It’s no secret that, given our travel lifestyle, we’ve stayed in countless hotels, hostels, resorts and apartments of all shapes, sizes and prices around the world. Throughout this time, we’ve learned that our favorite kind of accommodation is the small luxury hotel. The type of place that’s more like a friend’s guesthouse than a business—accommodation where you feel right at home (albeit more often than not at a much more stylish and luxurious home.)
These small and personal hotels always go down as the most memorable, actually enhancing our travel experiences rather than just serving as a place to fall asleep at the end of a long day.
Carmo’s Boutique Hotel in Ponte de Lima, Portugal, is exactly this kind of place (and more.) The family-run luxury hotel is not only uniquely gorgeous in every way, but it’s also conveniently located in one of our favorite spots in Portugal, the Minho region. If you’re looking for a memorable, off-the-beaten-track Portuguese experience, this is it. Here’s a closer look at why we love Carmo’s Boutique Hotel and the Minho region so much:
Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel Of The World
It doesn’t take long to realize why Carmo’s consistently wins awards for being one of the world’s best small luxury hotels.
Located down a quiet country road surrounded by rolling hills, you might drive right past Carmo’s if you didn’t know to look for it. Once inside, the hotel grounds begin to unfold into a quiet oasis of gardens and vineyards.
Carmo’s Boutique Hotel has just fifteen suites and two ultra-glamorous tents. You’ll also find an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, chic aromatherapy spa, romantic wine atelier, traditional Portuguese restaurant, and even a resident pony! No detail has been overlooked. And with so many spaces to relax while reveling in the beauty of the countryside, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only guest there is at this intimate hotel.
In fact, everything from the staff to the location to the amenities is top-notch, without ever feeling over-the-top.
The Details Of Carmo’s
The first thing we noticed upon arriving at Carmo’s was the exquisite family heirlooms, artwork, antiques and stacks of books that decorated the property. Inspired by the family’s world travels but locally sourced from Portuguese artists and shops, the dining room, in particular, is a testament to Portugal’s fascinating history, seamlessly blending both old and new.
As we enjoyed a welcome cocktail with sparkling wine and raspberries on the terrace, we couldn’t help but keep commenting on all the fascinating objects around the room, making notes of all the items we wanted to return to photograph. The owners are consistently adding treasures to the space, making each visit uniquely special. When we were there, ceramics from famed Portuguese company Bordallo Pinheiro were finding new homes in the wine atelier.
The Rooms At Carmo’s
Each room at Carmo’s Boutique Hotel is unique, with different design and decor. We particularly loved the romantic bed (with sheets so soft we checked the tag to find out how to get them!), the abundant natural light, and the bathtub. The overstuffed green chair was also a great spot to curl up with a book, of which we got a lot of use.
While there are other rooms on the hallway, Carmo’s has been designed so that you cannot hear anything outside your room.
There are also two private tents with amazing views of the countryside. We didn’t stay in a tent, but we did take a gander inside to see what they were like. The huge tubs and floor to ceiling glass windows were absolutely divine.
The Spa At Carmo’s
No five-star hotel is complete without a spa, but the one at Carmo’s is quite unique in that one of its most popular offerings is its pure goat’s milk bath. The experience starts off with a sea salt exfoliation. Then move to the bath, where you’ll enjoy a relaxing facial and a glass of sparkling wine. Goat’s milk is considered to be excellent for the skin, with nutrients and vitamins that promote elasticity and nourishment. It’s also just plain cool.
The spa also offers a wide range of aromatherapy treatments, massages, and a heated pool. We didn’t have time for a spa treatment on our visit, but the goat’s milk bath and facial would be high on our list if we are ever to return!
The Restaurant At Carmo’s
When we smelled the amazing aroma wafting from the kitchen the first night, we knew we had to try the restaurant at Carmo’s for ourselves. Luckily, we timed our reservation with a special fado performance!
If you’re not familiar with it, Fado is a traditional Portuguese folk music genre characterized by its melancholic sounds. We were extremely moved by the performance at Carmo’s, our first time hearing fado in person. No matter where you’re traveling in Portugal, we highly recommend including a fado performance in your itinerary.
While we were serenaded, we devoured a mouthwatering three-course meal. Carmo’s believes in keeping their family traditions alive, preserving the flavors of generations past in traditional Portuguese cuisine. Many of the ingredients come from the garden, and the vast wine list and knowledge of the staff ensures they can help you pair your meal with a top Portuguese wine. We opted for Vinho Verde from the wine atelier at Carmo’s.
Note that the restaurant isn’t open to the public and all dishes are made fresh to order, so an advance reservation is required.
Why Visit The Minho Region of Portugal
Carmo’s Boutique Hotel is reason enough to add Ponte de Lima to your travel itinerary. However, the region is also overflowing with natural wonders and charming towns. In fact, there’s so much to discover that we’ll have another blog post coming out soon with the details on the region—including our favorite city in all of Portugal!
Check back next week to learn more.
Raquel, the owner of Carmo’s, explained to us that the mission of the hotel is not just to offer a luxurious hotel, but also to provide guests with an opportunity to feel, touch and live traditional Portuguese culture and hospitality. They’ve certainly succeeded. If you’re looking for a unique five-star boutique hotel, we highly recommend Carmo’s in Ponte de Lima.
We were guests of Carmo’s Boutique Hotel. All thoughts and opinions remain our own.
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