São Lourenço
do Barrocal

Hotel & Monte Alentejano in Alentejo
From €170 per night

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO

A 19th century farm estate retreat set amidst ancient oaks, olive groves and vineyards.

In the same family for over 200 years, the estate used to be an ancient farming village, which has been brought carefully back to life as a luxury hotel, with the help of Pritzker prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura and interior designers Anahory Almeida.

Spread over a vast 7.8 million square meters, the property offers 40 accommodation units: 22 rooms, 2 suites, a cottage with one bedroom, 13 cottages with two bedrooms and 2 with three; all of which have private terraces. There’s also a restaurant, a spa, a winery, and stables, among other experiences.

Sleep cradled by the restfulness of the landscape and open your window in the morning to a breathtaking view of Monsaraz. You will want to go outside, stepping into your very own private terrace to take in the gentle countryside air.

Awesomeness

Local gems include Neolithic dolmens.

275 days of sunshine per year and 75 different bird species just on the property itself.

São Lourenço do Barrocal produce their own wine and it’s excellent.

The nearby Alqueva Lake is Europe’s biggest man-made water reservoir.

Kids will love it here.

Bear in mind

This is the most family orientated hotel from the JO&SO collection.

The pool was a bit busy with kids (in August) but the hotel plans to build a separate pool for the little ones in 2017.

We found the pool bar prices a little bit steep.

The service felt overly formal and a bit slow at times. We have no doubts things will keep improving at this new hotel and we look forward to visiting again.

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Local artisans contributed to the interior design in the guest rooms where antique objects and furniture from the estate were used, alongside contemporary Portuguese pieces.
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
A delicious organic farm breakfast, with artisanal bread from Alentejo and local delicacies.
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
The entire interior design project has been undertaken by the architecture, interior and furniture design studio Anahory Almeida, who are also responsible for chef José Avillez's restaurants, yet the majority of the objects on display come from the family house in Reguengos de Monsaraz.
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Spa | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Spa  | JO&SO
The hotel's spa offers a wide range of signature treatments and organic treats by Susanne Kaufmann. It was awarded Best Hotel Spa 2016/17 by Monocle Travel Top 50 Awards.
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
The restaurant offers local cuisine, infused with Alentejo flavours and subtle contemporary twists.
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Horse Riding | JO&SO

Activities:

Bicycle rides
Bird watching
Cooking Workshops
Horse riding
Hot air balloon rides
Picnics
Playroom for the kids
Spa & wellness
Stargazing
Swimming Pool
Treasure hunting
Walks & hikes
Watersports (lake)
Wine tastings

Local Action

Alentejo’s sense of beauty is found almost everywhere, from whitewashed villages and craggy outcrops to undulating plains peppered with cork oak and olive groves.

Visit the nearby village Monsaraz (4Km), with its hilltop castle with stunning lake views.

Relax in the shores of the biggest man-made lake in Europe, Alqueva (43Km), where water sports and boat rides are available all-year-round. Discover it by walking along its shores and hiking up the gentle hills that border it. The hotel can provide you with the best routes so you uncover its hidden corners.

Dark Sky Alqueva (20Km) is the first starlight tourism destination in the world. The excellent atmospheric conditions and clarity make it one of the best of all to watch the sky and the stars at night.

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Horse Stables  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  Horse Ridding | JO&SO
Go horse-riding around the beautiful estate.
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Bikes  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
The hotel provides bikes for all sizes and fun activities such as treasure hunts for the kids.
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  Vineyards | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Vineyards | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Winery | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Wine Tasting | JO&SO
Be introduced to the estate's vineyards and winery followed by a wine tasting session.
Monsaraz in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Monsaraz in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Monsaraz in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Monsaraz in Alentejo  | JO&SO
You'll be charmed by the tiny village of Monsaraz (4km), one of the oldest settlements in southern Portugal. Climb up and awe at the view.
Sabores de Monsaraz Restaurant in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Monsaraz in Alentejo  | JO&SO
"Sabores de Monsaraz" is a traditional restaurant with incredible views over Alqueva's lake and a very charming owner, Isabel. Its stunning views extend beyond the Spanish border as well as to Mourão Village and the new Aldeia da Luz.
Sabores de Monsaraz Restaurant in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Sabores de Monsaraz Restaurant in Alentejo  | JO&SO
The watercress and cheese salad it's her speciality and it's divine. Other special dishes from the region include a hearty savoury bread pudding – containing asparagus or fish – called migas (we LOVE it).
Evora in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Evora in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Visit Évora (51km), a lovely small town and a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Fialho Restaurant in Evora Alentejo  | JO&SO
Fialho Restaurant in Evora Alentejo  | JO&SO
Visited by tourists and the Portuguese alike, Restaurant Fialho in Évora has become a world reference by the "Alentejana" Portuguese cuisine.

