Hotel Highlights

  • Striking modern architecture and interiors
  • An unspoiled beach just five minutes’ walk away
  • Feel-good philosophy: earth-loving and laid-back

Overview

In rugged coastal Portugal, Areias do Seixo hotel is a stylish, eco-conscious retreat with an outdoor pool and scenic terraces. A modern, concrete-and-glass creation, it offers hands-on experiences just as cutting edge: guests can learn to pickle vegetables, pluck shellfish from the sea or help tend the garden. Expect a nightly bonfire with local wine and vistas of golden semi-sunburnt land and gleaming ocean.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Areias do Seixo with us:

For stays of up to two nights, a glass of wine each and a selection of snacks on arrival; for stays of three nights or more, an in-room couples’ spa treatment. Smith members will also receive a gift on departure (such as home-made jam, flowers or cookies)

Facilities

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Areias do Seixo Hotel - Torres Vedras - Portugal

Need To Know

Rooms

14, and four villas.

Check–out

12 noon, but flexible subject to availability. Check-in, from 4pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $345.43 (€250), excluding tax at 6 per cent.

More details

Rates include buffet breakfast (organic produce from the vegetable patch, bread and cakes baked in a wood oven), access to the spa and cinema room, and plenty of extras, including local wine and a bicycle tour.

Also

Indulge in treatments at the spa. Expect delicately perfumed essential oils, deliciously hot pebbles and expertly executed Asian methodologies.

At the hotel

Gardens, spa, cinema room, stash of DVDs, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: floating fireplace, fresh fruit, Damana bath products. Every room comes with a wooden patio: step out and enjoy the views.

Our favourite rooms

Rooms are graced with one of four design themes: Gold, Land, Tree or Love. Our favourite of the former is Love-category room Nha Cretcheu, which has an elevated four-poster bed with a frame hewn from slender wooden boughs, a seductive fireplace by the bed (with a stash of logs so you can stoke the flames), a Jacuzzi bath tub and an invigorating outdoor shower. Chandelier lights with spaghetti-thin crystalline threads add glitter, and there’s a huge bath tub overlooking the gardens. Terra is a cosy Tree Room with a wooden four-poster, a desk overlooking the garden, a Jacuzzi, his and hers showers, a fireplace and a terrace deck.

Poolside

The adults-only emerald-green pool occupies a sunken position overlooking the gardens, where grapes, tea, fennel, cabbage and beans flourish in the fruit and vegetable patches.

Packing tips

Gardening gloves; a tambourine/guitar/song book for the Fire Circle – the perfect place to showcase your musical talents. Flammable attire is best left behind.

Also

Every night, the hotel hosts a Fire Circle, where guests mingle around a bonfire in the grounds (free red wine lubricates conversations). Nuts, nibbles and traditional Portuguese folk music are provided.

Children

The hotel is more suited to adults than bairns: the spa and swimming pool are reserved for adults. That said, little Smiths aged 11-plus won’t be frowned upon: the restaurant has a menu for tots, extra beds are €75, and babysitting can be arranged.

Eco‐friendly

Sustainability issues shape the hotel, rather than being a secondary consideration. An abandoned chicken farm once occupied the hotel’s perch – when Areias was built, the farm was ground down and its materials reused. The hotel uses geothermal energy and solar power, and recycles as much as possible. Guests can even add green ‘experiences’ to their stay, including a compost circuit or an agricultural lesson with local farmers.

Weddings

This property is suitable for weddings

More details

Food & Drink

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Areias do Seixo Hotel - Torres Vedras - Portugal

Hotel Restaurant

Lugar da Horta has multicoloured, mismatching chairs, chunky wooden tables, and an eye-catching piece of reformed copper hanging from the ceiling. All three meals are served here: relaxed, unfussy food that sings a love-song to the garden’s ingredients. Begin each day with glasses of pulpy just-squeezed juice; later on, sample pata negra (Iberian black pork).

