Throughout Portugal, but especially in the scenic northern wine regions, owners of grand manor houses and noble estates have begun to share their homes with travelers who enjoy “getting inside” the country they visit.
Rooms are usually quite elegant, luxurious and furnished in family antiques. Original art, fine dining and wines from the estate are among the extra bonuses, as are the warm and personal welcomes travelers receive from the hosts.
This round-up of recent articles describing individual manor houses in the Solares de Portugal program will help you plan your own vacation in Portugal, and see a side of this lovely country that most tourists never see.
The shining example of the Solares de Portugal, Paco de Calheiros offers an exceptional travel experience that goes far beyond any hotel. Guests of the Conda de Calheiros and his wife can spend their days exploring the estate’s beautiful gardens and vineyards or touring northern Portugal.
At Casa de Mogofores, perfectly located for exploring the Coimbra area between Lisbon and Porto, we were introduced to Bairrada DOC wines by the owner of one of the major wine quintas. He also happened to be the owner of Casa de Mogofores. One of the joys of the Solares de Portugal is that guests have these rare chances to share a glass of wine in the evening with the owners.
Our room at Casa das Torres de Oliveira, in Portugal’s Douro Valley, was at the top of one of the square towers that gives this early 18th-century manor house its name. Four enormous windows overlook two sides of the estate, and the view stretches from a craggy mountain to the Douro River itself.
Casa do Terreiro do Poco is located right in the center of Borba, in Portugal's Alentejo. The owners greeted us in a garden filled with the heady fragrances of orange blossoms, jasmine and lavender, and showed us to our “room” – a little house off a stone-paved courtyard. Solares members are rarer in this area east of Lisbon, and unlike many others, this one is not an historic manor house, but a group of town houses converted into a tranquil little oasis of luxury.
At the foot of the Serra do Estrela mountains in Portugal, the little village of Aldeia Nova do Cabo stretches along a hillside with views of the mountains and the setting sun. Both of these are visible as I look out my window from the 16th-century manor house of Casa do Cimo.
Although its charming owners speak no English and we hardly any Portuguese, we feel immediately welcome as we are invited into the grand entry hall the beautiful manor house of Casa do Cimo, at the foot of the Serra do Estrela mountains. The terrace offers an even grander view than the one from our room, stretching across the mountains and around to the estate’s olive trees, and a newly planted orchard of peach trees.
Instead of having to contact each of these lodgings separately, you can make all the reservations, and get help in planning an itinerary that reflects all you own personal interests, by contacting Solres de Portugal. You can either “shop” for lodgings on their website or they will arrange an itinerary for you without charge, based on your personal preferences.