Sao Lourenco do Barrocal

Near Monsaraz, Alentejo, Portugal Book from Book from £153 per night

A refashioned farm estate with family-size cottages, stylish rooms and a luxury spa, set in wildly beautiful Alentejo countryside
There are vineyards, ancient olive groves and meadows of cattle, but if you are thinking home-spun farmstay, think again. With 780 hectares of land, this monte alentejo is a more like a village. In its converted farmhouse and rows of whitewashed estate cottages, there are over 40 rooms and cottages; it even has its own street. When the owners (the land has been in the same family for 200 years) developed the hotel, they hired a Portuguese architect to refashion barns and outhouses to combine five-star comforts and a country-luxe style with a healthy respect for the landscape, its family memories and local traditions. He's done an incredible job.

In the daytime, São Lourenço do Barrocal’s wide cobbled street – once a rattle of horses, carts and livestock – is busy with buggies of luggage, children on bikes, bustling housekeepers and couples strolling in the sun. There is a bar in a former olive mill, a rustic restaurant, a pool in a meadow, and a shop selling the farm’s own wine and virgin olive oil. Some of the rooms have views of the hilltop village of Monsaraz – one of Alentejo’s prettiest villages. In the evening, you'll find starlit skies, the smell of herbs and wood-smoke... and silence.

Highs

  • A real retreat: come for lazy days of horse riding, picnics in the meadow and wine tasting, or long lunches and afternoon naps
  • A fresh, organic menu in the restaurant - perhaps slow-roasted rabbit with mushrooms, artichoke, figs and sweet potato
  • The serene and scented Susanne Kaufmann spa with its cloister-like treatment rooms and cedar hot tub
  • Nearby Monsaraz is a peach of a village: quaint cobbled streets and a castle with views of Lago do Alqueva, the largest lake in Europe
  • Great for free-range families: masses of space to run around, self-catering cottages and a separate kids pool

Lows

  • The service can be a bit haphazard, particularly in the restaurant during busy times
  • The food gets mixed reviews
  • Leave the fashion footwear at home: with brick floors and cobbled walkways, this is no place for high heels
  • You'll need a car to get the best out of the area
  • Expect the odd grind of agricultural machinery – this is still a working farm, after all

Best time to go

Our favourite season is spring (April/May) when the countryside is luminous with greenery and wild flowers and the weather is pleasantly warm (perfect for walking), though not 100% reliable. Summer is consistently sun-baked with temperatures climbing over 40C; autumn is still sunny but much more comfortable; and winter is cooler but can be a cosy time to visit. The rooms and cottages are well equipped for all seasons.

Our top tips

Borrow the complimentary bikes to explore the vast estate. One of the highlights of our visit was an hour or so spent following the network of farm tracks that meander around its ancient oaks and olives, acres of vineyards and monumental megalithic stones. If you like to have a plan, ask for information on the estate’s 2 marked trails: the Birds Trail and the Olive Trees Trail. Otherwise, just go with the flow.

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
Spa
Wedding
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 40
  • Restaurant & bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Laundry service
Room:

Rooms

The 40 units are divided between rooms and cottages, spread between whitewashed old living quarters. All share the same country-luxe style: brick floors, vintage furniture and soft dairy colours (cream, buttermilk, eau de nil). Finishing touches include Alentejo textiles and hand-painted pottery, Portuguese cottons and artisan rugs.

The 22 rooms are classified as Winery, Courtyard or Farm rooms, different only in size and orientation (we particularly liked the Farm rooms, which form a terrace opening onto the street). Beds are super-kingsize (all convert into twins) and every room has air-conditioning, underfloor heating, an outdoor terrace and possibly the world’s best bathrobes. Two roomy Suites also have a living area with sofas, dining table for 6 people and spectacular views towards Monsaraz Castle. Throughout, spacious bathrooms come with twin basins, bathtubs and/or walk-in showers.

In the original farmhouse are the Meadow, Barn and Yard cottages - though the word ‘cottages’ is an understatement as some are vast. Choose from a 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom version, all with generously equipped Gaggenau and Smeg kitchens (fridge, hob, oven). Some cottages have private terraces.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

The restaurant has the atmosphere of an informal farmhouse kitchen – where everyone gathers to eat, drink and socialise – with an open fire for cooler months and a terrace of refectory-style tables for warmer weather. The emphasis is on ‘farm to table’ and the seasonal menu is built on flower-garnished Portuguese dishes using local cheeses, artisan breads, fish from the Alqueva Lake and the estate’s own wines, olive oil, veal, salad leaves and organic vegetables. Try deep-fried green beans with yoghurt and herbs, chickpea stew with mint and sausage cooked in a clay pot, or slow-roasted rabbit with mushrooms, artichoke, figs and sweet potato.

Breakfast is a generous buffet of hams, cheeses, pastries, cereals fresh fruit and juices, plus eggs to order. Gluten-free and lactose-free diets are catered for. A family-friendly afternoon tea of cake, hot drinks and juices is served in the bar every afternoon.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • There's no need to go anywhere: walking, cycling, bird watching, massages, long lunches, wine tastings and cookery classes can all be done within the estate
  • Book an hour (free of charge) in the spa’s cedar wood hydrotherapy bath, housed in a private room with serene views of the estate
  • Don’t miss the walled hilltop village of Monsaraz, with its cobbled, car-free streets, cafes and craft shops. Its castle – the 13th-century Lago do Castelo – has stupendous views across Alentejo plains and the Alqueva Lake towards Spain
  • Arrange an archaeology tour, or do your own: this corner of the Alentejo is rich in prehistoric monuments including Cromlech of Xerez’ 50 standing stones (10 minutes’ drive) and the estate’s own Menhir do Barrocal, the biggest megalithic stone on the Iberian peninsula
  • Do a day trip to historic Evora (45 minutes by car) for the Cathedral, 16th century Giraldo Square and Roman Temple

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Cooking classes
    • Cycling
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse riding
    • Hot air ballooning
    • Kayaking
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Sailing
    • Shopping / markets
    • Traditional cultures
    • Well being
    • Wine tasting
    • Yoga

Kids

The intention here is to recreate the atmosphere of a village community and families with children are very much part of that ethos. It's heaven for free-range kids, with acres of land to run around in, a kids pool, bikes and horses to ride (by arrangement), and various animals to go and see. The restaurant is child-friendly (there's a play area on lawns outside), and we liked the playroom (suitable for 4- to 11-year-olds) equipped with toys, books and films.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

All bedrooms have space for a complimentary baby cot (suitable for 0-4 year olds); there are no extra beds. Families will probably prefer the cottages, with 1-3 bedrooms apiece, all of which can be twinned, and kitchens to self-cater a few meals. Most rooms and cottages have a bathtub.

Babysitting:

Available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs

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

Children's meals:

A kids menu in the restaurant

Kids Activities on site:

  • Kids pool
  • Playroom with small circus tent, play kitchen, board games, creative materials and books
  • Treasure hunt: you're given a map of the estate and there's a chest of surprises to find
  • Animals to see
  • Bicycles to hire
  • Horse riding by arrangement

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Monsaraz's castle and Evora's Roman ruins

Families Should Know:

Parents must accompany children in the play room

Distances:

  • Airport: 165km (Lisbon)
  • Shops: 12km (Reguengos de Monsaraz)
  • Hospital: 50km (Évora City)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

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

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Rates for Sao Lourenco do Barrocal