Ha Mar ao Luar

Setubal, Lisbon Coast, Portugal Book from Book from £75 per night

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 rustic, 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 simple, understated romance, or families looking for an easy escape with shared pool and beaches nearby.

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

  • Don’t expect hotel service, do expect peace and privacy at the top of a hill
  • Some beds are on the firm side, and extra beds have thin mattresses
  • The kitchens are simple
  • Early season feedback suggests that the building needs a lick of paint, and the grounds some TLC
  • The night life is at the bottom of the hill, but you are here for rustic escapism

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.

You might want to bring earplugs (against the barking dogs at night) and pool/beach towels (none are provided).

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
  • 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: Casa do Mar ao Luar

Rooms

The main house holds an apartment, a suite and a 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 Suite is connected to the main house, but 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.

Since our visit the 2-bedroom Casa do Mar ao Luar apartment has been added, it sounds spacious and homely (with its own kitchen) so we can't wait to stop by and road test it soon.

Features include:

  • CD player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Internet access
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • TV

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
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • In house cook
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Restaurants nearby
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, Comporta 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:

  • Birdwatching
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

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 Casa do Mar ao Luar is great for larger families, with 2 bedrooms and space for extra beds.

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:

Location

Ha Mar ao Luar is 5 minutes by car outside Setúbal, 50km south of Lisbon on the coast. It is 7 minutes from the nearest railway station.

By Air:
Lisbon Portela Airport (40km) is the closest (about 45 minutes-1hour away). Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving it.

From the Airport
Jump in a taxi or hire a car (see below).

By Car:
See our car rental recommendations.

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

More on getting to Portugal and getting around

Airports:

  • Lisbon Portela 40.0 km LIS

Other:

  • Beach 5.0 km
  • Shops 2.0 km
  • Restaurant 1.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 8 independent reviews from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
7/10
Food
8/10
Service
8/10
Value
8/10
Overall

The hosts looked after us very well. Great on restaurant recommendations and local tips. Very peaceful spot... well looked after.
Easy journey from Lisbon airport.

10/10,

Great place with a fantastic view!

8/10,

Need some refreshment in room furnishing and painting.
Very spectacular place with amazing view and good outside terraces.

6/10,

We liked everything from the location, to the breakfast, the people working there, the windmill itself - it was all just perfect. Was so lovely to have hot fresh coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and omelette/scrambled egg and fresh bread each day with ham and cheese/butter/honey/jam etc.
Our favourite 'thing' was Luar (moon in Portuguese) - the lovely resident dog - she was just so lovely and we miss her so! Take a catamaran to Troia for the day - it's beautiful to walk around it - the beach was almost empty!

10/10,

The hosts at our were really excellent and went out of their way for us - offering all sorts of advice but also providing us with jugs of Sangria and cheese toasties when we arrived.
My only area of concern was the decking around the pool is in need of replacement - there are a few nails poking out and some boards are very loose - once this sorted its a perfect place to spend a few days.

10/10,

A lovely, relaxing place to stay if you want to get away from it all. It's a great base from which to explore the coastline and enjoy some pristine views

10/10,

Laid-back, calm, friendly.
Not too many good restaurants in Setubal.

7/10,

This accomodation is not luxurious in itself but the mountain top location and views are superb. Very peaceful and restorative, would definitely return.
More effort could have been made with breakfast ingredients in the room but lovely to have fresh bread delivereed daily. The spacious 'room' (really a studio apt) allowed for cooking simple meals which was great.

8/10,

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