If you are headed to the northern part of Alentejo (Alto Alentejo) and looking for luxury accommodation, your best bet to stay is the absolutely gorgeous Torre de Palma Wine Hotel.
This privately owned and managed small hotel is located close to the small town of Monforte, about two hours from Lisbon, in the midst of endless vineyards, olive groves and open plains as far as you can see.
Part of the prestigious and exclusive Design Hotels group, Torre de Palma is a beautiful example of the group’s main values: A passion for genuine, culturally rooted hospitality and cutting-edge design and architecture. All this combined with the feeling of complete authenticity as you immerse yourself in the traditional rural lifestyle of the magnificent, unspoiled Alentejo.
The land of Torre de Palma Wine Hotel was once home to a leading Roman family, the Basilii. It’s believed it was this family who started to produce wine and olive oil here as early as the 5th century, along with breeding horses at an estate which in 1338 was part of the Crown of Portugal.
In case passing the many vineyards before arriving at the impressive wrought iron gate did not stir your wine tasting appetite, by entering the reception you will be immediately reminded that your stay at Torre de Palma is build around wine.
Dating back to the early parts of the 14th century, the old manor house that revolves around the prominent ancient tower in 2014 has been perfectly restored by celebrated architect Joao Mendes Ribeiro, who converted the whole complex into one of the most gorgeous little design hotels I’ve ever seen.
The facade of the main building is very typical for the region, whitewashed with yellow edging.
Inside, the hotel’s common areas are stuffed with a mixture of exquisite antique and contemporary furnishings and quirky design elements.
Before settling down, however, climb the stairs to the top of the tower. From here, you will have the most amazing views over the surrounding landscape.
On the way up, you will pass the ‘science room’ dominated by a dinosaur skeleton, a black board and many vintages flasks and mugs.
Clustered around the manor house are several ranch-style low-rise buildings that host most of the hotel’s 19 rooms.
All rooms are individually designed and filled with beautiful antiques, large comfy beds and modern amenities like a large (hidden) flat screen TV, fast WiFi, and a well stuffed mini bar.
As said before, wine is a central part of the experience, including vineyard tours, grape picking, wine tastings, and tours of the wine cellar. Indeed, Torre de Palma is still part working farm producing its own wines and olive oil.
Don’t leave without a proper wine tasting which you can book in the cellar building or the absolutely gorgeous wine bar.
If your mood is not on wine tasting (or you’ve done this already) the list of other activities is huge, including agriculture workshops, horse riding, hot air ballooning, falconry, bird watching, walking tours and cooking classes.
There is also a beautiful pool overlooking the surrounding vines and olive trees; and in case the weather is not at its best, a small indoor pool area.
Another highlight of our stay at Torre de Palma was Basilii restaurant (named after the founding family indeed).
The menu is composed of modern interpretations of traditional Portuguese and Alentejo cuisine and includes local stables such as regional sausages, sweet potatoes and off course the famous black pork.
In the morning, breakfast is served at Basilii too. Though it includes a hot breakfast coming directly out of the kitchen, local hams and cheeses, fresh fruit and a large selection of cereals, I couldn’t help but going all in for the wonderful pastries, including the Portuguese favourite, the absolutely delicious Pasteis de Nata.
I had the most wonderful time at Torre de Palma Wine Hotel, indulging in one of the best wine and food experiences I’ve ever experienced.