Quinta da Bouca D'Arques

Viana do Castelo, Porto, Douro & Minho, Portugal Book from

Blissful peace and relaxation at this beguiling 300-year-old Minho manor house, with boutique B&B apartments for 2-4 set in its lush green grounds
Just 10km from Viana do Castelo, one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Portugal's northerly Minho province, this elegant manor house has been a part of the Abreu Teixera's family history for 3 centuries. Every ancient granite stone would have its story to tell. Yet when it came to refashioning this idyllic Quinta as a rural retreat, Ana and husband João were keen to add their own individual stamp. They turned old farm dependencies into 4 cosy apartments, renovated in tune with their pastoral past, then added 2 modern pod-style apartments in amongst the greenery. These wood, glass, steel and concrete structures stand in striking juxtaposition to the adjoining manor. And for those happy with less space, they created one suite in the main house.

Every one has had oodles of TLC lavished upon it, combining family antiques, Ana's hand-painted furniture and paintings with every creature comfort. All are wrapped round by a delectable swathe of mature garden, awash with the colours of agapanthus, hortensia, jacaranda and bougainvillea, and shaded by towering trees - perfect for blissfully lazy afternoons with just a book for company. I found it incredibly reminiscent of those hill station homes the British built in India: places to retreat, recuperate and rejoice in the beauty of what lies all about you.

Highs

  • Little-known beaches, excellent food and wine, crystalline rivers and ancient footpaths: the Minho has something for everyone
  • Rates include breakfast, which is brought to your apartment, after which you have the freedom to self-cater (except in the suite) or eat out at great restaurants
  • João, Ana and Angelo, your hosts at the Quinta, just couldn't be nicer: you'll leave having made new friends
  • Garden lovers will wax lyrical about the Quinta's woodlands, vineyards, lawns and shrubberies, with a delectable pool set amongst them
  • Flexible accommodations in spacious surroundings will suit everyone from families to honeymooners

Lows

  • The Minho can see heavy rain in the winter months, though you'd be warm and cosy at the Quinta
  • No other meals served apart from breakfast, and you'll need a car to get to restaurants and food shops (all apartments bar one have a kitchenette)
  • João's work sometimes takes him away to Lisbon: it would be a real shame not to meet him
  • If you're staying in one of the traditional apartments which horseshoe round the lawn, you should expect to rub shoulders with your neighbours

Best time to go

Northern Portugal is a bit cooler and wetter than Mediterranean Portugal, but still generally warm in summer and mild in winter. Occasional summer rains may last a few days, while the beaches can be windy and a few degrees cooler than inland. Most guests come during May-September. The Quinta is open all year round.

Our top tips

Take time out to walk or cycle along the newly created ecovia that runs along the southern side of the river Lima between Ponte da Barca, Ponte de Lima and on towards Viana do Castelo and ask João to let you know about his favourite river pools for wonderful summertime bathing.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • B&B Apartments
  • 7
  • Self-catering (but breakfast provided)
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Casa da Fonte

Rooms

There are 2 very different types of living space: one traditional, the other contemporary. Fans of innovative design will love the raised pod-style apartments, Jacaranda and Acer (each sleeping 2, double or twin). These break radically with the mould of the adjacent manor: floor-to-ceiling, sliding-glass windows bring the outside in, whilst wooden slats on the sunnier walls ensure that glass house isn't synonymous with greenhouse; they also create beautiful plays of light.

On the inside, doors slide across to define living and sleeping spaces; cupboards slide out to reveal kitchen paraphernalia (all you need for preparing meals in-house). It's an exceptionally ingenious use of space. Full-length curtains match the name of your pod - pale blue for Jacaranda, and coral for Acer (which means maple) - whilst antique tables and chairs remind you that you're still part of a traditional quinta. Spoiling extras include kingsize beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, bathrobes, piles of snowy white towels and Damana goodies. Every mod con is in place, too: air-conditioning, WiFi, flat-screen TV and DVD player, as well as a functional shower room.

If you're of more conservative bent, choose one of the 4 traditional apartments that wrap around the clipped lawns behind the main house, all with kitchenettes. Three of them sleep 2, and can be set up as doubles or twins. Of these, our favourite is Casa da Fonte, whose huge private terrace has a spring-fed granite basin that doubles as a private plunge pool in summer. Buganvília and Magnolia sit alongside together, each with a living room and kitchen; perfect if you're travelling with another couple or older kids. Magnolia also has a large private terrace.

Set slightly apart from the rest of the apartments, Lavanda is the only 2-bedroom apartment, with a twin and a double, making it the obvious choice for families.

The apartments' interiors have been decorated with panache by Ana, who hand-painted much of the furniture and has colour-coded them to perfection. The feeling is warm and welcoming: wooden beams, antique beds and floral fabrics impart a much cosier feel than the 2 pods, but equally pleasing.

In the main house there's one suite, Vinha, the only room without a kitchenette. The decoration is in the same cosy-rustic style as the courtyard apartments; breakfast is served in the family home.

