views, other hideaways nestled in the garden. Breakfast is left in your fridge the night before, so you can get up whenever you like. You can walk down the cliffside path, past the castle, into the vibrant town where ferries shuttle across to Tróia for beaches, Roman ruins, a golf course and bird watching. Perfect for couples in search of understated romance, or families looking to escape.

Highs

  • Fabulous views of the estuary and ocean
  • Quirky, good-value accommodation, with the option to self-cater
  • We loved the Casinha with its cosy terrace, and the windmill - Moinho du Luar - with its bed-with-a-view
  • Setúbal for its old town; the peninsula for its wooded hills and secluded beaches

Lows

  • Parts of the grounds were a little scruffy when we visited
  • No freshly-squeezed juice at breakfast
  • The night life is at the bottom of the hill, but you are here after escapism
  • Don’t expect hotel service, do expect peace and privacy at the top of a hill

Best time to go

Setúbal, with its peninsula and proximity to Lisbon, makes a good year-round destination. May and June are beautiful, especially for walking and country drives, though the sea is still a little chilly. Like much of the country, July and August can get pretty hot. The grape harvest festival at Palmela takes place on the first Sunday in September and is very well attended. The extremely reasonable winter rates extend throughout November-April.

Our top tips

The further east you drive, the less populated and more beautiful Portugal gets. It’s an undiscovered, untouched, utterly authentic area which has hardly changed in 150 years. Roman Evora (a World Heritage site) is an hour east on the motorway, wonderful Estramoz (a good example of a small but important provincial town) is 30 minutes beyond. Don’t miss them.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Makes the grade
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Apartments & Cottages
  • 6
  • Breakfast + basic self-catering
  • 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
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

The main house holds 2 suites and 1 small double room, all with private entrances, while in the garden you'll find 3 more retreats: a windmill, a cabin and a huge suite tucked under the terrace. Most have a kitchen or cooking corner so you can self-cater with ease.

Our favourite was the Moinho do Luar (aka the windmill) which dates to 1802. Here you can lie in bed and gaze out through French windows on the ocean below - great for a special occasion.

We also loved the private Casinha, a small wooden cabin tucked into a lush corner of the garden. Throw open the glass doors and step into a small but colourful world: vibrant tiles, a day bed in the sitting room and an uncluttered bedroom. Also charming is the Refuge, which has a whole wall of glass, opening onto a private terrace.

The Blue and Green Suite are both connected to the main house, but each has a private entrance. You get a bedroom and a sitting room, plus a bougainvillea-shaded terrace. Expect stripped wood floors, cast-iron daybeds, white walls to soak up the light, dining tables inside and out. The White Room, also connected to the main house, is very similar to the suites, but is just a little smaller.

Features include:

  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Tv
  • Cd player
  • Radio
  • Central heating
  • Fan
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Terrace
  • Kitchenette
  • Full kitchen
  • Fridge
  • Microwave
  • Coffee tea making

Eating

All rooms except the White Room have kitchenettes with a couple of hobs, a fridge and a microwave, so you can prepare picnic lunches or whip up pasta and soups. If you wanted to cook dinner you could, but most people retreat from the pool for a spot of home-made lunch, then head down to town for a bite in the evening. For traditional fare we like Cozimha de Abade, while Fernando’s does tasty fish and seafood. Equally, you could head west along the peninsular to find good fish restaurants at most of the beaches.

As the White Room has no kitchen, breakfast is either served on its terrace in good weather or in the main house if it’s raining. For all the other rooms, breakfast is left in your fridge the night before and in the morning small loaves of freshly-baked bread are delivered to the front door. You’ll get milk and juice, cheese and ham, jam and bread. There’s coffee and tea in each kitchen, too.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • In house cook
  • Kitchenette
  • Full kitchen
  • Fridge
  • Microwave
  • Coffee tea making
  • Walk to restaurants
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Setúbal, once an old fishing village, is now a busy port and the district capital. The alleyways of the old town are full shops and restaurants. There’s a market every day except Monday (Saturday is busiest). If you want something a little bit different take to the water and search for dolphins or sail the estuary of the Rio Sado and look for flamingos. Boats leave from the marina. The town was settled in prehistoric times and has thrived ever since the Iron Age. Christians, Romans, Barbarians and Moors have all fought over it. It is also the home town of the special one: Jose Mourinho.
  • The Setúbal Peninsula juts west for about 25km. To the north the spectacular bridge across the Rio Tejo takes you into Lisbon in style; in the middle rise the Arrábida Hills. Explore them and find the Arrábida Convent (it dates to the 14th century), pretty white villages, the beaches at Galapos (great scuba diving) and Portinho da Arrábida (popular fish restaurants). The grape harvest festival at Palmela takes place on the first Sunday in September and is very well attended; the odd drop gets drunk
  • The Tróia Peninsula is a great day-trip. Ferries whizz you and your car across in about 20 minutes. Try Tróia for Roman ruins or golf, the Caparica Coast for 30 miles of beach (don’t expect a crowd), Alcácer do Sal for the Sado Estuary (canoe trips and flocks of flamingos), Santiago do Cacém (where the Knights Templar defeated the Moors in 1157) for the well-preserved ruins of a hilltop castle and a pretty old town below.
  • Lisbon is close. If you don’t want to stay in the city, but wish to visit, you can drive (40 minutes), take the train (an hour) or park the car at Almada and take the ferry across the mighty Rio Tejo

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Kids activities nearby
  • Birdwatching
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • History religious
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Swimming
  • Shopping

Kids

This is a quiet rustic property where families are welcome, but not in great numbers as there are only two family apartments. We think it is not a great place for toddlers but it’s quite well suited to older children who will love the sandy beaches and boat rides nearby, but apart from the pool, there’s not too much to occupy them on site. The combination of self-catering facilities and nearby restaurants makes life here with children a lot more flexible.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The Refuge apartment is best for families with a baby, whereas the Green Suite works best with older children as extra beds can be added.

Baby equipment:


  • Baby cots
  • High chair

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

    Kids Activities on site:


    • Swimming pool

      Kids Activities nearby:


      • Horse riding
      • 4 golf courses
      • Sailing
      • Boat rides

        Families Should Know:

        The (unheated) swimming pool is unfenced and has a steep drop beside it. There are a few dogs on the neighbouring property. You will need a car to get about although local taxis are not expensive

Distances:

  • Airport: 45-60 minutes
  • Hospital: 7 minutes
  • Shops: 5 minutes (Setubal)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
7/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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