We interviewed José António Uva, the owner of São Lourenço do Barrocal.

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo José António Uva  | JO&SO
José António Uva is the eighth generation of the same family to have owned São Lourenço do Barrocal, and is the lead creative mind behind the project.
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO

In the 19th century, São Barrocal grew to become a thriving small farming village, providing enough livestock, grain, vegetables and wine to sustain up to 50 resident families year-round. With its own chapel, schoolroom and bullring, it was home to a tight-knit community who dwelled there happily for many years.

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO

His grandfather José above and his grandmother below.

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO

This estate has been in your family for more than 200 years. How did the idea to create a hotel come about?

Restoration of the estate for private use wouldn’t have made any sense at all because this is not and was never a family home; it’s much bigger than a family home. It was originally conceived to accommodate many families and industrial agricultural production.

In 2002, I came to spend some time out here to figure out what I could do; it became clear that unless I dedicated myself to this project, it would lose the sense of sustainability that was always part of it. A 200-year-old place like this needs to be under constant restoration and renovation or it stops making sense and stops being used.

I was more concerned with sustainability, with what you can offer the next generation, with something that is not so intrinsic to its time that it eventually dies. There was a need to understand the estate, what you can convert, what lies within the walls and if it makes sense or not to make a wine cellar, a restaurant, a vegetable garden… and with all of that information you can understand in a much clearer way if the estate, 10 years after the restoration, will continue to make sense.

I spent a year in that house next to the swimming pool, I was quite isolated but the idea was to figure out “if I stay here through 4 seasons, a whole year alone, will this continue to make sense?” “Is this a love story? Wow! Are we going to do this project?”

Were you alone during that year?

Single, alone. I have a friend who is an architect, Manuel, who came to live in one of the houses which was much worse off than mine. The only way to understand this place was to come and live here. As a family, we never spent much time in this “Monte” [name given to estates in Alentejo]. What we did do here was things like having 20 kids over camping out for one week without electricity and water.

The year that I spent here was very important, I was able to understand the different seasons, what could and couldn’t be done, how cold it gets, how hot. Then when faced with all of the decisions regarding the project I was able to sit down with the engineer and ask “so what will we use for climate control?” and when he replies with a romanticised solution “you should do geothermal, it’s the climate control system of the future” – having spent enough time here I was confident to say “forget geothermal, we need straight air conditioning otherwise, it will be unbearable”. I don’t like air conditioners but sometimes there is no other way.

Did you have any experience in the hotel industry?

No, but I forced myself to get some during that time. I thought there were certain points I could take on, and other parts that I couldn’t. We ended up collaborating with a company that helped out in the investment and operations side, the amount of capital that was needed to invest and to maintain the project. I learned a lot of very interesting things with them, most of all, I learned about what I don’t want to do.

"In 2002, I spent a year here, quite isolated… I was able to understand the different seasons, how cold it gets, how hot."

- José António Uva, Owner

The article published in DN in the summer of 1927 which describes the estate in its “production peak”.

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO

The area was originally conceived in 1820 to acommodate a number of families for industrial agricultural production.

What is the history behind the estate and your family?

Alentejo was brushwood from one end to the other and agricultural production was non-existent. These lands were hunting grounds for the king, people lived miserably and the population was scarce. With the problems of the monarchy at the start of the century, a decision was passed which became known as “the 1820 liberalisation of the lands” – selling the lands that were not in use, putting more money into the royal house and creating more productivity in areas of the country which had been completely unused.

In 1820, my ancestor Manuel Mendes Papança, a gentleman from a military order and a lawyer who had studied in Coimbra, was able to buy at the time 9 thousand hectares around Monsaraz. He was Council President for 20 years and he enacted something very rare in the 19th century. He was a man of incredible vision: he gave full ownership of lands to small-scale farmers who undertook to plant vines.

This meant that he was able to create a community centred on wine, enabling him to start a central winery where wine was made under the old co-operative principle. So no money was ever exchanged, only goods. By 1870 there was an agricultural industry in the Alentejo which continued to grow through to the 1950s.

There is a beautiful article which was on the cover of Diario de Noticias in 1927, in which, by then his grandson, explains what mass agricultural production is. The funny thing is that an industry which did not exist was professionalised and then Salazar (Prime Minister of Portugal from 1932 to 1968) created his own narrative about Alentejo – his own version and no one else’s – in which he claimed that Alentejo would become “Portugal’s granary”.

He said that he would take the southern part of Alentejo, clean it up from one end to the other and industrialise cereal production. It was a disastrous decision as it drastically accelerated land aridness and tree erosion. It really was a bizarre decision which wasn’t even very logical from the competition standpoint because we couldn’t truly compete in the production of cereal harvested in arid Alentejo when other countries have a lot more and much richer lands.

