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Winter, and in particular the holiday season, has its own charms. The cold, and sometimes bad weather, beckons to be inside and warm, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to stroll, to enjoy excellent accommodations, to taste Portuguese cuisine and admire the beautiful landscapes. This is what led us to a weekend getaway, to visit Ponte de Lima, and to experience an excellent stay.
Our choice fell on Carmo's Boutique Hotel. Located very close to the city of Ponte de Lima, it is one of the Small Luxury Hotels in the World, having won this year the regional award in the category of accommodation of the Best of Wine Tourism, awarded by the Great Wine Capitals. Carmo's also innovates by investing in glamping, that is, camping with glamour. Two Deluxe Suite tents allow visitors to enjoy all the comforts associated with a five-star hotel, but at the same time having a closer contact with nature.
We were welcomed with kindness and care in the common room of the hotel, where the Christmas tree shared the space with personal objects that portray the history of the Carmo family. Books, antique radios, a Portuguese piano and guitars, family photos, and an extensive wine cellar, created a cosy and family atmosphere. It was already dark, and cold outside, but inside we felt the warmth of the atmosphere and the hospitality.
We were lead to our tent and when we entered, we immediately felt out of space and time, taking us back to the time when we participated in a safari in Zambia. The floor, walls and roof of the tent were made of wood with optimum thermal insulation, and a canvas covers the ceiling, protecting it from the merciless weather. Inside, we had all the comforts one could wish for, including a huge soaking tub, which we used for a few moments of relaxation.
After resting a little, we went down to dinner. The family tradition is felt in the cuisine of the hotel, where the traditional flavours of the Portuguese cuisine and the region's wines rule. As an appetizer, an octopus carpaccio with balsamic vinaigrette and a garden salad with apple and goat cheese, accompanied by a sparkling wine. As a main dish, a steak loin with thyme, grilled on the stone at our table, and a Douro red wine. For dessert and because its Christmas, the obvious choice was rabanadas accompanied with hazelnut ice cream. Wonderful!
We went back to our tent and fell asleep while listening to the rain falling and hitting the tent. In the morning, there was an intense fog in the region that is one of the wettest in Portugal. After an invigorating shower, it was time to go down, enter the main building and enjoy a magnificent breakfast, where homemade jams and quince jam, accompanied by tasty bread and a natural orange juice, were so delicious.
Gradually, the sun’s rays were dissipating the fog and showing the landscape, so we decided to walk a little around the estate. We returned to our tent, opened the curtains, and were able to enjoy the privileged view over the Lima river valley, sitting on the wicker chairs on the porch. Looking at the vineyard pruned all around, we knew we had several reasons to return to Carmo's. To take advantage of the grape harvest season and the hotel's wine workshop, where you can learn how to make wine. Do some wine tourism, visiting wine producing estates in the region. Or even enjoy the hotel's spa, and perhaps try out the famous Cleopatra Ritual Bath with 100% pure goat's milk. All good reasons to come again to this magnificent hotel, and have some new experiences.
Text and Photos by Carla Mota and Rui Pinto
Bloggers from “Viajar entre Viagens”
Carmo’s Boutique Hotel