This massive 19th-century estate in the Alentejo was reborn under the watchful eye of the original family, with the vision of architect Eduardo Souto de Moura.
Named 2016’s “Most Bucolic Escape” by Monocle — that’s only half the story of this extraordinary farmscape hotel set in a wild corner of the Alentejo. Located in the foothills of Monsaraz castle and overlooking Alqueva lake, São Lourenço do Barrocal has belonged to the same family for over 200 years and is now in an exciting phase of rejuvenation.
The brainchild of owner and eighth-generation family member José António Uva, the project enlisted the 2011 Pritzker Prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura to begin not just restoring the structures and the land, but also the spirit and heritage of the “monte” where agricultural families have made their home for generations.
Comprised of a vast complex of buildings and active farmland, São Lourenço do Barrocal encompasses a massive 780 hectares of olive groves, vineyards, cork and oak forests.
School rooms, olive presses and farm outbuildings have been transformed and repurposed into understated luxury lodgings that recapture a sense of community and simplicity, and the hotel’s rural character remains along with a renewed modern aesthetic.
There are a total of 40 accommodations at São Lourenço do Barrocal (22 rooms, two suites and 16 cottages). Each has been cleverly adapted in collaboration with traditional and contemporary craftsmen and women, never losing sight of the property’s rich heritage.
The restaurant, where you can dine inside or on the terrace overlooking the countryside, serves regionally-inspired cuisine from the Alentejo, with organic products locally sourced from selected farms as well as its own vegetable garden.
The bar and lounge were fashioned from the former domed olive oil mill and is an intimate and clubby spot, while the outdoor poolside bar is a relaxing and refreshing area for snacks and drinks.
According to Souto de Moura, São Lourenço do Barrocal “is not just a house, this is truly a mini-universe, a village. It has its own hierarchy: a street, a square, outbuildings, cloisters.”
This is a remarkable project that preserves the ancient farming traditions and unique history and ecology of the Alentejo, and we love that it has been undertaken with such deep respect for heritage and a luxurious sense of understated style.
This article was originally published in Dwell on 30 June, 2017.