Alentejo, Portugal

Imani Country House

Rates per night from$154.91

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR136.79), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Revitalised rural retreat

Setting

Atmospheric Alentejo

Rural estate Imani Country House may take its name from the Swahili for ‘believe’, but this seven-bedroom farmhouse specialises in serving up Portuguese hospitality in style. Located in the Alentejo, the owners know how to mix modern luxury with the laid-back atmosphere of this lesser-known region. You'll find a locavore-loving restaurant for leisurely breakfasts until noon, as well as hammocks for lazing and two swimming pools encircled by pine and cedar groves. The hotel even produces its own olive oil from century-old trees that grow around the estate – evidence, if more were needed, that this romantic retreat remains firmly rooted to the land. 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A glass of Porto wine (in winter) or fresh lemonade with mint (in summer) and late check-out, subject to availability

Facilities

Photos Imani Country House facilities

Need to know

Rooms

7, including five suites.

Check–Out

Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Call ahead if you’ll be arriving before 2pm or after 9pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $154.91 (€137), excluding tax at 6 per cent.

More details

Rates include buffet breakfast.

Also

Imani runs something of an informal wine school: ask about tastings with award-winning local producer Paulo Laureano, or head out on a guided tour of the region’s top wineries.

At the hotel

Free wifi, DVD library. In rooms: free WiFi, DVD player.

Our favourite rooms

Of Imani’s seven suites, our favourite is number seven: it’s upstairs and very spacious. Both the bedroom and living room are large, and there’s a romantic fireplace to lounge before. The best views of the surrounding countryside are from the elegant roll-top bath.

Poolside

The hotel has two small unheated pools, set in the gardens and surrounded by boulder-strewn lawns.

Spa

Choose from a menu of relaxing massages, which take place beneath a pergola overlooking the gardens.

Packing tips

If you’re a city slicker who’s always dreamt of packing it all in and running off to become a shepherd or shepherdess, now’s your chance to try it: pack your sturdiest boots and walk the hotel’s 30 acres of land until you track down the farm’s very own flock of sheep.

Also

Common areas and one of the Double Rooms are wheelchair accessible.

Children

Extra beds and cots (free for under-2s; €25 for under-12s) can be added to rooms subject to availability.

Food and Drink

Photos Imani Country House food and drink

Top Table

The most romantic spot is by the piano, furthest from the entrance.

Dress Code

Leave the heels at home: aim for farmhouse chic.

Hotel restaurant

Chef André Ramos showcases the best of the region's produce at the hotel's restaurant Improvável, with many ingredients grown on site in the organic garden and olive oil produced from a grove of century-old trees around the estate. Breakfasts are a lesiurely affair that go on until noon and lunch is a menu of light snacks and laid-back meals (salads, burgers and more). Heartier evening meals can be pre-booked every night except Mondays, for dishes such as morcela sausage with apple purée or cod and prawn paella. Award-winning vinter Paulo Laureano is on hand to suggest perfect wine pairings. 

Hotel bar

Pour yourself a drink at the honesty bar on the porch: it’s stocked with water, juices, beer and wine. The hotel also have a win shop, selling bottles sourced from small producers in the region.

Last orders

Breakfast is available from 9.30am to the leisurely hour of noon. You can book ahead for light bites until 7pm; dinners are served Fridays and Saturdays 8pm–10pm (snacks only in low season).

Location

Photos Imani Country House location
Address
Imani Country House
Quinta de Montemuro Guadalupe 7000 223
Évora
7000 223
Portugal

Planes

Touch down at Lisbon Portela Airport (www.lisbon-airport.com), roughly an hour’s drive from the hotel, which has regular flights to destinations worldwide, including London, Toronto and Newark.

Trains

The closest train station is Évora (www.cp.pt), 10 minutes from the hotel; trains from Lisbon arrive several times each day.

Automobiles

Get to Alentejo on the fast A6 motorway from Lisbon; take the Évora exit and after 800m turn right towards Guadalupe. Then, follow the big blue signs for ‘Casa de Campo’. On-site parking is free.

Worth getting out of bed for

The Alentejo region is awash with historical sites, from mediaeval castles to Roman ruins. But it’s also a top wine-producing region, so oenology obsessives will find no shortage of vineyards and wineries to explore. Nearby, the monuments of Unesco-listed Évora date back to Celtic times, but it’s the architecture from the 15th century – when Portuguese royalty moved in – that’s the star attraction. Right beside the Roman Temple of Diana, the Museu de Évora has historic and artistic exhibits charting local history. The marvellously macabre walls of Évora's Capela dos Ossos at the Igreja de São Francisco are lined with the bones of long-gone nuns and monks. The spooky inscription at the door reads: ‘Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos’… ‘We, the bones here, await yours’ (+351) 266 704 521). The Évora area has historical monuments aplenty, but the Almendres Cromlech, just outside town, is one of the most ancient: the site has one of the largest standing stone circles in Europe, thought to have been built as an observatory. The hotel can also arrange hot-air balloon rides, horse-riding excursions and boat trips on the Alqueva Dam to help you embrace the Alentejo at its rural best.  

