Madelin Tomelty

There is luxury in simplicity – this is a message that rings loud and clear at São Lourenço do Barrocal.

A member of both Virtuoso and Small Luxury Hotels of the World, São Lourenço do Barrocal is clearly not lacking in premium touches, and yet with its position nestled into the arid and vast landscape that is the Alentejo region of Portugal, this hotel is more farm-stay than swanky vacay. The restrained interior somehow manages to make ‘simple’ feel incredibly luxurious, and you get the strong sense that this pared-back style has been completely and utterly thought out, down to every last detail. Each space finds the perfect balance between just a little too much adornment and decoration and not quite enough, creating an ambience that is consistently fresh and calming throughout the hotel.

The rugged, untouched and surprisingly unpopulous Alentejo, with its vast open country, makes up almost one third of Portugal, and yet it retains the quiet, country charm of a small village. In the nineteenth century, the property, set in the foothills of medieval Monsaraz and nearby the Alqueva lake, was a thriving and self-sustaining small farming village with its own chapel, schoolroom and, would you believe, bullring. Having been in the same family for over two hundred years, the new generation wanted to bring this sense of tight-knit community back to the land, and embarked on a careful and loving refurbishment of the entire estate to create a farm retreat. The result is the epitome of understated luxury, and a place where guests can feel as at home there as its historic community had once been.

Nature is at the very heart of São Lourenço do Barrocal, with ancient holm oaks, olive groves and vineyards fringing the man-made feats of architecture and design, and this environment’s energy quietly yet persistently pulsates through every part of the boutique hotel.

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