Herdade da matinha, a family estate covering 110 hectacres, lies 3kms from the village of cercal, on portugal’s unspoilt alentejo coast.
The estate lays amongst picturesque hills and valleys where silence is golden, only occasionally interrupted by overflying birds and grazing wildlife.
The houses on the estate are converted farmers’ buildings and barns.
In all, there are 20 rooms, all individually designed and tastefully decorated.
For the more active, the lush and green countryside is perfect for gentle strolls and rambling. Matinha also has a stable with 8 horses on which guests can amble through mediterranean woodland to the nearby beaches. Many of our friends opt to take a picnic hamper along too, prepared by our kitchen staff.
Once back at matinha, there are classes in yoga and pilates, and body massages for those who love feeling pampered.
Matinha is also a stone’s throw away from rota vicentina, a total 350 kms of footpaths of breath-taking beauty, where one feels completely at one with nature. This is a walker’s and cyclists paradise, as it is for birdwatchers.
Also along the way is the fishing village of porto covo, the coastal village of vila nova de milfontes, and for the more intrepid, carrapateira and sagres further south.
Beach-lovers have got easy access to the expanses of nearby malhao and aivados, with miles of coastline, great surfing and clean seawater (much better and healthier than the mediterranean sea).
Late in the day, after a shower and getting ready, there is the pinnacle that makes matinha what it is. The gastronomy. All food is locally sourced and homemade, and the wine list includes some of the best portugal has to offer at very reasonable prices. The atmosphere is informal and friendly, the music very chilled, and the meals exquisite. Some dinners at matinha have been known to start at 20h and only finish after 2 a.m.
Herdade da matinha is the authentic alentejo experience. The author of this text knows; i have been visiting matinha for the past 12 years and i have fallen in love with it.
And so will you.
Herdade da Matinha hotel is a riot of colour in a lush valley.
15km from Malhao beach
Hidden in a valley 5km south of Cercal, this country house is bursting with colour, thanks to owner Alfredo’s vivid paintings and red, pink and orange doors, chairs, sofas and cushions. Guests lounge in daybeds and by water features looking like they never want to leave. And if you make the most of the yoga studio, horse riding and cool pool it would be easy not to. Those who want to walk the Rota Vicentina could not be better placed as it runs right through the property.
Dinners are prepared by Alfredo and Monica and served at high tables laden with vases of wild flowers and vintage kitchenware (meals are not cheap, though, at €38 a head for three courses, excluding wine). Family suites have bunk beds in a separate space visible from the parents’ room.
By National Geographic Traveler USA