8 Portuguese Pousadas Turned Luxury Hotels We’d Love to Spend the Night In
Every year, the Pestana Hotel Group converts historic properties in Portugal—known locally as pousadas—into places you can stay. From monasteries to convents, medieval castles to regal villas, fortresses to government buildings, here are eight unique places that help tell the story of Portugal’s past.
One of Portugal’s newest pousadas is also one of its most beautiful. The restored 200-year-old government building in the heart of the city is awash with dramatic archways, stained glass, and a classical arcade fronting the Praça do Comércio. Guest rooms are just as elegant, with parquet flooring, high ceilings, and some with views of the Tagus River. There’s even an indoor swimming pool on the top floor and a spa, but the coolest detail of all (IOHO) are the various pieces of national art scattered throughout the property—generous contributions from local museums.
This retreat, tucked in a bucolic pocket of Alentejo wine country, is as serene as it was during its former incarnation as a 16th-century convent. The property still retains a beautiful chapel adorned with traditional azulejo tiles, while newer additions include a modern spa and a contemporary pool overlooking the valley. Rooms are refurbished nun quarters, now outfitted with stylized wooden beds and alcove fireplaces—the perfect place to cozy up before bedtime.
Talk about historic. In the fortified village of Óbidos, an hour north of Lisbon, you can sleep in a medieval castelo dating all the way back to the 8th century. Today, 17 guest rooms (including ones in the original castle tower) and romantic common areas are still filled with medieval art and artifacts. Time your visit during the summer and you’ll see locals parading around in traditional medieval garb for July’s Mercado Medieval festival. For even more culture, visit during the fall to attend the Fólio Festival of Literature.
The museum-city of Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the perfect home for this equally historic pousada, housed in a former convent. Guest rooms—former monk cells—are smaller than average, with low doorways that inspire (er, force) guests to bow their way in, but what they lack in space they make up for in elegance with their heavy drapery, plush furniture, and ornately patterned rugs. Elsewhere, the hotel has retained its quiet meditative spaces and air of peacefulness while adding modern amenities like a posh outdoor swimming pool and Loios restaurant, which serves regional Alentejo specialties in a fine-dining setting.
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Located almost as far east as Spain’s border, this countryside pousada is one of the country’s most regal: it’s comprised of a Gothic-style church-fortress, a castellated palace, and a 14th-century monastery built in the Moorish and Renaissance styles. After a treatment in the new spa, while away the rest of your day with a glass of vino on one of the outdoor couches lining the olive tree-shaded courtyard.
This stunning 18th-century Porto palace—now a National Monument—was built by Nicolau Nasoni, one of the city’s most prominent architects. Among its swoon-worthy features is a sprawling garden, 87 elegant rooms dressed up in chestnut and gold hues, and frescoes at almost every turn. The perfect afternoon here involves ordering a glass of port at Bar Nasoni and watching the sunset over the Douro.
With its miles of idyllic, sun-soaked sands, the Algarve was made for beach lovers. That’s where you’ll find Pousada Sagres, perched on the Praia da Mareta cliffs just a five-minute walk from the Atlantic. One of Portugal’s more modern pousadas, Sagres is housed in an original midcentury villa, with clean lines and nautical touches that pay tribute to the Atlantic and Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Many rooms feature views of the ocean and mountains, so be sure to book one with a balcony.
It doesn’t get more remote than this 16th-century former royal fortress, which clings to cliffs above the ocean in the distant Azores—a cluster of Portuguese islands in the mid-Atlantic. The suites and some of the guest rooms have balconies overlooking the ocean, but even if you can’t snag one yourself, the property’s two uniquely angular pools are just as worthy of a photo-op.
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