Inspired by roadside lodgings that catered to medieval pilgrims, Portugal began building regional pousadas (government-owned inns) more than 65 years ago to reflect the customs, culture, and cuisine of each region.
The Castle of Óbidos, a former 15th-century palace, was among the first historical pousadas. Its opening signaled the start of an innovative pousadas program that has since resurrected dozens of architectural treasures and more pousadas are in the works.
Today visitors can lodge in enchanting, one-of-a-kind pousadas where the hospitality and dining are as authentic as the structure itself. Desire a relaxing country retreat, a convenient site near Lisbon, or a location near gilded museums and centuries-old cathedrals? Choose from among these pousadas:
The elegant Pousada de Dom João IV, near the Spanish border, was once a royal convent. Although it was built in 1539, restored in the 18th century, and recently modernized, this pousada's glorious, decorative-tile-covered chapels have been preserved.
The ducal palace Vila Viçosa, where King Carlos I spent his last night before being assassinated in 1908, is a neighbor. Now a living museum, the marble palace reveals the royal familys fading wardrobes, priceless photographs, and a two-story kitchen whose enormous copper cookware still gleams in the sunlight.
Founded in the 12th century, the Santa Marinha da Costa Monastery in the Costa Verde region has been sumptuously refurbished into an inn with 47 rooms and four extraordinary suites, some originally monks cells.
With its superb architecture, large balcony overlooking the garden, and dazzling azulejo tiling throughout, some say it is one of the most beautiful pousadas in the country.
Just outside Lisbon, the 24-room, two-suite Pousada Dona Maria I was built inside a clock tower and across the square from the 18th-century Queluz Palace. Summer home of Portugals royal family, the pastel-pink palace, renowned for its resplendent rooms and extensive gardens, has been called the Portuguese Versailles.
Construction on 31-room Hotel Solar da Rede in the Douro Valleys Mesão Frio, actually began in the 15th century. This pousada's property includes double rooms and suites decorated with period furniture, a chapel, restaurant, living room, game room with fireplace, swimming pool, and dock. Find time to wander through the fragrant orange groves, gardens, and port-wine vineyards.
On the official Pousadas de Portugal reservation site, you can opt to take advantage of a Pousadas Romance Package, designed for honeymoon couples and other romantics. It is available at select pousadas and valid during specific periods. When available, the deal includes:
- Three nights accommodation in the same pousada
- Upgrade at check-in, based on availability
- Dinner for two
- Champagne and fruit in the room
- VIP treatment