SMITH AWARDS 2018LOCAL HOTEL HERO RUNNER-UP

Alentejo, Portugal

São Lourenço do Barrocal

Rates per night from$184.47

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 (EUR160.38), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Flourishing farmstead

Setting

Age-old estate

Owned by the same family for eight generations, refurbished estate São Lourenço do Barrocal is a breath of fresh air in an old-world landscape. Set within 780 hectares of flower-carpeted meadows, olive groves and sun-soaked vineyards, these whitewashed farmhouses have been whipped back into shape, but their brick floors and pinewood furniture ensure they stay faithful to their rural soul. The design is a masterclass in simple, rustic elegance – the perfect pairing for owner José’s heartfelt hospitality, which runs as deep as the roots of the ancient holm oaks on the estate.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

Welcome tea and cake, a glass of wine or cocktail, and a tasting when visiting the winery; adults staying three nights will get a back massage too

Facilities

Photos São Lourenço do Barrocal facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Twenty-four, including two suites.

Check–Out

Noon. Earliest check-in is 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $184.47 (€160), excluding tax at 6 per cent.

More details

Rates usually include breakfast: a buffet stocked with some of the region’s best local produce, including artisanal bread, seasonal fruits, charcuterie and home-made cakes and jams.

Also

The descendant of family with a longstanding connection to Alentejo, José is passionate about supporting the local community and protecting the land. As a sign of his commitment, the estate has partnered with the Green Globe brand, whose members have to prove that they’re doing something special in the field of sustainable tourism.

At the hotel

The 780-hectare estate has meadows, vineyards, centuries-old olive groves, an orchard and walled gardens. Inside, there’s free WiFi throughout, a Susanne Kaufmann spa, a fitness studio and laundry. In rooms: free WiFi, TV, air-conditioning, a minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, tea-making facilities, free bottled water, a digital safe and Susanne Kaufmann bath products.

Our favourite rooms

We like the rooms that were once used to house the estate's farm machinery, tools and brick kiln, as they are slightly bigger than the rest (shhh). If it’s one of the cottages you’re after, we’d pick number 28 or 29 – in our opinion, they’ve got the best views.

Poolside

The family-friendly, 20-metre outdoor pool sits in a patch of fragrant meadow. A four-metre-tall granite rock is built into one corner – a tip of the hat to this ancient landscape. Instead of tiles, the pool has a dark, raw-cement finish, which helps it to blend in more naturally with the surrounding landscape. It’s flanked on one side by sun loungers with smart blue parasols.

Spa

Each treatment room at the hotel’s spa is connected to a long, whitewashed corridor with a vaulted ceiling; inside, the rooms are very minimalist – you’ll find nothing that’ll distract your mind’s eye. There’s a hydrotherapy room with a cedarwood bath tub, seperate dry saunas for men and women, a relaxation room and four treatment rooms. All the spa products are by Susanne Kaufmann. There’s also a fully-equipped fitness studio; during the summer, free fitness, yoga and Pilates classes are held here.

Packing tips

Bring something that you could ride one of the hotel's bikes or horses in. The hot air balloon ride also presents some seriously frame-worthy photo opportunities, so its worth packing your proper camera.

Also

Because of the estate's age, not all of the communal areas are wheelchair-accessible, but several of the ground-floor guest rooms are.

Pet‐friendly

Guests can have up to two pets, each weighing less than 15 kilogrammes, a room. Pets cost £75 a booking, and need be kept on a leash when outside guestrooms. They’re not allowed in the restaurant, pool, shop or spa area. See more pet-friendly hotels in Alentejo.

Children

Very welcome. Extra beds aren’t available, but there are a limited number of cots (free) which are suitable for children up to four years old. These can be added to rooms on request.

Eco‐friendly

Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, owner José is committed to living off the land; the wine, oils, olives and vegetables used at the hotel all come from the estate itself. Other ingredients are sourced locally wherever possible, minimising the hotel’s carbon footprint. São Lourenço also uses recycled products where they can, and recycle their own waste, including waste water.