When the regime ended and the plans didn’t work, extreme poverty set in.

Growing up, what was your own relationship with the estate?

Since 1820, this estate has been handed down from generation to generation. Some periods were more productive than others. During the 1975 revolution, the year in which I was born, the estate was occupied against the family’s will. There was a warrant out for my family’s arrest and they fled to Spain. That’s when the estate really entered a state of complete disuse and abandonment.

I was just a young kid at the time and my relationship with Alentejo was mainly about holidays. Growing up, the restoration wasn’t important for me but I did think about it sometimes. Then I went abroad to study and work, and there was a moment when I thought it’s now or never. I can do it now, I don’t have children, I’m not married, I can afford to spend some time there and have a good think about the whole thing.

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Before (2002) and after (2016)
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Winery | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo Wine Cellar  | JO&SO

The Winery

Parts of the estate including the winery were reborn under the eye of the Portuguese architect that won the 2011 Pritzker Prize, Eduardo Souto Moura.

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO

The swimming pool, also designed by the Architect Eduardo Souto Moura, is invaded by a stone which is given the name Barrocal.

Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO

José’s favourite season at the farm is Spring, when wildflowers change the scenery left by mild winters, abundantly covering the fields.

How did the collaboration with the Architect Eduardo Souto Moura come about?

The planning was made with an architect from Lisbon, João Pedro Falcão de Campos. Later I was introduced to Eduardo (Eduardo Souto de Moura), he came here for lunch and I told him that I’d like him to work on the estate because there is no one in Portugal who knows as much as he does about restoration as he does.

Before I started working with him in 2008, I was getting a little fed up. I had already spent 6 years trying to understand the project and I was 33. It was very intense and very personal. From sunrise to sundown, it was my life. Then things changed quite suddenly, and the project started to work itself out.

You’ve learned a lot…

You just keep growing and growing, learning from the experience every member of the team brings in. We don’t want to be the expected luxury hotel, quite the opposite. We want to be much more personal, intuitive, less signage, less worried about lighting; houses are like that, they have a life of their own. That’s how we like to do things. It’s like the swimming pool issue, I get it; we have to separate the waters (note: they are going to build a separate swimming pool for children).

What is the best time of year for people to come and how long should they stay?

My favourite time of year here is the spring. As for the number of nights, there are two different takes on it. One, for people who live in Portugal and come for the weekend, a break, you might say. Although we’ve had some surprising stories, we’ve had people come out from New York to spend the weekend and then go back.

The other, is the one where you bring your children out for the week and really live the experience intensely – you get that experience I had when I was a kid. We used to go to the Algarve. I would leave the house at 7.00 in the morning and only come back at 8.00 in the evening. They can have that here, they can wake up, get on their bikes, get breakfast… they are free.

"Every week he would sleep in his van all around the Alentejo dealing in roof tiles, then he would come by here and we would buy them."

- José António Uva, Owner
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO
Farm Retreat São Lourenço do Barrocal in Alentejo  | JO&SO

José’s favorite object are the roof tiles

Acquiring 300,000 original vintage tiles from the region was no easy task but well worth it.

What is your favourite object in the estate and why?

The roof tile. There weren’t enough of the original tiles, so in the specs it was written “the tiles that now-a-days best imitate the original, which are called the something or other”. I ordered the tiles, looked at them and said “this is horrible”. The tiles are half the construction works; it’s like someone’s hair. Those roof tiles weren’t what I was looking for. But then someone told me there was a guy who could source old roof tiles in the Alentejo, but I struggled to get a hold of him. I finally found him at the Algarve Football Stadium. He was in a Ford Transit and said: “I can get you those roof tiles” and I said to him “but I need 300.000 roof tiles” he replied “Yep, yep, I will bring you roof tiles every week”.

We made an agreement, and in fact, every week he would sleep in his van all around the Alentejo dealing in roof tiles, then he would come by here and we would buy them.

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São Lourenço do Barrocal
7200-177 Monsaraz
Portugal

Airports

Lisbon (LIS) – 180km
Faro (FAO) – 235km
Porto (OPO) – 468km

By Car

It’s a 2h drive from Lisbon to São Lourenço do Barrocal. Hiring a car is recommended if you want to explore the region. Otherwise, the hotel can arrange a transfer from the airport.

Car Rentals
We don’t own a car which means we hire a car for our JO&SO trips. We tend to use Europcar, as we like their cars, transparent fees and the service we receive. We always go for full insurance. It is more expensive, but we once had a flat tire and we were very happy to be fully covered.

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Obrigada!