A-dos-Cunhados, Portugal

Photo: Areias do Seixo
Photo: Areias do Seixo

Planning a city escape can be exhausting. It’s two hours to the mountains, three hours to the beach, and then you have to deal with suburban traffic or train delays. It’s almost not worth the hassle. But it’s not like that everywhere. In some European cities, you start to taste freedom as soon as you exit the Medieval walls or cross a bridge. From Lisbon, you’ll be surrounded by green valleys, pine forests, and sand dunes within an hour.

A-do-Cunhados is north of Lisbon along the windswept Atlantic coast. Three brother-in-laws first settled the area in the late 16th century. Between the farmland and the endless beaches, the area hasn’t changed much. People come to ride Lusitano horses, watch bullfights, go surfing, or ride a boat out to the Berlengas, a group of small islands 10 kilometers offshore.

Lately, they’re also coming to Areias do Seixo. This abandoned chicken farm has been turned into an eco-chic hotel, complete with solar panels, a greenhouse, and bonfires. But don’t let the hippie vibe dissuade you. You’ll be very comfortable here.

Photo: Areias do Seixo
Photo: Areias do Seixo

Upon your arrival, you’re welcomed with lemongrass tea and homemade cake. You’re surrounded by glass, concrete, stone, and reclaimed wood. Panoramic windows overlook the terrace. The gardens and the sea are beyond that. Your room, a Tree Room, is inspired by North Africa. The rug and the light fixtures are from Morocco. The bed frame is made out of driftwood. A log fireplace hangs in the corner. While a rainfall shower and a jacuzzi tub are in the spacious bathroom.

You quickly decompress at Areias do Seixo. There’s no rush in the morning. Since breakfast starts late, do yoga or chi kung when you wake up. Book a sound massage with Tibetan bowls and chants at the spa. Relax on a four-poster day bed by the green infinity pool. The gardens—full of fennel, beans, and grapes—are behind you. Sheep graze among the solar panels in the distance. Go rod fishing, mussel harvesting, or surfing on Praia do Seixo. Borrow a bike to check out the other nearby beaches: Praia do Amanhã and Praia do Navio. Tour the greenhouse, where you collect verbena and mint tea leaves to brew back at the hotel. Then select a bottle of Estremadura wine from the wine cellar to drink with dinner.

The hotel’s restaurant has a concrete bar, stocky wooden tables, and colorful chairs. Chandeliers sparkle above you. While the wood stove keeps the room warm after the sun sets. You eat freshly caught fish and Iberian black pork with a heavy red wine. Then head down to the bonfire, where traditional Portuguese folk music and a glass of port await you. You’re so close to the city, but for once, you feel thousands of miles away.

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