Paraiso Escondido

São Teotónio, Alentejo, Portugal Book from Book from £85 per night

A heavenly hilltop retreat in the Alentejo countryside with restful rooms and wooden bungalows-on-stilts: perfect for guests who want to stay put

From Africa to the Far East, this elegant yet intimate Alentejo retreat reflects the globetrotting lifestyles of owners Berny Serrão (who grew up in Mozambique) and her Australian husband Glenn Cullen. There's a definite 'on-safari' vibe to their accommodation, with a pair of outstanding bungalows-on-stilts, double rooms infused with Oriental accents, and restorative suites. As for the outdoor pool, it's straight out of a David Hockney painting (very SoCal). Yet the true spirit of Paraiso Escondido resides in the owners' love of the region they now call home: the wine and gastronomy, the ravishing landscapes, the nearness to wild Atlantic beaches, and the natural serenity.

When Berny and Glenn embarked on their ‘life project’ in 2001, there was nothing here but cork trees and eucalyptus set around a lake. They built the colonial-style villa that now accommodates most of the guests, and have since added a glassy contemporary home tucked into the hillside. There are sunny poolside terraces, lawned gardens, a cosy lounge and a large conservatory dining room - Glenn's organic kitchen garden provides ingredients for the delicious home-cooked vegetarian dinners. The couple are deeply committed to green sustainability, yet the mood is is welcoming and refreshingly informal. They really make you feel at home. On our final evening we saw a sign hanging on a wall that said, quite simply: ‘paradise found’. You really wouldn't disagree.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.


  • The hilltop setting with magnificent panoramic views over the cork forests and gentle green hills of south-west Alentejo
  • Fabulous rooms, particularly the stilted bungalows with Out of Africa interiors and tree-bathing verandas
  • A perfect place to do very little - sleep late, have breakfast at 11am, book a massage, read in the sunshine
  • A model of green tourism: from solar-heated water to eco-friendly toiletries, sustainability is a core value
  • The refreshing lack of formality: Berny and Glenn are warm, generous hosts with a knack for making you feel at home


  • A car is essential to get here and the steep drive up the hill isn't for the faint-hearted
  • No dinner offered on Sunday nights and the nearest decent restaurants are a 20-minute drive away
  • No twin rooms
  • No children under 11 allowed (a blessing for some)
  • Note there are 2 resident dogs who have run of the place (though you needn't fear soppy Zulu or little Candy)

Best time to go

This is a good all-season destination, though the Alentejo countryside is at its best in spring and autumn. Visit April-June for the wildflowers, nesting storks and cool evenings. July and August can get very hot, but summer lingers long into autumn.

Our top tips

There are some brilliant places to eat in this region, particularly O Paulo at Arrifana, a cliff-top fish restaurant with a super menu and stupendous ocean views (Berny and Glenn can book ahead for you).

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10 rooms
  • Breakfast + other meals on request
  • 11+ year olds only
  • Closed: 25+26 Dec
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym


Classed as doubles, suites or ‘wooden bungalows on stilts’, all rooms are different and beautifully designed to reflect Berny and Glenn’s exotic world travels. In the main house, 2 Oriental-style suites, Eva Principe and Jasmim, sit side by side; each with a contemporary four-poster bed, a roll-top bath tub and a glassy power shower. Jasmim has the best views.

Still in the main house, there are 3 light and colourful doubles: Hortelã Pimenta, Lucia-Lima and Tilia. The African-style Marula (the roomiest of the suites) is housed in a self-contained mini villa and has a wood-burning stove. The 2 bungalows (Camomila and Cidreira) lean into eucalyptus forest from the edge of the hill, a steep walk away from the main house (from Camomila it’s tempting to drive!).

All rooms have air-conditioning and an outdoor space. The Lake View suites, Marula and bungalows also get minibars and Espresso machines.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi


Vegetarian meals and drinks are served in the lovely conservatory-lounge – light and sunny in summer; firelit and cosy in colder weather. Start the day with a lazy breakfast (served until 11am): fresh fruit, home-baked bread, granola, yoghurt, local cheeses and free-range eggs to order.

For lunch there’s a menu of light snacks (toasted sandwiches!) and in the evenings, a simple, home-cooked 3-course dinner is offered every day except Sunday. On our first night the set menu featured field mushrooms baked in garlic and blue cheese with new potatoes. The next day, carrot and coriander soup, vegetable curry and a coconut panna cotta.

The ingredients are plucked from Glenn’s organic kitchen garden, or bought fresh that morning from local markets. Guests have the opportunity to discuss the menu in advance (vegans and vegetarians are catered for). There's also afternoon cake, a selection of help-yourself teas and coffees, luscious Alentejo wines and an honesty bar.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce


  • Stay put! With the outdoor pool, the restful rooms, the delicious meals and the dreamy views, this is the perfect place to really unwind. Massages are on offer, too
  • Head for the beach: the Alentejo’s Atlantic coast is a long line of wild surfy beaches, including beautiful Odeceixe (one of Portugal’s finest), Amalia, Amoreria, Arrifana and Zambujeira do Mar, all rarely crowded and within a half-hour drive.
  • Take a hike (or bring a bike): You're close to the Rota Vincentina, the 100km-path which follows cliffs and beaches along one of the most pristine coastlines in Europe
  • Do a day trip to the Algarve: the fort at Cape St Vincent at Sagres (Europe’s most westerly point) takes about an hour by car

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Surfing
  • Well being
  • Whale watching
  • Wildlife


No children under 11 allowed. This is a peaceful, grown-up retreat.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Parents travelling with teens like the option of booking Suite Erva Principe in the main house along with Tilia as there's a small reading area between the rooms, suitable for families who prefer a small separation. An extra bed can be provided in the Marula suite for 11-15 year olds; 16+ year olds will need their own room. Another good option for families is to book Hortelã Pimenta with either Lucia-Lima or pool-facing Tilia. All 3 of these rooms could be booked together to form a private wing of the house.