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The makings of a wonderful breakfast are delivered to your room in 2 or 3 forays at the time of your choice. Expect several types of freshly baked bread, various cakes, a plate of local cheese and quince jelly, charcuterie or ham, homemade jams or honey and a bowl of seasonal fruit along with yoghurt and cereal. There's a big flask of freshly ground coffee and a choice of a dozen teas: the Portuguese like the stuff almost as much as the Brits. And, joy of breakfast joys, a whole jug of freshly squeezed orange juice.

No other meals are served, but all apartments (save the Casa da Vinha Suite) have been conceived with light self-catering in mind. Each has a kitchenette or (in Casa Buganvília) a full kitchen, as well as indoor and outdoor dining areas. You get a few things to start you off - bottled water, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, milk, sugar - plus a bottle of wine for booking through i-escape. Shopping locally is a breeze: you'll pick up produce to rival that of any farmer's market, or there's a supermarket 1km away. And don't miss out on the chance of buying fish fresh from the slab at the port at Viana. If you're staying in one of the traditional apartments grouped around the lawn, you may find yourself getting together with other guests at mealtimes, especially if you're using the communal barbecue: the relaxed vibe of this place seems to foster sociability.

If you fancy a break from cooking, there are first class restaurants galore within a 20-minute radius. We had one of our most memorable meals in Portugal down by the quayside in Viana at the wonderful Tasca da Linda, whose ocean-fresh fish is sublime. A little further into town, Taberna do Valentím is a local institution: when the fresh fish runs out, Valentím simply closes shop. Following the good counsel of our hosts we also tried 2 simpler eateries: Darque Villa, a modern restaurant close to a busy road, whose food and friendly service more than compensated; and O Espigueiro, even closer, whose indoor and outdoor dining, modest prices and really tasty regional food earned a big thumbs up from us.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Toaster
  • Welcome hamper
  • Barbecue
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hunker down with a book in a quiet corner of the Quinta's gorgeous garden

  • Head up to the basilica of Santa Luzia high above Viana for a stunning view of the town and the Atlantic

  • Cycle or walk along the leafy ecovia which runs along the Lima's south bank and passes close to Bouça d'Arqués

  • Let João guide you towards idyllic river pools in the Neiva for magical summertime bathing

  • Drive less than half an hour to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country: surfers will have already heard of Afife and Moledo; for kitesurfing and windsurfing head to Cabedelo Viana beach

  • Discover the magnificent old town of Ponte de Lima or head slightly further afield to visit Braga, Barcelos and Valença

  • Set time aside to talk with Ana and João and their delightful second-in-command Angelo: they'll have time set aside just for you

  • Walk a part of The Way of St James: a footpath leading out from the Quinta links in with one of the major medieval routes to Santiago

  • Explore the wild scenery of Peneda Geres National Park for its mountainous ridges and plentiful plantlife

  • The Minho is where Vinho Verde wine originates, go winetasting around Viana do Castelo

  • There are three golf courses nearby - in Ponte de Lima, Estela and Fão

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kitesurfing
  • Museums / galleries
  • Picnics
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing
  • Wine tasting

Kids

We can vouch for the fact that families love this place, having witnessed an Argentinan family whoop it up during our stay. There's that big sweep of flat lawn for toddling, running and outdoor games, there are the woods to explore, the pool, a secret wooden house and easy interaction with other bambinos as well as with those of João and Ana. They recommend it for families with children aged 4-12, and we'd add that it's good for under 4s too (but watch the pool!).

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

All the apartments and both pods are a great option for families. The suite doesn't have a kitchenette but they all do.

For those travelling with 2 or more kids, Casa da Lavanda is the best option as it's huge (90m2) and has 2 bedrooms (one twin, one double). The price quoted also includes 4 guests (ie 2 parents and 2 kids). You could otherwise book both Casa Buganvília and Casa Magnolia as they are adjacent. Their prices don't include extra beds (children 4 and up are charged, see Rates). Cots incur a small fee. There are 3 extra cots and 8 extra beds overall.

Babysitting:

English-speaking available, arrange in advance. See Rates.

Baby equipment:

  • High chair
  • Baby bedding
  • Night light
  • Baby bath
  • Bottles can be warmed

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

Children's meals:

No meals apart from breakfast; picnic lunch by arrangement. Kitchenettes have a microwave but no blender. You can hire a chef for your stay and there are takeaways nearby. Evenings see a communal BBQ. Supermarket and farmers' market within a short drive. Joao and Ana recommend Restaurant Espigueiro for family meals out and it is a 5 minute drive away.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Walking in the forest and in the vineyards
  • Saltwater swimming pool
  • 6 bikes for hire (for free)
  • Great flat lawn for games
  • Woods to play in plus secret wood house
  • Childrens DVDs

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Animal farm 15 minutes' away
  • Playground in Viana do Castelo 12 minutes' away
  • Beaches and watersports (surfing, windsurfing) 15 minutes' away
  • River beaches and pools 10 minutes' away
  • Old Sea Boat 10 minutes' away

Families Should Know:

It's not particularly pushchair friendly and the main hazards are steep stairs and the unfenced pool. You can get a mobile signal everywhere in the property.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Hospital: 12 minutes
  • Shops: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for Quinta da Bouca D'Arques