Sao Lourenco do Barrocal review – a true gem in Alentejo

Portugal Hotels
  • 40 rooms including two suites and 16 cottages
  • from 750 euros

Sao Lourenco do Barrocal is really what you call a destination hotel but it is definitely worth it. 

It takes a good two hours from Lisbon and of course if you’re coming from the UK it’s even longer because you need to factor in the flight. But once you get there you really are rewarded for your journey. 

Sao Lourenco do Barrocal first impressions

Location: 4/5

The São Lourenço do Barrocal estate is located in the inner region of the Alentejo province, less than 10 kilometres from Spain, close to the vast Lake Alqueva and the medieval village of Monsaraz.

Sao Lourenco do Barrocal is a farm and wine estate which has been carefully renovated and turned into a luxury retreat hotel in the middle of the Alentejo region.

When you arrive you are actually a little bit overwhelmed by the size of the estate as you’re trying to make sense of all the different areas. There are different buildings and the rooms are either in the main building or scattered around the central alley and overlooking the countryside.

Sao Lourenco do Barrocal review - a beautiful estate in Alentejo as a luxury holiday for families

The first thing you notice is the quiet, the serenity punctuated only by the occasional birdcall.

Once a thriving farming village, the estate is undergoing a renaissance: from its considered architect-designed residences to its vibrant restaurant, flourishing organic market garden, flower-filled meadows and winding trails, Barrocal draws you in and keeps you there, only asking you to relax and take in the wonderful region that it sits in.

You are in the middle of the beautiful, peaceful and quiet Alentejo. Not by the sea but there is a lake nearby where you can enjoy some water activities.

Sao Lourenco design: such simple beauty

Design: 5/5

The rooms at Sao Lourenco are in the former hamlet houses.  Space and calm is what characterizes them.  The white washed walls, high ceilings, the arches under the roofs and the terracotta floor are simple yet so elegant. 

The interiors are equally minimalist but at the same time offers you all what you need.  The local craftsmanship is present via tapestries on the walls, baskets on the floor, or ceramics on the walls.

If you rent a cottage, like we did, you also have an outdoor space with a table from which to enjoy the sunset or sunrise.

We had a meadow cottage, which came with two bedrooms, each en suite, and a very big open plan living room and kitchen.  You can actually cook everything you want in the kitchen as it has all the appliances and plates etc..

The bathrooms are simple but come with lovely smelling products, fluffy towels and that simple feeling of being in a relaxed place.

The beds are utterly comfortable and the only noise you hear is the singing of the sparrows in the morning. 

It felt truly special and we took lots of inspiration from the interiors design.

Sao Lourenco restaurants: such good food and delightful setting

Food: 4.5/5

The food offering is particularly well thought out. You can eat in the bar, by the pool, at the restaurant and in the summer months there is a grill restaurant by the gardens. 

In addition you can order room service or a hamper of the fresh vegetables and fruits from the garden for you to prepare in your room.  All cottages come with a kitchen and everything you want. That makes it also really practical for families with young children.

Breakfast is one of the most attractive and authentic I’ve seen. Lots of fruits from the estate (cherries, kiwis, oranges), baked fruits such as pear or apples, some unusual spreads such as a fig butter or beetroot paste, and home made jams of red berries, orange and courgettes!

In the afternoon, you can enjoy free cakes and fresh fruits and tea in the bar.

The main restaurant offers generous and very tasty diners. I loved how they served the main course in the pot it was cooked in. I had a  delicious veal with sauce and fresh asparagus from the estate and a yummy lemon and basil ice cream for desert. 

The Hortelao diner was one of the highlights of our stay. Set under fairy lights by the gardens and the pool, it’s focusing on grilling produce from the estate or from the local area. Starters are shared with the whole table and are typical of the region: baked cheese, sardines, tomatoes carpaccio and cod with garlic. For main I had the grilled lobster which was cooked perfectly. Deserts are grilled fruits and cakes. A lovely evening indeed. 

We also loved our lunches by the pool. Simple and fresh dishes under the pergola with the rays of light coming through and a glass of rosé. Just bliss!

The highlight though is the aperitif in the main street looking at the sunset.  The light at that time of the day is stunning and enjoying a glass of cosmopolitan while seeing the sun falls behind the hills is truly magical.

Sao Lourenco do Barrocal is definitely kids friendly

Kids: 4/5

You can choose to have one of the cottages that have one or two bedrooms with lots of space to sprawl. 

In terms of activities, there is a smaller pool away from the big one for them.  Or they could go on one of the  horse carriages or, if older, have a riding lesson. There are also lots of activities organised such as the sun gazing session in the morning when we were there.

Failing that, you can send them to the well appointed playroom with lots of toys to have fun with

We saw many families with kids of all ages and they all seemed to have a brilliant time. 

From the poolside at Sao Lourenco do Barrocal

Pools: 4/5

Obviously, many hours are spent by the fantastic pool.  It is set in a wide grassy area, which is bordered by ancient walls which used to be the local aqueduc.

The pool is not heated and is 30 metres long. In the hot summer month, the temperature of the water is of course perfect. 

We particularly liked that there were plenty of lounge seats all around;  Initially everyone wants to lay on the wide sunbeds closer to the pool.  But as you stay a few days, you realise that the classic loungers a few metres away are as comfortable and more peaceful. 

Regularly the staff will come round and offer you a glass of rosemary flavoured water or a complimentary glass of rosé. Very special indeed!

What to do at Sao Lourenco do Barrocal

Activities: 4/5

Bikes are available at any time and you can also book some electric bikes.  We had a lovely bike ride around the estate admiring the typical Alentejo countryside or stopping at viewpoints and discovering menhirs on the way.

The hotel can arrange a hot air balloon ride which must be quite special. On site, horses allow you to go riding very easily as well. 

Nearby you need to visit the pretty village of Monserraz. White washed houses line up cobbled streets that take you to the old castle which also was a bull fight ring! Some of the stairs are a bit scary at times, as the whole site doesn’t have all the safety guards that you are used to in touristy sites now. It actually reminded me of my childhood when none of those existed when you were sightseeing. 

Back at the estate, you can of course have a wonderful relaxing treatment at the spa. It also has a steam room and sauna, although we didn’t try them. The treatments are very expertly delivered by lovely ladies; I had a lymphatic drainage and a full massage and I truly enjoy them. As usual wigth Sao Lourenco, the spa is set in a wing of the estate with delightful pared down decor.

What makes Sao Lourenco do Barrocal special is this unique combination of aestheticism with local authenticity

Everything is beautiful. A simple salad comes with edible flowers, the bathroom by the pool has fresh vibrant pink flowers, the tables are set with wild branches and leaves.

The staff is lovely, very relaxed yet truly intent in making your stay feel very special. 

The relaxation is also enhanced by a very well judged background music in the spa, the pool restaurant or the bar. 

Our verdict: Sao Lourenco do Barrocal is a truly unique place

Overall: 5/5

Sao Lourenco do Barocal has all what we love : beautiful original buildings renovated with care, simple elegant interior design, a good variety of food offering, lots of space and a sense of exclusivity without being over the top.  It’s true luxury as I call it: an unexpected heaven in the middle of nowhere with great food and great service. 

It is definitely worth the journey. Highly highly recommended indeed. 

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