Villa Pedra

Soure, Mountain Beiras, Portugal Book from Book from £114 per night

MOST OUTSTANDING RENOVATION MOST OUTSTANDING RENOVATION
Old stones, contemporary comfort and incredible style at this beautiful retreat with self-catering cottages for 2-5
The picturesque Beiras region, cradled between the Douro and the Tejo rivers, stretches from the Atlantic Coast all the way to the Spanish border yet few people outside of Portugal would be able to place it on a map. Friends Manuel and Victor have long known of the region's charms and when they happened upon a remote, abandoned hamlet, Aldeia de Cimao, with stunning views of the emerald-hilled Sicó valley, it was 'game on'.

Bringing urbane sophistication to rustic origins, they oversaw a remarkable renaissance that has given life to a cluster of self-catering cottages for 2-5 guests, which marry a strict eco-brief with chic, decorative pizzazz. The living spaces are as comfortable as they are functional, with a funky mix of contemporary paintings, ethnic art from all corners of the planet and iconic furnishings. A sense of retreat, coupled with genuine privacy and peace makes Villa Pedra a great choice for romancing or deep relaxation, but the cottages are big enough for family groups too.

Highs

  • Really stunning cottages, with oodles of TLC and quality lavished on every last detail
  • Fabulous owners and staff, who couldn't be more welcoming
  • A great on-site restaurant (home cooking with real flair) plus a feast of a breakfast included in the rates and delivered to your door each morning
  • Amazing value
  • The walled pool is a blissfully quiet spot to while away your afternoons, plus each cottage has a private garden

Lows

  • No dinner served on Sundays so you'll need to self cater or hop in the car to eat out
  • You're well off the tourist-beaten track, and a fair drive from the beach, but that's all part of the charm
  • Not much to do locally other than visiting historic Coimbra - this is a place to read, snooze and recharge
  • Only a handful of loungers around the pool, so it can quickly feel crowded

Best time to go

This is a place where you'll be comfortable at any time of year and every season in the Beiras has its own rewards. The landscape changes colour throughout the year, with stunning red golds in autumn, crisp white snow in winter, beautiful mountain blossoms in spring and blue, blue skies in summer. Walkers would naturally choose the months when there's less likelihood of rain, meaning late spring, summer and early autumn. But, like Scotland or the Lake District, those days when you are immersed in mist and rain have their own unique beauty: seeing a blanket of morning mist gradually lifting from the surrounding hills and valleys is a memory which we'll savour for many years to come. And to trek out from the hotel into the high Beiras when the snows are down would be an extraordinary experience. Summer temperatures are around 28C; winter around 6C.

Our top tips

You'll have fun shopping for cooking ingredients in the Aniaos market (6km away), where you'll find stacks of local produce - seasonal fruit and veg, tangy Rabaçal cheeses as well as the softer ones of the Serra da Estrela, a huge range of smoked meats as well as Chanfana veal and suckling pig from Bairrada: the Beiras is known throughout Portugal for the quality of its meat.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Retreat
  • 10 Cottages (for 2-5)
  • Self catering; restaurant open Mon-Sat; breakfast incl
  • 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
  • Concierge Service
Room: Casa do Limoeiro (Lemon Tree)

Rooms

At the end of a very quiet country lane, a clutch of cottages wait amongst the olive and walnut trees. There's no noise from passing traffic: guests leave cars at the entrance to the hamlet then walk the last few metres to the cottages.

The restoration followed a strict eco brief: natural renders, Kambala hardwood from renewable sources, local limestone and marble. Exposed blocks of original stonework speak of the age of the buildings; numerous windows keep things light.

Decorative elements combine '50s and '60s furniture, Murano glass, splashy canvases (some by Victor), Philippe Starck and Kaiser lamps with cushions from Morocco, brass candlesticks from India and carvings from the Amazon. The look is eclectic and it all works brilliantly; you'll want to recreate it at home.

We were amazed by the incredible attention to detail (including a few surprises we won't ruin for you). Best of all, each cottage has a very spacious private garden. Some are rocky, some are grassed, all are immaculately maintained.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Bathrobes
  • CD player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob or stove
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Mosquito net
  • Nespresso
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Satellite TV
  • Slippers
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Each cottage has a fully equipped kitchen with beautiful branded crockery and all you need for culinary preparations - plus dining tables indoors and out. Basic things are provided (washing up liquid, bin bags, salt, pepper) and there are grocery shops and a market 6km away in Aniaos.

However, Villa Pedra's restaurant is superb, so you might wind up eating there every evening (we did!). Decorated in a similarly stunning style to the cottages, with carefully laid tables and a Moroccan-style terrace for aperitifs, meals feel special from the off. Menus are a set 3 courses, daily changing, with an emphasis on seasonal, local ingredients, and Marta's cooking is superb - home cooking with real flair. We loved our traditional salted cod with olives, lamb chops with fresh rosemary, and imaginative light dessert of oranges and pineapple slices doused in Amaretto, hazelnuts and goji berries.

The ingredients for breakfast are provided by your hosts. In your fridge you'll find butter, milk, Rabaçal cheese, yoghurt and cold cuts; freshly baked bread is delivered in a pretty linen bag every morning. You're also provided with Nespresso pods and homemade jams, as well as oranges for juicing. An extra treat comes in the form of fresh eggs from Villa Pedra's chickens.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Dishwasher
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit the Roman ruins and museum of Conimbriga, one of Portugal's most fascinating Roman sites
  • Laze in a hammock, doze by the pool and rediscover the joy of doing precious little
  • Visit the nearby Monastery of Lorvão, one of the oldest in Portugal
  • Take a day trip to Serra da Estrela to hike some of the country's most beautiful trails
  • The mysterious village of Piódão is one of Portugal's most beautiful; historic ruins with many windowframes and doors painted blue
  • Visit a couple of vineyards for wine tasting
  • Spend a day on the beach near Figueira da Foz then have dinner in Pombal on your way back to Villa Pedra

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Pilates
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Villa Pedra would be a great place for a family holiday if your kids aren't the sort who expect all entertainment to be laid on. It is a long way from the beach and a drive from restaurants, towns and villages, but a great place to hole up for a week and spend time together - the grounds and aviary are wonderful.