Kid Friendly:


Paraiso Escondido is on the edge of Casa Nova da Cruz, a quiet backwater village that's 6km inland from the small Alentejo town of Sao Teotonio, and around 10km from the coast.

By Air:
The nearest airport is Faro (104km); you could also fly into Lisbon (218km).

From the Airport
The rural location means you'll need a car to get here and get around - see our car-rental recommendations. It's a 90-minute drive from Faro and a 2.5-hour drive from Lisbon.

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


  • Faro 104.0 km FAO
  • Lisbon 218.0 km LIS


  • Beach 10.0 km
  • Shops 6.0 km
  • Restaurant 6.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 9 independent reviews from i-escape guests


Friendliness of the hosts and service team who always provided great tips, managed all the reservation for us and were very helpful. Wonderful views and quiet location.


Amazing relaxing and remote atmosphere with 360 degree views. The food and wine were wonderful. Dinner especially was as if we were having a lovely home cooked meal cooked by a food-loving friend.
Bernie and Glenn are exceptional hosts and they really went out of her way to make sure we were having the best possible stay. Bernie even went through the trouble of listing things to do for our next location in Portugal. She really cares and it shines through in everything.
Other guests we spoke to were regulars, and I have no doubt that we will be planning another visit too.


The fact that I'm writing my first review every represents the uniqueness of our experience at Paraiso Escondido. Everything from the accommodation, the hosts, the food and the atmosphere was a lovely experience.


The place was simply amazing! Bernie and Glenn are two super special human beings who have put so much thought and love into the hotel. From the incredible breakfast they serve to the choice of tea and coffee and the suggestions for the surrounding areas - it has everything and much more! It is a place to relax, rejuvenate and get back in touch with yourself and nature. We will be back in the not so distant future and will be recommending the place to all our friends and family. It is truly one of the best places we've stayed in Portugal!

- Any tips on the area (e.g. restaurants, activities, getting there)? The beaches nearby are incredibly beautiful. Praia de Arrifana is gorgeous and beautiful to have a post swim meal at O Paulo.

- Any feedback on the booking process? No it was super simple! We love your site and will keep using it. The bottle of free wine is a nice touch.


A really fantastic hotel, in a beautiful region of Portugal. We stayed in the Verbena room - both the room and the bathroom are large and finished exquisitely. This is in-keeping with the rest of the hotel, where all of the small details and touches have been thought of and tastefully taken care of. The whole set-up is geared towards relaxation and unwinding, with the hotel situated at the top of a peaceful hill. The pictures online don't actually do justice to how lovely the interiors and the grounds of the hotel are, nor how great the view is from almost everywhere on-site. A car is vital but there are a dozen stunning beaches between 30 minutes and an hour's drive along good, quiet roads - even in August, none of the pretty villages or beaches we visited were busy. Berny and Glenn's hospitality is fantastic - Berny helped us arrange yoga and a massage before arrival, and nothing was too much to ask for either of them once we were there. The food is superb, the wine list is excellent, and on Sunday night when the kitchen was closed, they recommended a fantastic restaurant. They even made sure to reserve us their preferred table, with their favourite waiter. We are planning to return again soon.


My wife and I stayed in Paraíso Escondido for 2 weeks and really found the relaxing atmosphere we were looking for. Berny and Glenn are excellent and caring hosts, who not only offer a top service in the restaurant, but also give useful tips on places to see in the West-Alentejo area. But if you do not want to go anywhere, you can have a great day at the poolside and terrace. Our room was excellent: spacious, plenty of wardrobe space and a big bathtub + shower. The chef prepares a great diner, and the quality of the local products he uses is excellent. The Alentejo wines Glenn proposes are absolutely delicious!!


We had such a wonderful stay at Paraiso Escondido, it was the highlight of our 3 weeks' trip to Portugal. If looking to relax and revive in a truly exceptionnal setting, you must absolutely visit. Berny and Glenn are wonderful hosts tending to all of your needs and the food was just wonderful - eating on site in the evening is definitely recommended.
Overall, a wonderful stay and we are hoping to come back again.


We had a brilliant time - our hosts were excellent. They cared a lot about their guests and it was great getting to know them while we we there. Would highly recommend.


We absolutely loved our all too short stay at Paraiso Escondido. From the warm welcome to the gorgeous rooms, friendly staff and delicious food, everything was faultless. Berny and Glen have the elusive knack of making you feel entirely at home yet knowing when you just want to chill and enjoy the surrounding tranquillity.
We checked in for three nights, did very little but came away re energised and charmed by this rural idyll.


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