The town of Tavira effortlessly combines Portuguese culture with Algarve sunshine, and the historic Pousada Convento Tavira one of its most treasured hotels.
To give the building it’s full title, the Convento de Nossa Senhora da Graca, da Ordem de Santo Agostinho dates back to the 16th century. Consecrated around 1568, this Jesuit college and convent was the religious and cultural centre of Tavira for almost two-hundred years.
Following the expulsion of the Jesuits in the mid-1700s, the building became a military barracks – it’s battalion famously suppressed the population of Tavira during Revolt of Measures, when the metric system was introduced in 1872. The army left in 1974 and the building fell into disrepair, before the Pestana hotel group purchased the convent in 2006 and set about restoring the building to its former glory.
As with so much of Portugal’s classical architecture, Pestana’s careful restoration has preserved a historically significant landmark and provided a once-derelict building with renewed purpose. The grand central courtyard is the Pousada Convento Tavira’s architectural highlight, and you’ll find these impressive cloisters are a welcome source of shade during the long summer days and a delightful backdrop to dinner in the evenings. There are thirty-six guest rooms in all – classic rooms, superior rooms and suites – with views of the private gardens or across the rooftops to the Galao River. The décor is warm and comfortable – the oak floors and antique-style furnishings giving a nod to the pousada’s classical origins.
Out in the gardens, there are two outdoor pools (one for small children) and a sun terrace, and the shared spaces are completed by the cosy bar and restaurant – the Restaurante Mouraria which offers an excellent selection of regional dishes, paired with the best Alentejo wines.
Location-wise, many of Tavira’s other historic landmarks are on your doorstep – the Castelo de Tavira, the Igreja da Misericordia and the Museu de Tavira – and a pleasant labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed terraces will lead you town to the Praca da Republica and the city’s popular riverfront district. The Galao River splits Tavira in two – it’s your route to the beautiful beaches of the Ilha de Tavira, just a twenty-minute ferry ride away.