Hotel Bar

Some artfully placed furniture distinguishes the bar from the dining area. Bosa Nova beats provide a background for conversations over rum-sloshed cocktails, and despite all the concrete, glass and stone, there’s plenty of comfy furniture to kick back on.

Last orders

Mojito, morangoska, caipirinha and the ilk are mixed, muddled and drunk until 1am.

Room service

Staff will whip you up a snack or drink around the clock – just let them know what you have a yen for.

Smith Insider

Dress code

High-class hippie: ethereal Ghost layers in stone and putty hues, or gem-bright Matthew Williamson to spice up the neutral palette.

Top table

Every table has garden views, but we recommend sitting opposite the kitchen so you can watch the vegetables you picked earlier be dressed for your plates. For a romantic evening meal, stake out seats close to the terrace and gaze at the bonfire and stars.

Local Guide

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Areias do Seixo Hotel - Torres Vedras - Portugal
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Tras d’Orelha (+351 261 326 018) at Rua da Paz serves some of the area’s most succulent lamb, pork and duck dishes – unsurprisingly, since the owner is a butcher (he also bottles his own wine). Vela d’Ouro (+351 261 931 933) at 30 rua Jerónimo Vilarinho Lote, in Santa Cruz, is a wonderful place to sample the area’s succulent fish. Pão Saloio (+351 261 984 355) at 27 rua da Guerra Peninsular, Toledo, serves the best cod, a staple part of any Portuguese diet.

Local bars

Sample a local red or three at Manel Bar (+351 261 937 580) on Esplanada Antero Quental.

+ Enlarge
Rugged Costa de Prata

Areias do Seixo

Praceta do Atlantico - Mexilhoeira - Povoa de Penafirme, Santa Cruz, 2560-046 A-dos-Cunhados

Planes

Lisbon’s airport is a 35-minute drive away. British Airways (www.britishairways.com) and TAP (www.flytap.com) both fly direct from London to Lisbon; TAP also operates direct flights from Newark in the US to the city. From late May, BMI will operate a direct flight to and from London Heathrow and Beja, every Sunday morning (www.bmi.com).

Trains

Torres Vedras train station is 15 minutes away by car. The Portuguese national train service is Comboios de Portugal (www.cp.pt).

Automobiles

Torres Vedras is a 15-minute drive from the hotel. There’s plenty of free parking.

Reviews

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Areias do Seixo Hotel - Torres Vedras - Portugal

Anonymous review

by Stephen Bayley , Culture connoisseur

‘Luxury’ is a word nowadays often debased as executive – and even ‘design’ itself. Teams of international experts have been recruited to find a meaningful new definition. They are still at it, locked in a stuffy room with ankle-deep carpet, chandeliers and horrible gilt doodads. Their midnight sandwiches are served under silver cloches by belligerently obsequious w...

Read more

Areias do Seixo

Anonymous review by Stephen Bayley, Culture connoisseur

‘Luxury’ is a word nowadays often debased as executive – and even ‘design’ itself. Teams of international experts have been recruited to find a meaningful new definition. They are still at it, locked in a stuffy room with ankle-deep carpet, chandeliers and horrible gilt doodads. Their midnight sandwiches are served under silver cloches by belligerently obsequious waiters.

Meanwhile, Areias do Seixo is new-generation luxury, with no bed-facing plasma televisions, no room service, no minibar. The front door of the boutique hotel on the Costa de Prata is locked and you have to ring a bell to get access. As Mrs Smith put it, beaming with delight in the austere grey concrete bathroom that looked like the wash house of a 1927 Viennese socialist housing project, ‘Imagine explaining to our parents that we like this!’

You have to pay to go on a trip to pick the mussels they serve you at lunch. On the other hand, there are no grim flunkies loitering for a €20 tip for lifting a handbag; and, here, while you are having dinner, countless candles are lit in your room. The views of the dunes and the awful crashing Atlantic rollers are thrilling.

