As purveyors of “cool,” we at PortugalConfidential.com think we know a thing or two about what’s hip, contemporary and unique in the realms of gastronomy, style and travel. So, we were up for the challenge when Turismo Central de Portugal suggested we take a road trip to discover some of the cool hotels across their region. We have to admit, we were pleasantly surprised and delighted.
Central Portugal is the area north of the capital city of Lisbon, but south of the second largest city Porto, with the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Spanish border to the right. Historic hilltop villages dot the landscape, while city-life can be found in Viseu, Guarda, Coimbra and Aveiro. The region epitomises the perfect blending of laid-back traditional Portugal lifestyle with that of 21st century design and amenities. A fine example of this aesthetic can be found in these Seven Cool & Unique Hotels of Central Portugal.
Passado de Pedra is a small rural hotel in the centre of the eastern village of Caria. The early 19th century home was recently transformed into 6 guest units. One bedroom is in a former wine press room; a small apartment is now in the old stable. The main house has four more rooms which can be rented separately or configured for groups and families. Ask owner Graça for a walking tour of Caria, a village rich in Portuguese, Moorish and Jewish history.
Imagine a medieval village transformed into a boutique hotel. Former village houses are left intact on the exterior, but renovated for 21st century guests on the inside. At Casas do Coro in Marialva, the feel is rustic, but the accommodations are modern, the amenities are luxurious and the service is exemplary. Select from individual rooms or multi-bedroom houses at this chic hotel.
Sitting on top of one the highest peaks in the Serra da Estrela mountain range, Casa das Penhas Douradas is a high-altitude nature retreat as well as a design hotel. Mid-century modern elements are reinterpreted in the decor, with birch the predominant material in furniture and cabinetry, while traditional Burel wool fabric, manufactured in a factory down the hill, adds softness and warmth. Outside, numerous mountain trails offer amazing views of unique rock formations and the valley below. Inside, relax by the fire in the guest lounge or slip into a sauna in the hotel’s spa.
Casa de Sé is a small luxury hotel in the centre of historic Viseu. This sumptuously renovated 18th century building has 12 rooms, each uniquely decorated with antique furniture and decorative objects. Should guests fall in love with a particular item, everything is for sale. At Casa de Sé, history, art and luxury cohabitate in harmony.
Aveiro is often called the “Venice of Portugal” for its canals winding through the city centre. “Moliceiro” is the name given to the ornately-decorated “gondolas”. With a romantic view to these canals is the boutique Hotel Moliceiro. 49 rooms are available, but we recommend asking for one of the distinctive theme rooms ranging from Chanel, Provence and Lavender to Manhattan, Cosmopolitan and Marrakesh. Our favourite is the Oriental room with long private terrace.
Villa Pedra Natural Houses, just south of Coimbra, is quiet old-world Portuguese village life completely redefined for the 21st century. The hilltop village of Aldeia da Cima was literally abandoned for 70 years, until recently discovered by a Lisbon-based designer and architect team. They gave new life to the village by constructing modern, artfully-designed houses set amongst richly landscaped gardens, pool and even an aviary. Villa Pedra is perfect for short- or long-term escapes.
Think trendy urban boutique hotel snatched-up from the big city and placed perfectly on a large sandy beach in Portugal, and you’ve got Furadouro Hotel & Spa in Ovar. This modern hotel of 27 rooms features a gourmet restaurant and large full-service spa. But, of course, the best amenities are the view to the ocean and the sound of waves crashing to the beach.
Learn more about cool and contemporary Portugal at PortugalConfidential.com