Our favourite Pousadas
When it came to choosing our favourite Paradors previously, the hardest part was determining the criteria with which we could have a fair and useful attempt at selecting our favourite Pousada. After much debate, we went with our hearts and each of us chose the Pousada that appealed to us most.
Therefore we have decided to share with you our preferences, which we believe at the same time truly embody the essence of what a Pousada is.
Porto - Nicola's choice
"For a very special stay in a beautiful location"
The Pousada de Porto is a very special property. The palace is beautiful and the original decorative elements still remain throughout, transporting you back to the 18th century. I highly recommend the restaurant – both breakfast and dinner were delicious and very well presented. Even though the rooms are located in a separate building, they are well connected, very comfortable and spacious and have all the amenities you require (for river views, make sure to book a superior room!) One of the most attractive elements of this Pousada is the location and the views. Being situated right on the Douro creates an incredibly peaceful atmosphere; in the warmer months the infinity pool and the jetty are the ideal places to relax and take in the stunning surrounding views. The terraces are also great places to enjoy a drink in the evening.
Porto itself, of course, is a huge attraction for this Pousada. The city is only a few minutes drive away and has a fantastic atmosphere. Whether you go to visit the famous port cellars or the cathedral, the riverfront or the old town - this is a city with so much to see - or simply to sample a taste of a traditional Portuguese city, Porto is a beautiful spot with incredible scenery and plenty to offer its visitors.
I was so impressed with this Pousada, to me it offers that something extra and is definitely my number one choice for a special occasion.
Faro (Estoi) - Gary's recommendation
"Beautiful, relaxing, and a successful blend of historic and contemporary design"
The views from the terrace, pool and gardens - just spectacular! I love the blend of the colourful palace and gardens with the contemporary extension which is carefully designed to avoid clashing with the general feel of the grounds and the strong identity of the original historic building alongside. Whose exterior is so pink that even Barbara Cartland would swoon (yet this is an original colour associated with the Portuguese royalty and popular across Portugal)!
This Pousada is a marriage of old and new, the authentic palace with its tea pavilions - a wonderful reminder of Portugal's legacy of global discoveries - fountains and gardens, its converted kitchens and salons, contrasting with the comfortable bedrooms in the modern wing. My wee son was treated like a VIP from the moment he entered the main door and looked in wonderment at the reception area and the staff who fought keenly to amuse him, whilst we were parched and grateful for a quiet drink on the terrace whilst we took in the views.
My regret - we didn't stay here, we were passing through. But I WILL be staying here and I thoroughly recommend this Pousada, either as a perfect winter escape or as a great place to stay to enjoy the Algarve away from the hustle and bustle you can find west of Faro at any time of the year. With great beaches along the coast, the sand bar and nature reserve, and fewer visitors to this section of coastline, here you can enjoy a tremendous ''Mediterranean'' break on a warm Atlantic shore.
Obidos – Andrea’s favourite
"A truly medieval experience"
It is difficult not to be blown away by this stunning castle on the approach to the Pousada de Obidos. I am a history buff myself, and I could not believe how well the Pousada and the medieval town had been preserved.
Obidos is known as one of the '7 Wonders of Portugal' and it is easy to see why. The castellated walls run along the border of the town, whilst the castle sits proudly atop the beautiful village. A wander through the village is a must as you cannot help but admire the well-conserved medieval architecture throughout Obidos.
The castle's rooms are beautiful and offer a truly royal stay, but I was enamoured with the colourful ‘cottage’ rooms which occupy the former servants' quarters. Each room is decorated stylishly and named after a member of royalty, a novel concept that differs from traditional hotel room numbers. There are so many historical artefacts scattered throughout the hotel and there is something new to find around each corner. The restaurant has breath-taking views across the countryside below and also looks out onto the lovely medieval courtyard, creating a romantic atmosphere.
I also love the fact that the entire town puts on an annual (and very popular) medieval fair where everyone dresses in typical attire and there is a large feast in the castle’s courtyard. This is a great choice for those looking for a truly unique stay in somewhere of great historical significance.
