Convento da Graça, Tavira
Set in an immaculately converted sixteenth-century convent around beautiful cloisters and with its own church, Convento de Graça's designer-style is hard to fault. Most of the plush rooms look down over Tavira’s old town – with its hipped roofs, cobbled streets and wrought-iron balconies – or have views over the rural hillside. The swimming pool sits inside the old town walls, while a glass partition in the bar reveals the remains of a Moorish settlement that were discovered during renovation work.
Convento da Graça by Rui Ornelas (CC license)
Perched above the town of Alcácer do Sal, this former Moorish castle has had a stylish makeover and is now home to the fabulous Pousada Dom Afonso II, one of Portugal’s classiest pousadas. The ancient shell of the castle makes a dramatic setting for the surprisingly contemporary rooms, and there’s also a swimming pool and top-notch restaurant – the real draw here, however, is the view out over the town’s medieval buildings, the Rio Sado and the vivid green rice paddy fields below.
Pestana Palacio do Freixo, Porto
Portugal’s second city finally has its own luxury pousada, a couple of kilometres east and upriver of Ribeira. The magnificently restored Baroque Palácio do Freixo dates from 1742, and enjoys a majestic riverside location. The main building sticks with period style and houses a restaurant, bar and public rooms, while contemporary guest quarters – superbly appointed and many with classic Douro river views – are set in an adjacent former flour factory. Facilities are top-notch, from the outdoor infinity pool with river view to the indoor pool and spa, and the elegant restaurant and bar mean you don’t have to make the slightly inconvenient trip into town and back if you don’t wish to.
Pousada de São Francisco, Beja
Pousada de São Francisco is set round the cloisters and church of a former thirteenth-century convent – not surprisingly, the atmosphere is serene, with plush rooms modelled from former cells whose small windows keep out the heat. The excellent-quality restaurant and bar spill out into a palm-dotted garden where there’s also a spacious pool and tennis courts, while inside there’s a sauna and Turkish bath. All in all, it’s a tranquil retreat, where the only sound at night is the odd nightjar.
Pousada de Viseu, Viseu
Portugal’s largest pousada, Pousada de Viseu is a super-stylish conversion of a historic hospital, which opened in 1842 – photographs throughout the building show the work in progress. Spacious cherry wood rooms with granite bays – the top floor ones have terraces – overlook Viseu, while lounge seats occupy the soaring glass-topped cloister courtyard. It’s a very calm space, where everything is on-site from the pools and a restaurant to the spa, which is located in the former hospital's chapel.
Pousada de Viseu by TEDxViseu (CC license)