“A rural hotel with a stylish fusion of old and new, set amid orange groves just a 15-minute drive from the UNESCO-listed city of Evora”
The rooms and suites combine contemporary furniture with quirky pieces picked up on the owners’ travels - a beautiful blend that’s offset perfectly by whitewashed walls, raftered ceilings and smooth oak floors. Top-notch amenities come as standard: powerful showers, iPod docks, radios, flat-screen TVs, bathrobes, Eau d’Orange Verte lotions, and minibars brimming with wine, chocolate and even cheese.
Six of the rooms occupy the old stable block, which spreads up a slope from reception. Each has its own entrance and a section of terrace screened by lavender, with a parasol and a couple of easy chairs - perfect for morning coffee, sundowners, or nightcaps as the moon rises above the orange trees. We stayed here in a standard Double Room - it’s the cheapest category, but there was nothing inferior about our heavenly four-poster, the gleaming polished concrete around our bathtub, and the comfy armchairs at the foot of our bed.
A notch higher on the price and size ladder are the 2 Junior Suites, which have the added bonus of wood-burners (worth the extra spend if you're here in winter). One was our favourite room décor-wise, with slick Eileen Grey tables, an antique bicycle above the bed, and a glass-enclosed bathroom (don’t worry, the loo is hidden!) with a sunken tub and a display of vintage sewing machines. The other is a little less eye-catching but has a separate sitting room. There’s also a Standard Suite, which is larger still but has no tub in its open-plan ensuite.
Top of the range are the Superior Suites. One sits alongside the other rooms and has a fabulous lounge with a stone hearth and a collection of old violins; the other is a vast space above reception, reached via a private staircase from the lawn. The freestanding roll-top tub means it’s a favourite with honeymooners, but it’s the only room without outdoor space.
Breakfast is served until a leisurely midday in the airy dining room at the end of the garden, where there's a vintage motorbike, a piano and a row of arched windows that catch the morning sun. It’s a tasty spread of all the usual continental fare - cold meats, cheeses, cereal, fruit, bread and pastries, jams - along with bacon, eggs, homemade orange juice and excellent coffee.
The dining room is also open on Fridays and Saturdays for dinner. The chef mixes traditional Portuguese ingredients with contemporary influences from Europe and beyond and, although we weren’t able to sample them, the results - breaded brie with tomato jam, veal carpaccio with leak cream, bacalhau and coriander risotto - sound very good indeed.
On all days, a selection of so-called ‘light dishes’ is available until 8pm, and staff will happily set up a table inside or out. Don’t be fooled by the description: the portions are large enough for a full meal and make a convenient option for lunch and, if you’re prepared to eat early, dinner. We tucked into smoked salmon wraps, spaghetti Bolognese and a delicious caprese salad of juicy tomatoes, mozzarella and sweet Balsamic vinegar, followed by simple yet refreshing bowls of cinnamon-dusted ice cream. There’s also an honesty bar in the garden, stocked with juices, beers and wine made especially for Imani by a vineyard-owner friend of José and Mariana.
When it comes to eating out, Evora’s restaurants are an easy drive or taxi ride away. For traditional Alentejo cuisine (herby game stews, wild boar), head to Tasquinha do Oliveira or O Fialho. For tapas in a more informal setting, try BL Lounge or nab an alfresco table under the lemon trees at wine bar and deli Páteo. Reception can point you in the right direction and make reservations.
This is a serene and sophisticated retreat that we feel is most suited to couples. That said, children of all ages are welcome, and the extensive grounds and 2 pools mean there’s plenty of space for everyone. Kids will also enjoy playing pool or table football, and meeting the resident donkeys.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)
One of the Junior Suites can take an extra bed (additional charge) or baby cot (free); the standard Double Rooms and the other Junior Suite can take a baby cot only. If you're coming with more than 1 child, book the Standard Suite or the Superior Suite in the old stable block, which can each accommodate 2 extra beds or baby cots (though note that the former has an open-plan ensuite with no tub). One Double Room and one Junior Suite interconnect - also handy for families.
The menu of light dishes includes plenty of child-friendly options (spaghetti Bolognese, hamburgers, ice cream) - ideal for feeding the kids before you head out for something more substantial.