Guests truly dig in deep at Portugal’s Craveiral Farmhouse – perhaps literally if they help out with the resident donkeys, horses and pygmy goats. A labour of love by a former lawyer who fell madly in love with an Alentejo carnation farm, this is a stay with emotional impact. Not just because of the wide open spaces, meditative silence and life-giving green, but due to its environmental care, communal support and authentic way of life. It’s unkempt, but that’s part of the charm, and not without its luxuries: earthy farm-to-table cuisine and pizzas straight from the wood oven, houses filled with fine Portuguese furnishings and local crafts, and outdoorsy activities galore. A country estate with potential for growth in all directions.
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £187.26 (€219), including tax at 6 per cent.
Rates include a hearty farm breakfast with fruits, fresh juices, salads, an egg station, homemade cakes, pancakes, pastries, cheese and charcuterie. Yoga classes are also available for free.
The hotel is easily accessible for guests with mobility issues; one of the farmhouses is adapted and there are ramps around the property.
At the hotel
Farm, spa with a sauna and hammam, gym, kitchen garden, bikes free to borrow (mountain bikes for an extra charge), charged washing and drying service, free WiFi. In rooms: TV, air-conditioning, Delta coffee machine and tea-making kit, organic bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The hotel has four clusters of houses (Horta, Medronho, Azinho and Cravo), which from the outside all resemble the traditional squat whitewashed buildings in the region. However, on the inside rusticity is a bit more burnished, with minimalist styling, sleek surfaces, very high-spec furnishings and the odd Smeg kitchen. But, the owners’ admirable Portuguese pride is evident in original drawings and handicrafts from local artisans, and a dedication to brands from the country, such as WeWood, Dam, Sachi, Pedroso & Osório, Costa Nova, Meireles and Esporlux. All of which amp up the luxury of this humbling experience. When it comes to choices, we like the Farmloft, a romantic hideaway for honeymooners, with access to a semi-private pool. And families will be cosseted within the Farmhouse, which sleeps up to six.
Craveiral Farmhouse has four pools in total. One is indoors, in a barn-style building with a fireplace and loungers round the side. The main outdoor pool is a glittering sapphire rectangle amid unmanicured grasses, with a smaller shallow pool for little ones; and two more are set within clusters of houses for semi-private use. All are open 24 hours a day.
The concrete and wood spa is a peaceful space for massages that target different areas of healing or parts of the body, with tailored massages for mums-to-be and children, plus shiatsu. After, spend a oh-so-quiet spell in the cork-lined sauna or hammam lit with copper lanterns.
Bring a suitcase full of outdoor gear, but leave any baggage. Keep a corner free for souvenirs from the hotel's on-site shop that stocks an array of local artwork, candles and sustainable swimsuits.
The hotel's boutique has tasty Portuguese treats, local wine and artwork, swimwear made sustainably using plastic removed from the ocean, and more.
Craveiral is a dream for kiddos, with land to run about in, a farm full of cute animals, an array of tailored activities (many of which are included in the rate), cinema sessions and farmhouses that’ll easily fit a family.
From toddlers upwards.
The Farmhouses, which are the largest, but also the most stylish in our humble opinion.
The hotel might not have much in the way of baby kit, but it knows how to keep kids entertained. They can ride horses and bikes, immerse themselves in the rural life on the farm (and pet the cute donkeys, pigs, goats and other residents too), play mini chef, paint the surroundings, mould in clay, or watch a movie.
There’s a dedicated shallow – though not supervised – pool for smalls.
There isn't a specific children's menu, but most of the locally sourced meals from the restaurant can be adapted for little Smiths.
No need to pack
Bring any essential kit or toys; there’s little onsite and no shops in the near vicinity.
The hotel practises a ‘circular economy’, attempting to produce all they need onsite. An impressive 70 per cent of food is sourced from the onsite kitchen garden and the rest comes from local fishermen, markets and suppliers. They compost (up to 50kg of organic matter every two days for fertilising the grounds) and recycle thoroughly (their eventual aim is to have only glass, paper and plastic trash), use solar energy and have a water-treatment station, old trees become fuel for the wood-burning stoves, and houses were built so as not to disturb the surrounding nature. On the grounds, there’s a human-free area where the animals can thrive and special initiatives are in place to protect native bats, snakes and bird species. Part of the property is set on an area of protected biodiversity too, where they’ve managed to reintroduce rare plant life. Learn more about it in the Nature Interpretation Centre. And, humans are cared for too: during the pandemic, the owner sent out pizzas to locals, the hotel’s farm is used to educate local youths, and in collaboration with Associação VilacomVida and bio-pizzeria In Bocca al Lupo, the hotel creates job opportunities for young people with autism, asperger’s and down syndrome. Plus, staff zip about using electric cars.
Flump down on one of the cushioned seats on the terrace to wait for the farmland to flood with gold light at sunset.
Farmhand, but make it fashion. The odd grass stain or mud splatter won’t cause any raised eyebrows.