Food and Drink

Photos São Lourenço do Barrocal food and drink

Top Table

If it's warm, there’s a table outside under the awning, which has a great view (and scent) of the meadow.

Dress Code

Shepherd chic. Ok, we made that one up, but it’s true there’s no need to dress up here – this is a working farm, after all.

Hotel restaurant

The hotel’s restaurant, Alentejo, has a refined rustic look, with stripped-wood tables and a timber-clad bar. On the far side of the room are a series of custom-made shelves displaying all the objects that were found when this building was cleared out – a sort of generational history told through family heirlooms. The food is focused around time-honoured dishes that let the flavours of Alentejo shine; tradition and authenticity are at the root of everything here, but the kitchen isn’t afraid of a little contemporary flair to keep things interesting. We’d recommend the partridge, which is prepared to a recipe that once belonged to José's grandmother; it's not only delicious, but also captures what this hotel is all about: the land and the family’s relationship with it.

Hotel bar

The bar is in the impressive lobby area, which has a sculptured ceiling and arched columns that create a corridor the length of the room. You’ll find the bottles and shakers at the far end of this – the light at the end of the tunnel, if you will. Like all the other rooms, it's stripped to the basics: the standout features are the elegant woodwork on the bar front and the contemporary lights that dangle overhead. Tasting the estate's own wines is obligatory, but if you’re looking for something slightly stronger, try the Quince Veltvet a slightly herbal blend of Portuguese brandy and fennel liqueur that’s a true taste of Alentejo.

Last orders

The restaurant opens for breakfast from 7.30am to 11am; for lunch from 12.30pm to 3pm; and for dinner from 7pm to 11pm. Wine flows in the bar from 12.30pm all the way through to 1am.

Room service

Room service is available between 11pm and 7.30am. The menu is focused around hearty comfort foods such as soups, sandwiches, traditional sausages and home-made cakes.

Location

Photos São Lourenço do Barrocal location
Address
São Lourenço do Barrocal
Herdade do Barrocal
Monsaraz
7200-177
Portugal

Planes

The closest airport is Lisbon; there are regular flights from the larger UK airports and closer European destinations. It takes around two hours to reach the hotel by car. Flights and transfers can be arranged with the Smith24 Team; call 24 hours a day.

Trains

Évora is the closest station; trains from Lisbon take around one hour and 45 minutes. The hotel is around 50 kilometres from the station. Transfers can be arranged with the Smith24 Team; call 24 hours a day.

Automobiles

Given the hotel’s rural location and the miles of Alentejo plains to explore, hiring a car makes a lot of sense. Most of the major rental firms are available at Lisbon airport. Car hire can be arranged with the Smith24 team; call 24 hours a day. The hotel has plenty of free, open-air parking spaces.

Worth getting out of bed for

The sprawling estate runs alongside Lake Alqueva, a 250sq kilometre man-made lake with around 440 verdant islands. The hotel has painstakingly identified many of the best walking routes that run alongside it – ask the concierge for one that suits you. Just a few kilometres up the road is the Castelo de Monsaraz; you’ll get a panoramic view from the lake-surveying ramparts. Boat trips and watersports are also available, and can be arranged with the Smith24 Team; call 24 hours a day. Die-hard day-trippers will delight in the news that the estate is only 10 kilometres from Spain. With this region being so famous for Jabugo ham (black-pig ham), a border-hopping trip for tapas seems in order. For something really memorable, book a hot-air balloon ride high over the Alentejo. You’ll take off from the estate at dawn, rising over the monte itself, before crossing the lake and the tree-clad fields of the wider estate. The balloons can take up to 12 people at once; little Smiths aged six and above can come along for the ride.

Local restaurants

Restaurante Sem Fim, which has taken up residence in a historic olive press, is a 10-minute drive. The large pressing machines still stand in the middle of the room, making a great centrepiece. It’s a very traditional place, with dishes that celebrate the region’s flavours. On weekends, the bar and restaurant are abuzz with local chatter, proving this relic of bygone days is still a vital part of the community. Restaurante Taberna Al~Andaluz is another local option, around five minutes away by car. This small, two-room restaurant is owned by José Morgado, a real epicurean and a man ever delighted to share his knowledge of the region’s food and wine. Try the lamb stew, which is a specialty here.