Viseu - Warren's top pick
"Comfortable, relaxing, and a chance to explore a true Portuguese town"
The Pousada de Viseu is an incredibly stylish and elegant restoration of the 18th century building which once housed the São Teotónio Hospital. The architecture of the building’s exterior is very impressive as you approach and stepping inside the building one is struck by the peace and serenity. The centre-piece of the hotel is the large interior courtyard, flanked by cloisters, which makes a superbly atmospheric setting for an evening meal, or even a just a few cocktails. Despite not being a smoker myself I was also intrigued by the hotel’s cigar room, where one can enjoy a nice glass of brandy with a cigar or two.
Stylishly renovated, complete with modern touches, this Pousada is the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing in comfort. There is a seasonal outdoor swimming pool which is great for summer time while guests also have complimentary access to the spa facilities so why not unwind in the sauna and then treat oneself to a massage.
Viseu is a charming city well worth visiting and it is just a ninety minute drive from Porto. The old town’s cobbled streets are a short walk from the Pousada and I recommend heading towards the cathedral and perhaps popping in to the Grão Vasco Museum, named after one of Portugal’s great renaissance painters, Vasco Fernandes. The town has numerous cafés, bars and restaurants meaning you will not be short on dining options outside the Pousada too.
From Viseu it is a leisurely drive up to the Serra da Estrela national park where you will encounter spectacular mountain scenery and if you needed just one more reason to visit Viseu, then perhaps the excellent Dão wines produced in this region of Portugal might just tempt you.
Tavira - Sandrine's "perfect Pousada"
"A really charming, comfortable hotel with lots to do nearby."
Tavira was recommended to me by so many clients that I had to see it for myself, and I am delighted to say that nobody was lying about this little gem of a city and the attraction of its vicinity. Tavira is a charming, small city crested with a castle, with timeless old streets and houses leading down to the waterfront by the river. The river leads to the picturesque estuary alongside the salt marshes and during the daytime I’d recommend taking a watertaxi from near the city centre to the Ilha de Tavira with its lovely sandy beaches only a short distance away. This is at the quieter end of the Algarve and thankfully it doesn’t get swamped by the tourists that flock to the beaches to the west of Faro!
The Pousada is one of the brightest, most colourful Pousadas and it has lots of light to illuminate the convent’s impressive architecture and to enhance its cheerful yet sophisticated ambience. I found this Pousada very welcoming and I loved its style, particularly the well-designed swimming pool and terrace outside. We walked down the old roads and through the shops to the town at night and enjoyed drinks on the square by the Roman bridge. We enjoyed the city which has pretty good small shops, a lively waterfront and the sand bar nearby with its golden beaches, making this one of the most ideal Pousadas for a longer stay.
Guimarães - Dan's winner
"You can't say you know Portugal well if you haven't visited Guimarães"
The Pousada de Guimarães is without doubt my favourite Pousada, how often can you say you’ve slept in a 12th century monastery? The historical aspects to the building are obviously a huge attraction such as the beautifully restored fountain in the courtyard and the lovely exposed brickwork in the Pousada’s restaurant. What I love most about Guimarães’ Pousadas are the breath-taking views over the city.
Guimarães is called ‘the birthplace of Portugal’ as Portugal’s first king, D.Afonso I, was born in Guimarães, and the town is fondly held in high regard by the Portuguese. For such a small city, it contains so much fascinating history, culture, and architecture. The Castle (in partial ruin) and Palace of the Dukes of Bragança are must-sees during a visit here. From the old cobbled streets in the historic quarter, to the city's thriving café culture, it is difficult not to succumb to Guimarães’ charm. You can spend at least a day exploring the old quarter, which has been wonderfully conserved and whose residents proudly decorate their window boxes and gardens with flowers. I recommend taking a guided walking tour since there are so many sites of historic interest to take in, and for a break from the exploring, you can take the cable car up to the long hill that partially frames the city, to enjoy a stroll and lunch, with the city as a wonderful backdrop.