Stepping into Salvaterra Country House & Spa, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been whisked away to a Moroccan riad or a Balinese bale, such is the allure of its tropical gardens and nature-inspired decor. Perfectly at ease in Portugal’s rural Ribatejo region, this luxe bolthole promises serenity and seclusion in just the right doses. Party people may want to abstain: the mood here is more suited to peace-seekers than social butterflies, whether you’re indulging in pool-and-spa sessions or leaning into your suite’s luxe soporific vibes. That’s not to say a stay at Salvaterra will be low on high jinx: tour the vineyards, hit the region’s gourmet spots and tame the local stallions, then retire to your jungle hideaway with something scrumptiously strong from the honesty bar.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of exclusive Ribatejo red wine or two welcome cocktails; a fruit platter; and 10 per cent off massage treatments.
Double rooms from £125.52 (€140), including tax at 6 per cent.
Rates usually include a daily breakfast.
Take a moment for a meditative stop by the hotel’s koi pond and see if you can spot the turtles that have been in the owner’s family since childhood.
The hotel closes annually from 23 December to 27 January for a refresh.
At the hotel
Spa, outdoor kitchen with barbecue, fire pit, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: organic cotton kimonos, smart TV, Nespresso machine, kettle, Dammann Frères tea, minibar with milk and bottled water, Meraki bath products.
Our favourite rooms
There’s a hint of Bali in the suites’ bamboo ceilings, net-draped beds and rattan furniture, though bespoke tiles and terracotta floors keep the decor firmly anchored in the Mediterranean. In winter, a fireplace calls for slow mornings in bed; in summer, French doors open onto private terraces and dense tropical foliage. Suite 3 steals the show with its in-room bath tub overlooking the gardens; for demure sunseekers, Suite 4 comes with its own set of sunloungers for lizarding away from prying eyes.
Ensconced in a jungle of bamboo, palm and banana trees, Salvaterra’s pool wouldn’t look out of place in the tropical paintings of Henri Rousseau. The water is cleaned through a unique chemical-free system that’s kind on the skin and eyes; after a refreshing dip, linger on one of the parasol-shaded sunloungers, or sprawl on the enticing day-bed.
The poolside spa houses a sauna and a Turkish bath for aromatherapy steam sessions. Expert therapists can tailor in-room massages to your needs, from soul-soothing strokes to deeper pressure treatments. Don’t miss a starlit soak in the Dutch hot tub, set in the gardens and heated with firewood.
Bring riding boots for a horseback tour of the nearby Lagoalva estate, where hacking trails meander through vineyards and ancient olive groves.
You’ll find a straw hat and bag in your suite for days by the pool, and a lemongrass and rose bath bomb for a sweet-scented soak at the end of the day.
Welcome, though the hotel caters better to babies than older children. Staff will happily provide a crib, towels, bibs, and a bottle warmer for little ones.
This conscious country house can’t be faulted on its environmental efforts: it produces almost all the energy it uses, thanks to its own solar field. A state-of-the-art system makes the most of gardening and grey water, single-use toiletries have been swapped for refillable glass bottles and the hotel purposefully chooses recycled products, local materials and organic produce where possible.
For a romantic tête-a-tête, head to the fire pit with a bottle of local vinho tinto.
Billowy kaftans will strike the right note if you’re idling poolside; for evenings at the honesty bar, channel Tom Cruise’s mixologist days with floral shirts and plenty of swagger.
There’s no restaurant as such, though if you stock up on local produce at the nearby supermarket, the outdoor kitchen has everything needed for a grill-it-yourself barbecued lunch under its thatched roof. From April to November, breakfast is delivered in a hamper to be pilfered at leisure on your private terrace; in the colder months, it’s best enjoyed in bed in front of a roaring fire.
Expert muddler or novice shaker-not-stirrer? The well-stocked honesty bar has all the spirits, syrups, spices and mixology manuals needed for a tipple or three. If that all sounds like too much effort, a sip of tawny or vintage port never goes amiss.
Help yourself from the honesty bar around the clock.
Perfectly poised halfway between Porto and the Algarve – and within easy reach of Lisbon – Salvaterra has bags of rural charm.
Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport is the best place to touch down. From there, it’s an easy 40-minute drive to the hotel.
Ribatejo’s pine forests, rice fields and rolling vineyards make bringing your own wheels worthwhile.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’d be no shame in staying put at Salvaterra Country House – padding from the pool to the steam room to the wood-fired hot tub, say, or wielding mighty tongs in the al fresco kitchen – but Ribatejo is a region worth exploring. The placid Tagus meanders through this green and fertile land before reaching Lisbon’s pastel-hued hills and Atlantic beaches. Hop on a boat for a river safari, or visit the Tagus Estuary Birdwatching and Conservation Area to spot some of Portugal’s finest feathery specimens. Lusitano stallions are bred here; if you’d rather swap riding boots for oars, the hotel has free kayaks and paddle boards to take to the nearby reservoir. Ribatejo is rightly proud of its rich heritage: book a tasting at a local vineyard, catch training demos at Salvaterra’s Royal Falconry or head to nearby Santarém for an amble around its cobbled streets and imposing Gothic churches.
You’ll need a set of wheels for a chance to sample the best of Ribatejo’s outstanding produce. A 15 minute drive away in Almeirim, Cisco rustles up traditional fare with flair. Look out for the dish of the day, such as arroz de pato (duck rice), crispy whitebait or the humble but moreish peas with poached egg. Keep an eye out for Taberna Ó Balcão, where chef Rodrigo Castelo’s inventive cuisine has earned the restaurant a Bib Gourmand. Should you rather stay put, a handful of local restaurants deliver to the hotel: try Zé da Marretta for hearty seafood stews cooked in a cataplana, or Al’Kawa for platters of expertly rolled sushi.
10 minutes away in Benavente, Terrace Lounge is just the ticket for an al fresco feast of small plates (croquettes, garlicky gambas) and sangria. Closer to home, Restaurante Tira Picos’s old-school charms won’t break the bank; try the fried eels, a specialty of the region.
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 countryside hotel in Ribatejo and unpacked their binoculars and fine wines, a full account of their rural break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Salvaterra Country House & Spa in Portugal…
Just 40 minutes from Lisbon, Salvaterra Country House & Spa feels a world away from the cosmopolitan streets of Portugal’s capital. Cobblestones make way for terracotta tiles and pathways snaking through luxuriant tropical gardens – more than 185 botanical species thrive here under Ribatejo’s glorious sun. Once you’ve taken your bearings (a few minutes by the koi pond does wonders to tune in to the hotel’s serene spirit), a luxurious suite awaits. There are just eight at this rural estate, each a celebration of all things bright and natural: expect bamboo ceilings, pearlescent tiled headboards, of-the-moment rattan furniture and diaphanous bed nets swaying in the breeze. Fertile, rural Ribatejo is rightly proud of its produce and tipples; they’re best sampled in the region’s eateries and wineries, though you could always order in or commandeer Salvaterra’s outdoor kitchen and barbecue. No country house worth its salt would let guests linger without a day or two of active pursuits. Book a river safari, slip on riding boots for hacks around the vineyards, or borrow kayaks and paddle boards for a splash around the nearby reservoir… A picker-upper from Salvaterra’s well-stocked honesty bar will taste all the sweeter for it.
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