This is honest-to-god straight-from-the-land fare, where you can feel the knuckles in the dough kneading, the squeeze to check for ripeness, the reeling in from the ocean. Around 70 per cent of the kitchen’s ingredients come from the farm itself, meaning the menu changes day-to-day. Dishes may tend towards the low-key ‘peasant’ fare this region’s subsisted on for centuries (a zingingly fresh tomato soup, chickpea salads, tataki, octopus, migas and stews), but chef Alexandre Silva has been recognised with a Michelin star. And, the dining room, designed by architect Tiago Silva Dias, is a stylish spot with an undulating roof and sofas and tables arranged around a warming central fireplace. Or, you could watch the sunset from the terrace, which has heavy rustic tables and low-slung couches with pillowy cushions. It’s here where you’ll smell the flame of the pizza oven – and all the delicious things being paddled out of it. More than just a delicious asset, this is a collaboration between pizzeria In Bocca al Lupo and the charity Vila Com Vida, which provides cookery skills and jobs to young people with autism, Asperger’s and down syndrome. So you’ll have a hearty and heartening feast.
The bar is part of the restaurant. Expect fine Portuguese wines (and port), homemade beers, and drams of Medronho, alongside other local spirits.
Breakfast is from 8.30am to 11am, lunch from 1pm to 3pm, dinner from 7pm to 10pm. Brunch is from 12 noon to 3pm.
Dine in your room from 8.30aam to 10pm; request menus from reception at check-in.
Craveiral Farmhouse is in rural São Teotónio, a short drive from Alentejana national parks and beaches, and 90 minutes from Faro.
The closest hub is Faro, a 90-minute drive away, from which the hotel can arrange transfers for up to three guests for €150 one way. Or fly into Lisbon, a two-and-a-half-hour trip; transfers are €250 each way.
Sabóia Santa Clara train station is a 30-minute drive from the hotel; handily there’s a direct train from Lisbon, which takes two-and-a-half hours.
This is very remote territory, so a car will be very useful if you want to explore beyond the farm. In keeping with the hotel’s green ethic, hire an electric car – there are charging points onsite.
Worth getting out of bed for
Craveiral’s houses might be an urbanite’s vision of the countryside, but make no mistake – the rest of the property is largely a tumbling, thrillingly untamed wilderness ripe for exploring. And, there are many ways to do so: perhaps by bike or mountain bike – or even quad bike – or on horseback. Staff will take you on a bumpy yet enlightening tour of the grounds and beyond in a jeep, or you can bounce from beauty spot to beauty spot on a Wim motorbike. And for the pinnacle of thrill-rides, book a hot-air-balloon trip. Come back down to Earth with a whisper not a bang, to partake in a yoga class (held once a week), pet the animals on the farm (and perhaps muck in), or get crafty in a ceramics or carving class. Born in a Dalston warehouse, now an international residency, Blank100 is a project that aims to bring contemporary local art to fresh spaces, and the hotel is one of them, so go see what’s on show. Staff can pack you a farm-fresh picnic too, or hold a tasting of Medronho, a potent fruit brandy that’s good for the digestion allegedly. Being close to the Mira River, Santa Clara Reservoir and coast, you could also take a lazy day fishing (for beginners or sport), stand-up paddleboard, or cruise along to see dolphins or the Santa Clara Dam. Surfing and diving can be arranged too; after all, the Alentejo region is a board shorts and bikinis all day kinda place, with breathtaking beaches along the Costa Vincenta: Zambujeira do Mar, Carvalhal, Almograve. And, if the hotel’s given you a taste for more of the great outdoors, set off for treks through the Sudoeste Alentejano Nature Reserve, and the mountainous greenery surrounding Monchique.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this feelgood farmstead in São Teotónio and unpacked their handmade pottery and muddy wellies, a full account of their reconnecting with nature break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Craveiral Farmhouse in Portugal…
Prepare to have your heartstrings well and truly plucked when you check in at Craveiral Farmhouse. This farm estate to the south of the beach-blessed Alentejo region is a stay that not only looks to host you warmly in mod-rustic houses showcasing contemporary Portuguese craft, let you loose on nine acres of wild land, or feed you to contentment from their kitchen gardens, but elicit emotion too. And those you’ll have, once you hear how owner Pedro Franco Pinta – a former hospitality lawyer from Lisbon – fell in love with a dilapidated carnation farm he happened upon, how he toiled for eight years to turn it into a successful farm and business he could pass on to his children, how the land and its creatures is given the utmost respect (with human no-go zones and conservation initiatives), and how Pedro truly wants this to be a benefit to the community: sending out food to the struggling during the pandemic even when there were no guests, and offering job opportunities to youths with learning disabilities. And, it’s this inherent nurturing nature that makes this such a special place to come and regroup: finding the silence in wide open wildflower-strewn spaces, sleeping with the doors open to the night air, watching storks take gracefully to the sky, and playing with pygmy goats on the farm. It’s an unprecious paradise for dogs and children too, where everyone will find something spiritually rewarding springing from the loam, and will likely leave with their hearts a little fuller.