I’m serious. There’s an actual fox staring back at me at the top of the hill. It’s a bit like a unicorn – except for the sparkly horn, long mane and shiny coat.
Ok, it’s nothing like a unicorn. But still qualifies as otherworldly encounter.
It’s 8am as I feel the sweat and my heart pumping. I accidentally left the Ipod in the room as I made a quick escape away from the kids to squeeze in a morning jog (mummy, mummy, where are you going?), That’s before stuffing my face in carbs at the hotel breakfast (homemade, local, sustainable – surely that makes it all ok?).
When I spot the rabbit on the path ahead of me I totally expect it to jump away at the speed of light. No way, Jose. The guy literally shows me his fluffy, white backside as he teases me – come on woman, is that the best you’ve got?
“You know, people haven’t been shooting in the estate for so long that the rabbits are really chilled around people” the horse riding instructor Filipe explains, my rabbit whisperer dreams instantly shattered.
I get it. That’s the vibe at Sao Lourenço do Barrocal – where the bucolic Alentejo meets luxury escape.
It’s my second visit in 3 months. I love it – a lot. I could probably live there if they had Prime delivery and Reformer Pilates classes.
Right, darlings. I realise this is a serious overstatement. But I’ve definitely fallen head over heels – even if it’s a long distance relationship.
Sao Lourenco do Barrocal is a farm resort in Monsaraz, in the middle of the amazing Alentejo countryside. Fabulous for either families or couples, this is the perfect spot to unwind and connect with nature – over some seriously yummy food and lots of options to stay active. Or just chill by the pool as you stare at the green plains – that’s fine too.
This is not your high octave holiday spot, with kids club activities around the clock and loud back to back fitness classes and DIY workshops. The outdoors is the playroom. You live at a no rush pace, as if time had stood still. Proper reset.
These are the 5 reasons why I love Sao Lourenco do Barrocal – and you probably would too.
1. The horse riding experiences
Go for a sunset ride, climb up the medieval trails to the Monsaraz castle or go for half day trip around the immense Alqueva lake – picnic & drinks included. Try the one hour carriage ride with the family for an adrenalin filled tour of the grounds. Or just let the kids have their first taster of what it feels like to ride on a horse. For all levels. Amazing horse riding instructor included – the kind who always has a great story to tell and knows exactly where that herd of wild horses are hanging out.
2. The super spacious houses
I could fit my first Vauxhall flat on the ground floor of my two bedroom house. Oh boy, and those with terraces? Fabulous. The kitchen is super handy to whip up a salad – to compensate for the aforementioned hotel breakfast. And it even comes with a Nespresso machine included – thank you! Oh, Insta lovers – the wifi coverage is the best I’ve seen around that part of the world.
3. Lots of ways to stay active
Discover the estate on a bike or morning jog. Head to the gym for an evening sweat. Go for a swim in the pool. Ride a horse (see 1. above). Help the kids climb trees/ rocks/ hills. Be a kid and climb trees/ rocks/ hills. Note: keep a stash of plasters at hand.
4. The Susanne Kaufmann Spa
Gorgeous, tranquil oasis where every detail has been thought through. Probably the most spacious treatment rooms I’ve ever been to. Indulging organic skincare by Susanne Kaufmann that will take you to another dimension – I had to buy some goodies to bring back home with me – this lavender spray is my new favourite! Have either a facial or massage (I tried both), there’s no way you can go wrong.
5. Sunset at the restaurant
This is what memories are made of. Order a glass of Dona Maria Rose, some delicious nibbles (you’re going to love the pasteis de massa tenra) and sink down on one of the chairs facing the horizon. Grab a blanket for that extra cozy factor. The kids can roam around freely in the great outdoors until late and you can just let go and do nothing. Bliss.
Speaking of food. Sadly it has become overwhelmingly clear that without a serious avo toast on the menu my plans to move indefinitely to Sao Lourenco do Barrocal must be put on hold. I know it’s not a local tradition say, as much as a melted cheese and ham toastie, but maybe I could bring a supply of ripe avocados next time and we can take it from there?
Ok, this is when I book my next trip. Who’s coming?
For more outdoor family adventures check A City Girls’ Glamping Survival Guide!