In the Cima Corgo wine region of the Douro Valley, Quinta Nova de Nossa Sonhora do Carmo hotel and winery sits on its own hilltop on a 120-hectare vineyard estate – and goes a step further than simply pleasing fans of a Portuguese red. Sure, people come for the wines but also to learn how they’re produced and to absorb the history of the estate. Connecting with the landscape here is vital – seeing the grape on the vine then swilling the end product with a view of the valley is what it’s all about. Throw in some of the Douro region’s finest food, and you’ve got the full-bodied experience. Premium rooms in the main house lean towards more classic Portuguese styling, and Superior Terrace rooms, decked out in wine-blushed tones, have tranquil terraces just steps away from the vineyards.
11 all, six in the main part of the manor house, and five more with terraces and vineyard access.
12pm, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £136.33 (€158), including tax at 6 per cent.
Rates include a traditional Portuguese breakfast with fruit, preserves, homemade pastries, garden-fresh fruit juice, and eggs cooked to your liking.
Take some time to visit the estate’s little chapel, built in 1795 to protect sailors navigating a tricky section of the river below. Inside, you can visit the statue the men prayed to: a granite effigy of Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Mount Carmel).
The hotel and restaurant close from 23 to 27 December. The wine tours and facilities are unavailable between 23 and 27 December and also on 1 January.
At the hotel
Wine museum, wine shop and tasting room, wine cellar, board games available in the bar, free WiFi. In rooms: Free WiFi, tea and coffee-making facilities, complimentary still and sparkling water, plant-based 8950 toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Premium rooms in the heart of the hotel are refined in feel and elegantly furnished, but we’re plumping for one of the comfy Superior Terrace rooms for that extra whiff of adventure. Decked out in subtle pinks, reds and purples, these rooms have direct access to the vineyards, giving you a keener connection with that awe-inspiring landscape outside. Each comes with its own terrace, set with comfortable seating from which to make the most of the river and valley vistas from sun up to sun down – prepare jaws for a genuine floor drop.
The outdoor pool might be the most panoramic in Portugal, with views over the vine-strung terraces and neighbouring hills.
Swimwear for the outdoor pool, sturdy shoes for hiking the vineyard trails and the latest edition of Hugh Johnson's pocket wine book to guide you on your vinous journey.
One of the superior terrace rooms is wheelchair accessible.
The hotel doesn’t specifically cater to children, but under-fives can stay for free, and five to 12-year-olds stay for the price of an extra bed in the room.
First-class local suppliers – the closer the better – are chosen to reduce transportation distance and environmental impact. The restaurant is a member of the Slow Food movement, sourcing seasonal ingredients from the region, supplemented by fruit, vegetables and herbs fresh from the garden. And, of course, there’s the wine that couldn’t be more local, with grapes grown just outside and processed in the onsite winery. The vineyard itself is a place where heritage Portuguese vine varieties are lovingly preserved. Several kilometres of walking paths and signage have been installed around the estate so guests can fully enjoy the setting while learning about the grapes, the biodiversity of the site, and the production process for the dreamy whites, reds, rosés or ports they will later clink together up on the valley-view terrace. Half of the proceeds from a selection of the vintage bottles in the wine cellar go straight to a Quinta Nova-founded organisation that supports the education of children and young people in the Douro Valley.
The best table is without doubt a terrace table. Sit beneath the old curling vine and raise a glass or five to that remarkable scenery.
Think unfussy LBD or casual linen.
At Terraçu’s Winery Restaurant, chef André Carvalho has worked alongside winemaker Jorge Alves to create a fine dining menu that celebrates the best seasonal offerings of the Douro region. There’s an à la carte list of delicately balanced dishes – special nods go to the free-range chicken stuffed with pistachio, truffle and mushrooms, and the cod confit with truffled mashed potato. There’s also a highly recommended three or five-course tasting menu: the diner picks the dishes, which are then paired with wines from the winery. The interior dining room is a classic, table-clothed affair, a fitting tribute to this historic family residence, with a view out to the more romantic terrace dining space.