Babies and children are all charged per night (see Rates).

If you booked 2 cottages together, it would be fun to come with another family or the grandparents (you could take the babysitting and cooking in turn).

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

For families with 1 child, book Jasmin or Cerejeira, which have 1 double room and a sofabed. The remaining cottages all have 2 ensuite bedrooms (most have 1 twin and 1 double) and a sofabed, so sleep up to 5. Only Alecrim has a bathtub, but you can borrow a baby bath if need be.

Baby equipment:

  • High chair
  • Cot (1 per house)
  • Baby bedding
  • Baby bath

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

Children's meals:

Cottages are self-catering and come with food processors, microwaves and all the ingredients you could possibly need for breakfasts. There's an on-site restaurant serving evening meals. You are a bit of a drive from other restaurants and about 6km from the closest market, and will probably eat in most evenings here.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Gardens and a huge lawn for ball games
  • Aviary with Austalorp chickens, Java ducks and Australian parrots
  • Swimming pool with shallow end
  • DVD player and satellite TV

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Roman ruins at Conimbriga
  • Walking and hiking in the hills
  • Coimbra city (20 minutes' drive) has a playpark with all the important Portuguese buildings in miniature for children to play in - Little Portugal

Families Should Know:

Baby monitors won't stretch from the cottages to the restaurant, so families tend to dine early together at 7pm. There are some stone steps in the garden and the pool is unheated and unfenced.

Distances:

  • Airport: 2 hours
  • Hospital: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly: Almond

Location

Villa Pedra is set on a slope of Serra do Sicó, in the centre of Portugal. Even though it feels miles from the madding crowds, it's an easy drive from both Lisbon (approx 170km) and Oporto (aka Porto, approx 160km). Day trips to the beach are perfectly feasible and a foray out to Coimbra can be nicely combined with a visit to the Roman ruins at Conímbriga.

By Air
Fly into Lisbon or Porto. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport
The hotel can arrange transfers - see Rates - but we'd definitely recommend driving here. You'll need a car to get to restaurants, given that public transport is virtually non-existent. But if you'd prefer not to drive, you could take public transport to either Coimbra or Pombal then jump in a taxi: it would be utterly blissful to hide away here with no thoughts of going anywhere at all.

By Car
See our car rental recommendations.

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

More on getting to Portugal and getting around

Airports:

  • Lisbon 170.0 km LIS
  • Porto 170.0 km OPO

Other:

  • Beach 40.0 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 3.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 15 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

If you are looking for a quiet retreat, away from it all, then this is a treasure of a find! A cluster of restored natural stone houses, in hilltop setting, with friendly welcoming owner and fabulous caring and highly personable team. We loved the privacy of The Walnut House, beautifully styled with tasteful collections art, curiosities and comfortable furniture. The flower and fruit filled walled swimming pool a veritable garden of Eden. The food and service was first class. Places to visit require driving here and there, but we most enjoyed the 'just being'.

10/10,

A bit of a last minute booking and so pleased I found it. A great experience. We stayed in the girls school room which is wonderfully furnished. A few minutes walk from from the reception. But a nice walk through the village. Only stayed a couple of nights and ate in both nights. Food options are simple but both my partner and I were blown away by the quality and value. Staff, too were all really friendly. Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

10/10,

We spent 3 idyllic days in Cherry Tree house at Villa Pedra which we particularly enjoyed for its beautiful views across the valley. A highlight of the stay was breakfast in the form of a fridge stocked with regional cheeses, plus ham and farm fresh eggs together with bread delivered every morning in a floral bag hung on our front door. Not forgetting the in-house chef Marta's amazing octopus salad for dinner. What makes this lodge particularly special is not only the secluded setting, but also the special retro touches care of the architect/artist owners. A perfect spot for R&R.

10/10,

Amazingly spacious and well kitted out and decorated houses. The weather wasn’t great when we visited but would have been in heaven if the sun had been shining. A bit out of the way but worth staying just for the peace and relaxation and being well-looked after. A visit to Coimbra was a highlight!

10/10,

Food and service fantastic and Sara couldn’t have been more helpful.

9/10,

Villa Pedra is a gem!

9/10,

A beautiful place well worth a visit - we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

10/10,

We have just spent a week in the little part of paradise that is Villa Pedra. It is very difficult to find anything to criticise. The stunningly restored houses, each with a private outside space, the lovely gardens, the scent of blossom, the peace, the views, the morning bread delivered to the room, the 'private dining experience' in the restaurant, and ....the flowers!
We would have liked a few more coat hangers, some bigger coffee mugs and perhaps a few less 'objets' cluttering the beautiful spaces, but these are matters of taste (ours are minimalist). We absolutely loved it and will definitely be back.

10/10,

The bread was fantastic, as was the detail. Staff wonderful. Directions and signposting excellent.

9/10,

We loved everything about Villa Pedra, the freshly baked bread delivered every day to our doorstep, the beautifully designed villas, the peace and quiet, the restaurant with excellent home cooked food, the walks and surroundings.

10/10,

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Rates for Villa Pedra

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