Areias do Seixo is an hour north of Lisbon. The name can be roughly translated as ‘pebble beach’. It opened in Spring 2010 and is a rarity on the over-developed and under-charming Portuguese Oeste coast: a new building of outstanding character. The Portuguese have generally been reluctant to participate in contemporary Euro culture, but architecture is an exception. Eduardo Souto de Moura and Alvaro Siza are respected international figures and the architect of Areias do Seixo, Vasco Vieira, and his interior designer, Rosario Gabriel, make their own distinguished contribution to the language of late Modern design.

On a seven-hectare sloping site, 10 generous bedrooms, each a little different, are arranged facing the sea and the dunes at ground level. Above them and set back, a vast duplex penthouse and the smaller, but extremely appealing, room where we stayed. So, a mere 12 rooms in a building with a footprint of over 3,000 square metres. Put it this way: a regular tourist hotel would have 50 rooms in the same area. Senses of privacy and privilege are a reality here, but so too is a vast, exciting public area.

If I say ‘concrete and glass’ you will get the wrong impression because the unapologetic modernist materials are handled with taste and intelligence. Even for a worldly observer of new buildings, there is a measure of surprise in the spaces and ingenuity in the details that are very pleasing. What about garden lights made from plumber’s plastic conduit? They work! But architecture is, most of all, about arrangements of space and light. Here they are arranged beautifully.

Besides, the polished concrete and raw metal surfaces are relieved by plenty of fabrics, water, gnarled mature olives, wood-burning stoves and souk-sourced artefacts. Maybe the latter trend a little too much towards cuteness, but that’s an insignificant flaw. Normally ‘design’ when applied to hotels is an insulting travesty, but here it is worthy. After years of thinking about it, I know exactly what comprises a good building: it’s one that makes you feel engaged, optimistic, pleased, flattered. Areias do Seixo does all of that. And its capacious showers with two huge drenching heads, sunken bath, obscenely snuggable duvets and very private terrace contribute to other things as well.

But even Mr and Mrs Smith have to eat. Lunch and dinner at Areias do Seixo are not much different in content or style and, for anyone who remembers the Portuguese tendency towards old, wet cabbage, revelatory. The very visible open kitchen serves starters of morcilla with fried potatoes and egg, beetroot couscous (much, much better than it reads) and mussels as big as your fist. Followed by unctuously stewed octopus in parsley and garlic or cataplana, the local fish soup. This area is stiff with vineyards and the hotel has a wine list to prove it. Afterwards, your own virtually private beach.

Areias do Seixo is so beguiling that there is not much reason to leave. But in the land of Vasco da Gama, exploration is a nagging moral imperative. Half an hour south is Ericeira, as charming a village as you can expect hereabouts. We ate at Furnas, a restaurant on the wave-battered rocks. You choose your fish on entry and it arrives at the table after the first glass of vinho verde has expired. Half an hour north in picturesquely fortified, but tourist despoiled, Obidos, a stately lunch at Castelo, Portugal’s very first pousada. Or borrow a hotel bike and ride up the coast, reminding yourself, head down in the gale as you puff past the enormous praias and vast horizons, that Portugal is much more an Atlantic than a Mediterranean country.

At this point I am going to write something that nearly makes me wince. Areias do Seixo is a very personal project of proprietors Goncalo and Marta Alves. The essence of their concept is that this is an ‘experience hotel’. Hence, the mussel-hunting and an invitation on our first night to eat a bacalhau and local wine feast in a neighbour’s private cellar. And, every night before dinner, a bonfire is lit near the dunes and guests are invited to sit around and drink agua pe (the first pressing, or ‘foot wine’) while Marta strums a guitar. Now, Mrs Smith and I are not very clubbable and what I have just described would once have driven us screaming to the airport. But it says everything about the intense charm of Areias do Seixo that a circle of fire, a guitar under the stars and rough peasant wine seems absolutely correct.

One morning when we woke, we found simultaneous fog and rain swirling and splashing on a very wet, grey terrace. Again, instead of wishing we could flee, we thought: ‘That’s fine. We won’t go anywhere. We’ll stay here and enjoy the hotel.’ Now that is luxury.
 

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