Reviews

Photos São Lourenço do Barrocal reviews
Georgia Hopkins

Anonymous review

By Georgia Hopkins, Travel guru

It’s not hard to fall in love with Alentejo. Here, you find yourself surrounded by ancient oaks, olive groves, vineyards and endless cork trees. There is a special kind of peace.

Driving up a long, cork tree-lined driveway, marked only be a simple sign on the main highway, we arrive at São Lourenço do Barrocal and fall in love all over again.

It’s a place, like so many others in this region, brimming with history and magical stories. José António, its young founder, is the eighth generation of his family to live at São Lourenço do Barrocal over the past 200 years. When José was just 26 he quit his finance job in London and moved back to the 780-hectare estate with a vision – to spend two years living on the then-abandoned estate to begin to understand the property, the land, the soil, the seasons…

He lived alone in what is now the tiny pool-house. A couple of years later he enlisted Pritzker Prize-winning Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura and together they set about making his dream to rejuvenate the family estate into a reality. It took 14 painstaking years.

This former farming village is now one of the most beautiful, peaceful and welcoming accommodation experiences you’ll ever find. The interiors are so dreamy and so instantly calming. Anahory Almeida, a pair of incredible Lisbon-based interior designers (one of whom happens to be José’s wife), seem to get it right every time. A beautiful pale-ish green is used throughout – it’s so fresh but so warm at the same time.

Most of the wooden furniture is handcrafted by local artisans, every little interior detail thoughtfully considered, and old family traditions and mementos honoured in frames or on shelves.

The Susanne Kaufmann Spa has some of the biggest treatment rooms I’ve ever seen, all of which come off a striking single-vaulted 40m aisle. I settle in for a long soak in the beautiful round cedarwood bathtub and follow up with one of the most luxurious facials – I hadn't heard of Susanne Kaufmann before this but trust me when I say her all-natural, organic skincare line is quite heavenly.

There is horse-riding for those who fancy getting out into the surrounding nature. You can even ride all the way up to the nearby hilltop medieval town of Monsaraz. (Tip: while there, stop in and meet Mizette Nielsen at her rug shop. She’s quite the character.) The horse stables themselves are also an architectural delight.

The beautiful thing, though, is that you don’t need – or want – to do much at all. Its beauty lies in the perfect simplicity and the calm of the surrounds. We took some time to relax by the pool and learn that another one is soon set to open.

The restaurant, which serves seasonal produce mostly grown on their own grounds, is as impressive as any big city one. Even their own São Lourenço do Barrocal wines are served. The extremely friendly staff all hail from local villages and not one of them had any hotel experience before taking the job at Barrocal, yet their professionalism and love for what they do is so obvious. Even a couple of former matadores and bandarilheiros now work as waiters, having previously only known the inside of a bull ring. I love watching the way they stand to attention at the table while taking your order, still signs of the formality of being in the ring. It’s incredible.

Everything just comes together so perfectly here. The light, the trees, the architecture, the design, the friendly staff, the food, the spa… And all under the watch of one of the most lovely and professional hotel managers I have ever met, Ana Faustino, who keeps this very special place running as beautifully and perfectly as it does.

It is one of life’s greatest pleasures to spend some days here. I recommend adding São Lourenço do Barrocal to the top of your wishlist immediately.

 

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 São Lourenço do Barrocal’s Guestbook below.

We loved

Our cottage, the grounds, the spa and the bar. Loved the clean and spacious sitting area in our cottage as well as the courtyard access. Very calming and peaceful. The spa experience was lovely. The grounds are absolutely gorgeous and the building complex itself is beautifully restored by one of Portugal's best and most well known architects. Our stay was too short. We will surely go back.

Don’t expect

High luxury: the luxury is in the simplicity of everything.

Rating

Stayed on 31 Aug 2018

We loved

The architecture, the land, the light, the stars, the quietness, the wine, the food, the views, the sourroundings, the pool. What can I say, this an idilic place, managed with taste.

Don’t expect

A happening place with all night cool parties.

Rating

Stayed on 6 Aug 2018

We loved

A beautifully restored wine estate with a spa and working gardens. Stay for the peace and quiet, but more importantly the food. If you're lucky, a jazz band will accompany your meal under the stars. Nearby, the hill town of Monsaraz is a must.

Don’t expect

Party nights.

Rating

Stayed on 14 Jul 2018

We loved

We cannot recommend Sao Lourenco do Barrocal enough. We absolutely loved our stay here. Sao Lourenco is a huge and peaceful estate in the middle of the countryside. It is gorgeously designed and decorated being a restored estate that is over 200 years old. There are so many different activities and in general we felt like the service and quality of the hotel was absolutely wonderful. You can go on hikes, there are free bikes for you to use, a gorgeous pool, a spa, and constant bird song. Food was delicious, I highly recommend eating at the hotel as much as possible. We also did the wine tasting they offer and that was an enjoyable experience. One of our favorite hotels that we've ever been to. 

Rating

Stayed on 2 Jul 2018

We loved

Loved everything! The rooms are fantastic and dramatically understated in luxury. Love the whole color palette - I wish I could paint my house the same. The estate is vast but it seems like every square meter has some little design surprise and special touch. Every nook, every cranny. The food in the restaurants was fantastic and loved sitting outside every night. I especially liked going for long walks around their trail system, one is even 7km. I had a blast trying to find my perfect tree in all the golden grass... still trying to decide. The pool is fantastic for an after-activity spritz and dip. Definitely do the balloon sunrise ride - one of the coolest things I've done. Definitely try to pre-book as much as you can, they have limited availability of horses and the balloon ride is very popular. Monsaraz is cool, but don't go on a Monday, almost everything in the hill town is closed. Try to shoot for sunrise or sunset for the best light. Can't wait to come back!

Don’t expect

It's a mellow place to get away from things, everything is mellow - just what I like.

Rating

Stayed on 1 Jul 2018

We loved

The pool really is wonderful. We were there for a week and never struggled to get loungers - in fact, the pool was inexplicably empty until about 11am most days, so we generally had our pick of things and were greeted each day with clean towels, refreshing towelettes and prompt service. They're in the midst of building a second kids family pool about 30 metres from the main one which will be a welcome addition for those busier days. The hotel generally is gorgeous; it was three days before we felt any drive to leave the compound and explore the local area, such was the amount to do and see on site - some nice trails to run or walk from the door of the rooms, two restaurants on site with a third opening in the high season, the spa and fitness suite, and horse-riding. The spa and fitness suite is also fantastic. I had the run of the fitness suite in particular to myself all week, which made for some peaceful solo yoga sessions. We treated ourselves to a couple of massages which were excellent. Our farmhouse room was incredible - huge for the price with an entrance foyer/cloakroom, a massive double sink bathroom, and a huge living space/bedroom complete with the the biggest bed I have ever slept in. Lots of lovely little touches - fresh biscuits every afternoon, handwritten weather forecasts delivered each day, housekeeping folding down the beds and closing the blinds while you're out at dinner. We felt extremely well treated throughout our stay. A visit to the new beach centre at Lake Alqueva is definitely worth a trip; a little bit manufactured, but it was lovely to get some longer swims in. Monsaraz itself is certainly worth a visit - you can walk every street (all four of them) and the castle in an hour, before having a great value dinner at Sabores de Monsaraz.

Don’t expect

Late night partying or a great deal of socialising with other guests; lots of honeymoons and pre-baby holidays, a few families and a few older couples and groups with most people keeping to themselves. Which was perfect for us!

Rating

Stayed on 24 Jun 2018

We loved

Hearing the fascinating history of the farm and seeing the results of the impeccable attention to detail the owner took in the decade-plus restoration of the original property is in itself worth the visit. We can't recall the numbers we were offered, but there are thousands of locally hand-made bricks laid into floor, thousands of restored roof tiles cover the structures, family photos and heirlooms adorn walls and tables throughout, furnishings are traditional, some made locally, others selected to support the authenticity of its long history. The rooms are simple and elegant, cobbled walkways offer views to old silos, pastures, vineyards, a nearby village complete with castle atop the hill. We took all of our meals on site during our stay and every meal was delicious. From the breakfast buffet burgeoning with fresh fruit, bread, pastries and fresh made juice, local eggs cooked to order to both traditional and more modern variations on Portuguese fare, we enjoyed every bite. And don't skip a single opportunity for dessert and the cake of the day. Staff were knowledgable, friendly, helpful, accommodating. Our wine tour and tasting on property was delightful and informative. My massage in the simple and elegant spa was top notch.

Don’t expect

While there are lovely, quiet spaces on the property, don't expect peace and quiet or an adult experience at meals or at the pool. We were one of few child-free couples during our stay. This is a big family sort of place. We heard multiple complaints made by the other childless couples present while we were there and made one ourselves, as we had three children kicking a soccer ball around the outdoor dining space and running around and under tables during dinner- and this was the general vibe at meal times. We had the opportunity to speak with the owner, who was onsite during our stay. They do plan to create an "adults only" swimming pool, which will be fantastic, as the kids-only swimming pool rather missed the mark of what is needed. This will be a welcome addition to a truly special place. An adults-only dining area would also be a good consideration.

Rating

Stayed on 7 Jun 2018

We loved

We loved everything with this place. The staff is genuinely service minded in a personal and humble way. The rooms are perfect in every aspect. The design is genuine but contemporary and everything done with a high sense of quality. We stayed in a farm room which had a very good size and both shower and a bathtub. We checked out winery room and it is slightly smaller and also located a bit further away from the reception and facilities. The breakfast is one of the best we ever had and the restaurant is a great place to start (or end) the day in front of the fireplace. The spa area is very nice and the gym with a view overlooking the fields is great. During our stay it was quite cool outside, around 15 degrees so we could not experience the outdoor pool area but it looks great with a small bar next to it. There is also great jogging and walking trails starting directly at the footstep. Also, do not forget to check out the store with a selection of the items produced at the farm like olive oil and wine. Also many of the items that the rooms are decorated and furnished with are sold here. Many winerys around the area are great for visiting. We can recommend Esporao that also has a great restaurant. Also visit Monsaraz.

Don’t expect

This is a place for relaxing, definitely not a party place. It is also good for families so expect a mix of couples of all ages and families with kids.

Rating

Stayed on 7 Apr 2018

We loved

Everything about this hotel was exceptional, right from checking in until the moment we departed. The style is laid back but stylish so you would feel right at home in a comfy chunky knit jumper and hunter wellies (winter weather permitted of course). We loved the service, the spa, the beautiful historic setting and the fusion of classic, regional cooking with a boutique design twist. You should definitely visit the ancient city of Monsaraz, which has ancient city walls and boutique, hand-made shops in which you can pick up local goods such as hand-knitted wool throws and locally grown and pressed olive oil. The views are also incredible! Also, this area is one of very few 'dark-sky' nature reserves. At night, take part in some local stargazing from the astronomy centre – we saw some awesome things!

Don’t expect

Lively nights, clubs or partying. The bar and restaurant stay open quite late though and the wine never stops flowing.

Rating

Stayed on 30 Nov 2017

We loved

The spacious rooms with fabulous views and the coffee machine! Big skies at night to watch with a nice drink on the terrace.

Don’t expect

Noise – except for the birds and the sound of silence.

Rating

Stayed on 16 Oct 2017

We loved

The estate (and the bikes to ride around), the rooms and the restaurant. 

Don’t expect

Lively nights.

Rating

Stayed on 8 Oct 2017

We loved

Peace and quiet. All we could hear were the birds and the leaves. If you are a food enthusiast, you'll find excellent food everywhere from the local tradicional tascas (taverns) of alentejo, to the herdades (farms) that produce olive oil. The hotel gave us a booklet of suggestions outside and they were amazing!!

Rating

Stayed on 22 Jul 2017