On my eight day self-drive around Portugal I discovered how welcoming and generous the Portuguese are all across this diverse country...
-Would you like a glass of wine or maybe a cocktail?
-No, thank you, unfortunately I am driving.
-Oh that's a shame, I will bring you a detox juice then!
And, the positive discoveries did not stop there as I soon learnt that their hotels are equally wonderful.
I visited a fair few hotels on my trip, so many in fact that I decided to create my own Hotel Awards (sorry, but there's no prize). Here are the winners of my Top Hotel Awards for the following three categories: Best View, Most Relaxing and Most At-One with Nature...
Best View: The Yeatman, Porto
The Yeatman hotel in Porto is one that very much took me by surprise. It is hard to get me awestruck by a city-based hotel but as soon as I saw the view from my room I froze. The hotel is situated five minutes from the old city but the best part of the location is the bedroom view of the Ribeira- the main heart-stealer in Porto. I really struggled to leave my balcony as it felt like I would never be able to get enough of the view - you can see the city's highlights in such detail - the promenade, colourful houses, the river and of course the Ponte Luis I bridge.
The second best part is that even though the hotel was fully booked it did not feel busy or noisy at all. The service was excellent. There was always someone to look after you as if you are an exclusive guest. This really is a must-stay hotel for city breaks in Porto with amazing views and top notch service.
Most Relaxed: Sublime Comporta, Comporta
Sublime Comporta may only be an hour's drive from Lisbon, but you could not feel further from the city's buzzing streets and rooftop bars. About 10 km before I reached the country house retreat of Sublime Comporta I noticed that the landscape changed - suddenly I was surrounded by pine trees and a yellowy-brown haze stretched across the scenery - I immediately relaxed and felt the tranquillity wash over me. Upon arrival I was surprised to find myself not feeling the need to talk (for once) - it's all about relaxing and re-charging here and everything at the hotel invites you to sit down, relax and take in the views.
Enjoying Portugal's Coast
In the evening I decided to explore the local area and found myself discovering a deserted stretch of Comporta beach just as the sun was setting. It is safe to say that first thing the next morning I was back at the beach and happily spent all day by the ocean - the sand invitingly soft and the ocean water perfectly refreshing. Spending a day on the beach and coming back to Sublime Comporta in the evening to enjoy delicious food followed by stargazing is a great way to recover after a few busy days hustling and bustling in Lisbon.
Most At-One with Nature: Malhadinha Nova, Alentejo
Malhadinha Nova is a family-run boutique hotel in the Alentejo area surrounded by cork plantations, wheat fields and, most importantly, vineyards. The hotel is surrounded by 450 acres of vineyard but the estate remains exclusive with only ten guestrooms.
Depending on your personal preference, there is a wide range of activities available during your stay including a private guided tour around the estate, Milky Way gazing, quad biking, fishing, horseback riding, birdwatching, photography, painting - anything, you name it. The incredibly personal service fits around your individual needs and requirements. A large highlight of my stay was the dining - the hotel's restaurant has a Michelin star and offers a variety of culinary delights using fresh and local produce, including the addition of the estate's house wine. All of the rooms are designed in a charmingly rural and elegant style with blue doors and fresh flowers. Outside of the rooms cows, horses and black pigs all walk around freely; the landscape is completely surreal and made me feel as though I was in utter rural bliss.
Combining all Three Hotels in One Trip
All three of these exceptional hotels completely won me over for different reasons and highlighted how diverse Portugal is. I would thoroughly recommend staying at all three of these hotels whilst on a Portuguese road trip where you can enjoy the city delights of Porto, relax on the beach in Comporta and then fill your belly with exceptional food and wine at Malhadinha Nova. Portugal really does have all of the ingredients for the most divine getaway.