Sample wines by the glass or the bottle in the Aeternus bar, which is well stocked with Douro reds, whites, rosés and ports, or invent an occasion worthy of a vintage bottle from the cellar. Each year a selection of these special wines are earmarked to benefit the Bagos D'Ouro Association, founded by the hotel to support the education of children and young people in the region. Buying a bottle gives the doubly warm fuzzy feeling of a heritage wine in the belly and the knowledge that 50 per cent of the purchase price is going back into the community. Also consider adding a Portonic (port and tonic) cocktail to your tab – it’s a firm favourite here.
Breakfast is served from 8.30am to 10.30am, lunch from 12.30pm to 3pm and dinner from 7.30pm to 10pm.
For in-room dining there’s a menu of lighter meals, or you can order from the standard â la carte restaurant menu.
The Quinta Nova estate sits on a hill overlooking centuries-old vine terraces, the Douro Valley and the broad curves of its famous river.
The nearest airport is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto, around an hour and 40 minutes’ drive from the estate.
Use the Douro railway line for a scenic chug along the river past vine-clad hills and alight at Ferrão station – you can book a free transfer to the hotel from here.
It’s around an hour and 40 minutes’ drive from Porto and around four hours’ drive from Lisbon. After the winding climb up to Quinta Nova, park up and head straight to the terrace for your reward: fresh air and a welcome glass of the estate’s finest, with a view that doesn’t disappoint.
Arrive by boat at the quay, which is just five minutes away, and hop onto your free hotel transfer. Or, make a more dramatic entrance using the helipad.
Worth getting out of bed for
The estate itself has enough activities to keep you entertained for days on end. Try lazy wine-tasting sessions bolstered by high-end tapas from the house chef, take a wine tour to find out about the production process from start to fruity finish, or view the collection of vintage port-making paraphernalia and bone up on traditional production methods at the onsite wine museum. Summon your inner vintner on the ‘Winemaker for a day’ experience, where you can bottle, cork and label your own wine to take home (or ditch the endurance test and just crack it open – no one’s judging), or take to the vines themselves for a grape harvest. Grab a water bottle and your walking boots, plus a free map from reception, and stride out for a self-guided tour of the estate trails. Alternatively, opt for a laidback tour of the scenic Douro River by boat.
You’d be forgiven for not wanting to stray from the gastronomic heaven of Quinta Nova cuisine. But if you do venture out, you’ll want to make a reservation at DOC restaurant, domain of chef Rui Paula, to try the impeccable seasonal meat, fish and seafood dishes. Grab a table on the suspended riverside terrace and gaze across the boat-studded water to the white-fronted dwellings of local villages and dramatic green slopes behind.
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 wine-lover’s haven overlooking the Douro River and unpacked the bottles they proudly corked and labelled themselves, a full account of their gourmet break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Quinta Nova de Nossa Sonhora do Carmo in the Douro Valley…
Fine wines, fine foods, a sense of immediate calm – it’s all here, but it’s the cinema of the landscape that gives this place its unmistakable allure. This is the Quinta Nova estate, home to a winery, traditional Portuguese manor house, ancient cypresses and orderly vine terraces, and a view that’s almost too easy on the eye. With just 11 guest rooms, this place offers the sort of peacefulness that’s a holy grail in the hotel business. What’s more, all of them have a front-row seat for the region’s spectacular sunrises – a reviving sight after a night of tasting the estate’s finest grape juices. This is a true gourmet destination, marrying the fruits and flavours of the land and serving them up with views of that very same terrain. Follow the eight kilometres of paths around the neat vine rows, both for the exercise and the edification, before heading back up the hill to slip into the pool. Mooch around the wine museum, cork and label your own souvenir bottle or take a gentle river boat tour, before sinking into bed to prepare for the spectacle of that Douro dawn breaking in the morning.
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