We drove through the vast and varying landscapes of Alentejo, the south-central region of Portugal, to reach Convento do Espinheiro, our hotel for the evening. Originally a convent built by monks in the 15th century & frequently visited by Portuguese monarchs in its heyday, the Convento do Espinheiro was later renovated into a luxury hotel that caters to guests from all over the world while sharing a piece of its history.
Character, comfort and food is the draw to this 92 room hotel in Evora. The interior of the hotel mixes the new with the old and while at times it could be disorienting, I love that the atmosphere exudes eccentricity, history and modernity all at the same time. My bedroom was equipped with the usual amenities but decorated with clean minimalistic undertones contrasted by a whimsical blue painting by a local artist and a leopard print Dolce & Gabbana desk chair. Take a stroll around the premises and you’d find an indoor pool, outdoor pool, a 1 thousand year old olive tree and its own church with an alter of gold.
As guests of the hotel we were also lucky enough to dine at Divinus, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant located in the convent’s former wine cellar. The long, dark hall of the former wine cellar might look a little foreboding but the atmosphere is surprisingly relaxed. Of course it could be that I was too preoccupied with my meal to notice any stuffiness. What stood out in particular were the fat scallops taken with a light tomato soup, stuffed leeks and cucumbers to whet our appetite. It didn’t take me long to lap it up and let the tenderness of the scallops and the acidic zing of the soup to open up my palate.
If you find yourself in Evora you’d do well to stay at Convento do Espinheiro. Just make sure your key card works, as it faltered twice for me, and definitely do not miss out on their splendid breakfast buffet (I stocked up on a few mini natas on my way out).
Convento do Espinheiro
Note: the Portugal Food Stories trip was organized & sponsored by Aptece. All views are my own.