by Christine Tongue
Waking up to the hee-haw of a donkey, tasting the estate-grown plums or taking a dip in the secluded pool at the top of the grounds are just some of the highlights when staying at Hotel Club d’Azeitão, a 20 minute ride from Lisbon. The traditional Portuguese hotel is set at the foothills in a beautiful renovated building from the 17th century, and is surrounded by vast and lush fruit groves. The hotel’s historical origins have been accentuated with the use of classic Portuguese blue-and-white tiling and patterns running through the hotel, from the picturesque entrance to the photogenic pool. And it is the latter that really forms the crowning stroke of the hotel. Leading up the palm tree-paved path through the estate, the pool sits at the top like its own secret mecca. Featuring a tiled wall depicting a classic scene with angels, it’s easy to feel serene by the pool. What is unique about this hotel is that it feels almost like a private home, and the pool has just a sprinkling of sun beds and parasols on the adjoining lawn, and so only accommodates a few sun-seekers. It’s a beautiful spot that captures a calm pink evening light.
Depending on the time of your stay, you may enjoy the produce from the hotel-grown oranges, lemons and plums. The hotel owner himself came up during one evening stroll and offered some ripe plums, and all year round the reception is decorated with a carafe and small glasses, ready for pouring a sip of own-distilled brandy. The friendly hotel receptionist was happy to share some local tips. The closest village Vila Nogueira de Azeitão is full of a genuine Portuguese feeling away from tourists and with a few good restaurants. The nearest beach is Arrabida – considered one of the most beautiful ones in Portugal with its clear waters set against the green mountain backdrop, but the beach has lately gained too much popularity, so best to be avoided during the summer weekends. For a truly stylish day at the beach it’s worth taking a trip to Comporta, which can be reached most easily by a quick ferry from Setubal. Comporta itself is a little village, famous for its many storks and low-built thatched cabanas. The unspoiled beach has long wide stretches of white sand and some upmarket beach cafés. It’s a perfect get-away for anyone in search of tranquility, some Atlantic swimming and stunning sea vistas. Portugal proves that it really has a lot to offer beyond Lisbon.
Christine Tongue is an Anglo-Swedish copywriter/writer, fashion lover and mother.