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by Sarah Owen

Casa das Penhas Douradas

A charming, unassumingly splendid, and tranquil get away nestled in the Serra da Estrela mountains.

Absolute Highlight

Although our stay was a sum of memorable touches and remarkable moments, their incredible dinners and our time spent on the hotel grounds surrounded by mountainous views, stand out as remarkable.

In a nutshell

No. of rooms
17 rooms, including 1 suite and several mansards.
The design aesthetic is...
a contemporary adaptation of local architecture, the hotel's overall minimal, cozy, and functional style echoes Scandinavian design and Japanese lines.
The typical guest is...
seeking pampered tranquility away from it all; an enthusiast of the great outdoors, open to other cultures and an admirer of details.
The sustainability features (ie. plastic free, recycling, green wall, garden) are...
reflected in the hotel's very architecture and management. From the use of refurbished, insulating, natural construction materials to daily meals prepared solely using seasonal and available ingredients, sustainability is a defining element throughout.
The location is...
at 1500m of altitude, surrounded by forest and mountains. The closest village, Manteigas, is 20 minutes away and the municipality of Seia is a 30 minute drive. The two nearest international airports - situated in Lisbon and Porto - are respectively 3.5 and 2.5 hours away.
Interaction is encouraged by....
an intimate bar in the dining area, the friendly and knowledgeable staff, and the communal spaces - namely the comfy reading room, a secluded movie space, and the scenic outside terrace.
You should stay here because
tucked in the valleys of the most iconic mountain range in Portugal, the homely accommodations, impeccable service, and wondrous location inspire a sensorial escape from modern routine.
What took you there?

My companion and I had wanted to explore Serra da Estrela for a few years, and what better time than summer to head to the mountains (while most head south to the beaches of Algarve). Advocates of combining high and low when traveling, we decided to lock in a few nights at Casa das Penhas Douradas on the strength of its reputation, its alluring aesthetic, and its overly proud connection to the region.

What was your room like?

The room, although modest in size, was efficiently designed, providing sufficient space for comfort and storage. Same goes for the bathroom, with its selection of Le Labo products and wonderful shower set up. Equipped with a satellite TV, central AC, a hairdryer, and a phone, the room’s warm tones and birch wood finishes echo the property’s overall aesthetic and feel. This hotel is mostly all about the details and our room was no exception; from the large windows facing the incredible landscape and the positioning of the power outlets, to how comfortable the bed was, time spent behind doors was very gratifying. Mid-afternoon visits by the staff delivering some freshly baked cookies, fruit, along with the next day’s menu and list of proposed activities, was also a great touch.

What about the venue

Casa das Penhas Dourada, which opened in 2010, was conceived by João Tomás and Isabel Costa. Taken by the Serra da Estrela, the couple decided to invest in the region and its available resources. The first of its kind in Portugal, the ‘Burel Expedition Hotel’ embodies and provides an authentic mountain tourism experience, a place which allows visitors to rediscover the beauty of the simplicity of things. It is a great destination for hikers but also for visitors seeking tranquility and musing. Inspired by local architecture and created to integrate its surrounding, the deceptively minimal interior design – defined by the juxtaposition of earthy elements such as birch, cork, and granite – is couched in functionality and alluring details. From striking original furniture pieces by designers such as Hans Wegner, Bruno Mathsson, and Pedro Silva Dias, to artistic works by the likes of Catarina Pinto Leite, the hotel’s decoration reinforces the architecture’s cozy and homey feel. An ideal getaway for couples or a solitary retreat, the space and overall vibe of Casa das Penhas Douradas can also be suitable for families with children (several were there during our stay).

Tell us about the destination

At 1500 meters of altitude, in the heart of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, Casa das Penhas Douradas is set up for guests to enjoy their stay on location, whether it’s indoors or venturing outside. Inside there is the library, a Mountain Spa, and a heated swimming pool with a panoramic view, and for the outdoors, the hotel provides mountain bikes, in-house designed trail maps which will guide you to incredible view points, and (during colder seasons) sledges and snow shoes. That being said, beyond the incredible surrounding 250km of mountain biking and trekking paths, there is much to explore nearby, especially during spring and summer when the weather is more forgiving. While highly recommended spots like the Rossim Valley lagoon (‘Vale do Rossim’), a plethora of historical landmarks, and Casa de São Lourenço are still manageable by foot, places such as the Glacial Valley of the Zèzere, SkiParque, and a handful of charming villages (namely Mantegais, home to the inspirational Burel Factory), are within a scenic hour drive from the hotel.

Who did you meet there?

Although interaction was limited due to social distancing, we met a High Court judge from Lisbon and the hotel owner’s daughter. Maria Fátima Bonifácio, a famed Portuguese historian, was there finishing her upcoming book.

Have you stayed here? Let us know your thoughts!

Surrounding Activities

Burel Factory

This incredible factory produces a sustainable Portuguese handmade fabric and is open for public tours - and a great gift shop.

Burel Factory

Torre

The region boasts numerous hikes that offer beautiful landscapes and surreal views. The Torre, featuring the highest peak in Portugal, is a great starting point.

Casa de São Lourenço

The sister hotel to Penhas Douradas is worth a visit for its panoramic view of Manteigas, stunning interior design and award winning restaurant.

Casa de São Lourenço