“Winery, gourmet restaurant and small boutique hotel at the heart of the Baixo Alentejo”
In the latest chapter of this story for sybarites, they've added 10 sumptuous guest rooms and suites in a restored farmhouse 500m away. All in all, this place is as good as it gets for foodies and wine lovers and, should you overindulge, there's a big range of outdoor activities on offer as well as a subterranean spa. Seductively southern, perfectly Portuguese and alluringly alentejana, visit Malhadinha in the knowledge that you're guaranteed a truly remarkable hotel experience.
- Great food, top wines, fab rooms: what more could you want?
- The staff at Malhadinha are charming, informative and genuinely helpful: they all go beyond the call of duty
- The estate feels rural and remote yet you're within reasonable driving range of the Algarve beaches and of some fascinating inland towns
- The sitting room and wine bar have a really intimate vibe, as does the winery restaurant
- You can learn how the Malhadinha wines are created and, if you like, join in with the annual grape harvest
- Access to the farm is tricky so be sure to remember your arrival instructions
- It's a 5-minute drive from the hotel to the restaurant for dinner
- When I stayed, the background music being piped through to the hotel's sitting room was a weird pot-pourri of Frank Sinatra, Spanish rock and oriental Chill
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
At present Malhadinha has just 10 rooms but plans are afoot to convert other buildings on the estate. Of these, there are 2 suites, Marias and Malhadinha, one junior suite, Pequeño Joao, and 7 doubles, Cacho de Uva, Peceguina Flor, Oliveira, Borbolata, Caracol, Abelhinha and Lagartinha.
I stayed in one of the suites and would find it hard to fault my immaculately conceived sleeping space. Both suites have high-ceilinged sitting rooms with a mezzanine level where a second double bed has been tucked beneath the beams. Down below you can slump into a comfy sofa or lounge on to the ottoman. Their focus is a woodburning stove which, Janus-like, looks forward to your sitting room and back into the main bedroom.
Here, in addition to an enormous 2m x 2m bed dressed in fine linen with your monogrammed bathrobe and slippers neatly bundled up, you'll find a freestanding tub, a big fitted wardrobe and a writing desk with a perspex Starck chair. Expect loads of little treats: your complimentary bottle of the estate's Monte da Peceguinha wine on a silver tray for booking through i-escape, a bowl of fruit next to the bath tub and a big vase of cut flowers.
Your suite's bathroom leads off from the sitting room but is visually linked in with the bedroom by a glass panel behind the twin surface-top sinks: drop-down blinds determine to what extent you share your ablutions. There's a walk-in rain shower to complement the tub next door.
The junior suite also comes with a huge kingsize double and the treat of a freestanding tub next to the bed, whilst the 7 standard rooms are smaller but have the same range of creature comforts: airconditioning, underfloor heating, fitted wardrobes, as well as all of the towels, toiletries and special extras that you get in the suites. The baths have an overhead shower although, in this case, it's within the bathroom itself. And a big plus for booking a standard is that you get a slice of deck outside your room with direct access down to the pool and spa.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Internet access
- Safe box
- Satellite tv
A stay at Malhadinha is very much about good food and wine, and the heart of the matter is the Restaurante Gourmet da Malhadinha (closed Sundays and Monday lunchtime), which looks out to the vineyards and inwards to the gleaming steel vats of the winery. The idea was to create dishes that would showcase the estate's red, white and rosé wines. Under the guidance of Michelin-starred chef Joachim Koerper, the restaurant offers a modern take on regional dishes. Reasonably priced 3- and 5-course menus change with the seasons and follow the dictates of nouvelle cuisine: manageable portions, light sauces, fresh-as-fresh ingredients and eye-catching presentation.
A typical lunch or dinner might begin with a selection of amuses-bouches, followed by salt cod confit in an olive crust, then Iberian pork shoulder with apple and celeriac puree, and melon carpaccio with port wine ice cream to finish. Everything looked so pretty on the plate I felt almost loathe to disturb their culinary artwork. And everything that they magicked up for me was simply scrumptious.
If you're more of a traditionalist you can also order time-tried Alentejo dishes like a hearty cocido (a bean soup), an ensopado de borrego (a type of lamb stew) or some variant on the game theme: a lot of hunting goes on in the region.
Breakfasts are less formal events and take place back in the hotel's open-plan sitting-cum-dining room. You eat at one big, square wooden table flanked by 12 perspex Philippe Starck chairs or, when the weather's right, at individual tables on the decked terrace which overlooks the pool and spa.
Your meal takes the form of a big buffet and will include fruit salad and freshly squeezed orange juice, alentejano hard and soft cheeses, locally cured ham, a selection of freshly baked breads, croissants, yoghurts, homemade cakes and biscuits as well as any variant on the cooked breakfast theme that takes your fancy.
Light snacks can be prepared at the hotel at any time during the day and gourmet picnics can also be created but these need to be ordered in advance.
If you want to eat elsewhere try one of the two local restaurants, Restaurante O Celeiro or Restaurante A Cavalariça for simple traditional fare.
- Take a tour of the bodega to see how Malhadinha's wines are put together and, if you're new to the game, let the basics of wine tasting be explained to you
- Grab a mountain bike, or saddle up a horse, and ride out through the estate, perhaps with one of Vítor's gourmet picnics
- Fish in the river that cuts through the property: rods and lines are provided
- Spend the day exploring nearby Evora: the town has a deliciously out-of-time feel to it, and there are some excellent Roman ruins including a temple. Nowadays it has the happy buzz of any university town
- Take to the air with a balloon flight over the vineyards
- If you're here at the end of the summer join in with the grape harvest
- Go kayaking on the River Guadiana, 40km from the hotel
- Chill out by the pool then head to the spa for a steam and a massage or choose a detoxing or relaxing treatment from the extensive menu; ask if you'd like to have some yoga tuition while you're here
- Enquire about the week-long cooking courses, which Vítor Claro runs, or sign up for a wine week or activity week
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Hot air ballooning
- Museums / galleries
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
- Wine tasting
Although children are welcome, with an accent so firmly placed on wine and food this doesn't strike me as an ideal place for families. That said, the two suites both have a second double hoisted up on their mezzanine levels and kids would certainly enjoy exploring the estate: I was taken off to see piglets being born! The possibility of learning to ride would be an added attraction for older kids and the pool and mountain bikes could provide plenty of entertainment for a shorter stay.
Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking