Just when we thought life couldn’t get any mellower for travelers in Portugal, here comes Quinta da Palmeira, an airy eight-room country house in the quiet hills between Porto and Lisbon. Surrounded by orange trees and olive groves, with the peaks of the Serra do Açor just beyond, Quinta da Palmeira makes its home in a region famous for gastronomy and open-air parties known as arraiais, with song and dance as the main activities. For many travelers it will likely be just a stopover between Portugal’s main coastal cities, which is a shame, for it takes a couple days to settle into the laid-back countryside lifestyle. For those who do stick around, nature is close at hand. The woods are sprinkled with waterfall-fed pools, the rivers good for swimming and canoeing, and the mountains suited to bikers and hikers of all skill levels. The historic city of Pióadão is nearby, too, with its famous stone houses forming a picturesque jumble on the hillside. Closer by, the hotel’s pool sparkles in that particularly sparkly way that pools under the bright southern European sunlight tend to do. And long meals, needless to say, are a big part of the experience, with surprisingly refined dishes for a region that tends toward the rustic. Rooms span the range from tiny no-frills singles to sprawling apartments, though even the largest are done in a simple contemporary style that begs the question of how much one really needs for a quiet night’s rest. This, after all, is supposed to be a dose of the simple life, and a tasteful little hotel in the countryside is more than enough to provide it.
Rua Principal, 36 3305-050 Cerdeira (Arganil)
It´s the perfect stopover between Lisbon and Porto: your holiday into the laid-back countryside lifestyle. Rare to find this level of personal attention and sophistication in such a remote corner of Portugal – a treat for nature lovers and sybarites. Each room has its own personality and character but all with elegant and stylish furniture. Every detail has been taken care of.