This country house is bursting with colour, thanks to owner Alfredo’s vivid paintings and red, pink and orange doors, chairs, sofas and cushions.
Surrounded by nature, the Herdade offers several activities including picnics, yoga and stretching, massage therapies, surf classes, and magnificent horse riding.
Those who want to walk the Rota Vicentina could not be better placed, as the 340km nature route runs by the doorstep of Herdade da Matinha.
Horse riding through forests of eucalyptus and cork trees with incredible views.
Trekking to the beach, a surf lesson or a dip in the pool, relax, read and unwind.
Just 8km from the spectacular beaches of the Vicentine Coast Nature Park.
Oranges trees are everywhere and the orange juice is out of this world.
Delicious Alentejo bread from the local bakery, which still operates the old traditional open fire ovens.
Bear in Mind
The access road is a 3km rough track.
This is a rural countryside house. Here luxury is watching the sun go down.
No TVs in the rooms.
Room types and sizes vary considerably.
Dinner is a fixed menu and a little pricey for Portuguese standards. Snacks are also available.
“… everything here is made as if it was our own home, but it so happens that we share it with others.”
When we got married we started dreaming of having a guesthouse in the countryside. We really liked the idea of being surrounded by nature, of having a countryside house… a peaceful retreat, a place where there’s a lot of caring, loving and where people feel good.
We had always made this connection between the countryside and Australia because my sister lived there. We went to visit her a few times and we envied their lifestyle – the simple life. We decided to move to Australia to follow our dream, this was 20 years ago!
We were fully prepared to leave, we sold everything we had, we were all packed and the visas were sorted… but then we decided to come to Alentejo just for a last-minute weekend getaway and that’s when we realised how beautiful it was. Suddenly what we were looking for was a lot closer than Australia.
Here, we found the nature, the simple life, the beauty, the virgin forest, the silence, the space, the sea nearby and the unimportance of time.
That same weekend we started exploring and driving through muddy dirt roads. At some point, we saw a house which looked abandoned. We were drawn to it straight away. We started sneaking around and realised it really was abandoned.
After that, we went on a quest to find the owner, which we did. The house was pretty much in ruins but it was sort of habitable. That same weekend we made the decision. The owner sold us the house as he had no interest whatsoever in keeping it.
We moved in even before we’d exchanged contracts and without electricity, or anything! We went back to Lisbon, hired a van and basically started camping here.
It took about a year to get it to a super basic level. We opened with two rooms but still with no electricity. We used fuel lanterns and people had meals at the table with us.
In the beginning, we used to host friends and friends of friends… that’s how it all began. It wasn’t easy to get here and sometimes the road was so muddy that we and the guests would have to stay in and eat whatever we had – bread, olive oil, olives, oregano, and wine.
The house was officially ready two years in. We opened with four rooms and electricity at last.
“We opened with two rooms but still with no electricity, we used fuel lanterns.”
One gets used to it. We hardly ate any meat or fish as there was no fridge and for that reason, we could only eat foods that didn’t go off. We lived a lot from the vegetable garden but we also had some tricks up our sleeves.
For example, we’d immerse meat in its fat inside this giant terracotta pot or we’d put the butter in a box immersed in water so that it wouldn’t melt.
The food side of things was tricky but the light was easily resolved with candles and we had someone that took care of the laundry for us.
We had zero experience. But we had experience setting up a home and a hotel is not much more than our own home. We had always enjoyed things that were well executed. Having a hotel became an extension of our lives. It still is today – the music, the food, the decoration… everything here is made as if it was our own home, but it so happens that we share it with others.
Eclectic and organic. A house which has been adapted to both our lifestyle and to the environment. Carefully chosen materials. Simple and tasteful. It was a challenge to build a beautiful house with so few resources. Everything has been thought up by us, we’ve never hired anyone. Alfredo was born with a passion for architecture and he designs everything with function and form in mind.
The rooms tell a story about the different stages we’ve been through. The first rooms, the ones that already existed, were actually the spaces where the animals lived so we adapted the interiors to turn it into a hotel.
After that we’ve built the rest of the rooms from the ground up and therefore, they’re a bit more modern, more comfortable and functional.
We’re now on a third phase, we’re going to build a spa and eight suites, lodges – cabin style, with balconies and exterior individual fireplaces. This phase should be finished by the Summer.
I think it’s a feeling. Above all, it’s a house with a lot of memories and we have a big love for this place.
Our eldest son, who today is a professional showjumper, was passionate about horses and that grabbed our attention. Alfredo and I had no experience with horses but we thought it would be nice for people to enjoy. This only happened ten years ago. It was around that time that we also built the swimming pool, the yoga and massage room.
There are always funny stories and guests also bring something interesting. We enjoy the exchange and each person is a story in them self. A lot of the people that come to visit us end up inspiring us in one way or another.
Thank you too!
Go for a hike, horse riding or just chill by the pool. This is a walkers’ and cyclists’ paradise, as it is for birdwatchers. Once back at Herdade da Matinha, there are Yoga and Pilates classes and massages for those who love feeling pampered.
Explore the spectacular beaches of the Alentejo Coast, which is considered a Mecca for surfers. Try a surf lesson. Visit Malhão beach (17km) and appreciate its stunning cliffs and the endless sand area.
Watch the video above which we did with Condé Nast Traveller. In it we talk about Foz do Douro - the seaside neighbourhood in Porto where we grew up. check out the Full article on their website.
Faro (FAO) – 156km
Lisbon (LIS) – 183km
Porto (OPO) – 471km
Hiring a car is highly recommended to get to the hotel and explore the region and the beautiful beaches nearby. Otherwise, you can take a taxi or Herdade da Matinha can arrange a transfer from the airport.
© Photos by JO&SO and courtesy of Herdade da Matinha.
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