São Lourenço do Barrocal is an idyllic 200 year old farm estate in the Alentejo region of Portugal. A mere two hours from cosmopolitan Lisbon, this area feels a world away. The pace of life is slow here in one of the least populated regions of western Europe. Endless wheatfields, cork forests, olive groves, wildflower meadows and small white-washed villages lend this area a subtle charm - it's the largest region in Portugal and perhaps the least discovered.
In the heart of all this unspoiled beauty, this unique farm hotel offers 40 rooms, suites and cottages that perfectly reflect the rustic appeal of the area. Every room is large and feels like a private retreat designed for reflection and relaxation. The decor is simple but generous with high quality sheets, underfloor bathroom heating, excellent amenities and calming colours and every room has its own outdoor space with views over the fields and low farm buildings that surround the property.
The food in Alentejo isn't hugely sophisticated but it is honest and fresh. The estate's charming restaurant offers delicious local specialties, whether the Serra de Estrella cheese that can be eaten with a spoon, rustic breads, or dishes typical of the region like lamb stew and gazpacho, prepared with local herbs and produce. During the summer, there is a second restaurant offering an al fresco dining experience, surrounded by the picturesque gardens of Sao Lourenco do Barrocal.
With almost 2,000 acres, there is plenty to see and do around the property. One of the fields boasts a swimming pool while there is a superb spa by Susanne Kaufmann and fitness area set amongst the farm buildings. With an exercise studio, a cedar wood soaking tub, dry sauna, hydroptherapy and a range of natural treatments to soothe body and soul, this is a perfect place to unwind and be pampered.
The grounds have several archaeological sites dating to the Bronze age that can be explored with a guide. Treasure hunts are fantastic fun for kids, and walking trails and hikes can come complete with a picnic. There are several horses for riding and wine tastings can also be arranged. Bicycle tours around the Alqueva Lake are scenic and the Alqueva Dam was the first Starlight Tourism Destination in the world and has a Dark Sky Designation. Astronomers will take you on a walk to remember here and it's an experience not to be missed.
Further afield, Evora is worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage designation thanks to its Roman temples, 12th century cathedral and ghoulish Chapel of Bones, whilst nearby Monsaraz is the very definition of a picture perfect hilltop medieval village.