Reviews

Photos Imani Country House reviews
Juliet Kinsman

Anonymous review

By Juliet Kinsman, On-the-go editor

Luxury – a word so overused these days, don’t you think? ‘Pass me the luxury double-chocolate Belgian biscuits, sweetheart.’ Or maybe: ‘Darling, do get some more kitchen roll – the extra-absorbent luxury range – when you’re at the supermarket.’ It’s a term that means something different to everyone – especially when it comes to travel. It once stipulated brass taps, fussy, formal service, staff in penguin tailcoats and rich over-the-top fabrics. For me, it’s something really simple. When it comes to deeming time away to be special, it means being able to close your eyes after holidaying at a certain spot and evoking a vivid recollection that inspires butterflies in the stomach and the urge to book a return trip.

So. I’m applying my lux-o-meter (patent pending) to Imani Country House, a farmhouse hotel in the Alentejo region of Portugal… Eyes are closed. The first memory that springs to mind is us lying by the perfectly circular pool in the grounds listening to the chirping of birds, the air is scented with oranges and donkeys are hee-hawing in a field beyond the sprawling, green – oh so green – lawn, with a backdrop of thick cedar forest. I scroll forward to the next slide in my mind. We’re relaxing on benches on a chequerboard terrace by the whitewashed, converted 100-year-old country house, watching our daughter swinging on the hammock. There’s no pressure to be anywhere, or do anything.

That, fellow peace-seekers, is the luxury of Imani – being surrounded by nature and detached from any of the usual trappings of life back home. Instead of the old-fashioned tropes of five-star travel there are simple, interestingly accessorised rooms (a piece of head-turning artwork here, a creative credenza there…), facing rows and rows of fruit trees. Hand-picked furnishings ensure this feels nothing like a traditional hotel – in addition to original beams and restored wooden floors you’ll spy curios such as a vintage telephone as well as a 19th-century Hornung & Møller piano. A small statue of a pig reminds us that they’re big on pork in this part of Portugal as well as delicious produce. Even the reception area is relaxed yet characterful – a little pug named Kitty was trotting around during our visit. 

This corner of Portugal, an hour’s drive from Lisbon, genuinely feels like your own little secret. The owners spent three years fashioning this rural property into a stylish boutique hotel, giving it contemporary characteristics such as concrete terraces for each ground-floor bedroom, and some of the suites have four-poster beds, others freestanding bath tubs. The result is that dream scenario: you feel like a houseguest in a stylish home rather than a customer. We were sad not to meet owners Mariana and Jose during our off-season stay, but we could feel their personal touch in the artfully arranged interiors. 

It’s sensible to suppress any desire to be a spoilt, demanding traveller who wants 24-hour room service or hi-tech facilities while staying at Imani. Low-key comfort is part of this ancient agricultural home’s deliberate charm. Here you’re invited to enjoy wood-burning fires and old-fashioned hospitality. The restaurant – more of a room that opens onto the terrace, with lots of white-clothed tables – only has a small menu; and when you tire of that, museum-city Évora, a colonnade-dotted Unesco World Heritage site dating back to Roman times, is just a 10-minute drive away. We took a recommendation of where to eat, but it doesn’t pass the closed-eyes test, and I can’t recall much about that. However, I do remember that we parked just outside the 15th-century walls and got to see a very impressive Roman temple. 

When I cast my mind back to the time we spent at Imani Country House, it’s not just flashbacks to the hotel’s most charming aspects, our romp through historical Évora or how the country air was sweetly perfumed that I appreciate – yes, the stand-out recollection is how Imani treated us to a feeling of calm in its pastoral setting, a truly rare thing. And, as the lux-o-meter’s needle swoops wildly, I have to ask, what greater luxury is there than that?

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Imani Country House’s Guestbook below.

We loved

The setting was so calm. The staff were charming and the food good. Evora was really lovely and the restaurants that were recommended did not disappoint.

Don’t expect

A Hilton it is not. Thankfully.

Rating

Stayed on 2 Oct 2017

We loved

Lovely property and very helpful and hard working staff. We wish we had the time for a longer stay! A little off the beaten path but well worth it.

Rating

Stayed on 6 Sep 2017

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