Escape the trappings of 21st century life at the enchanting Torre de Palma Wine Hotel.
Nestled at the heart of the Alentejo wine region, it would be quite an understatement to say the Torre de Palma has a long and distinguished history.
Settling here during the 1st century Roman occupation of what would eventually become the Kingdom of Portugal, generations of the Basilii family were tremendously successful in producing celebrated wines and olive oils which demanded a high price right across the empire. In what feels like a very secluded location today, Roman Torre de Palma was situated on a busy trade route – from Olisipo (Lisbon) in the west, via Monforte and Merida, to the port of Valentia (modern-day Valencia). As their agricultural prosperity grew, the Basilii family’s reputation as expert horse breeders grew in parallel, with the famed Lusitano breed becoming the war horse of choice for high-ranking Roman commanders and governors. The nearby archaeological remains of the Villa Lusitano-Romana de Torre de Palma (and the slightly less well-preserved Villa Romana da Horta da Torre) provide a fascinating snapshot of five-hundred years of Roman life in the region.
Following the establishment of Portugal as an independent Kingdom, the country’s first great royal dynasty, the House of Avis, took control of the estate. Their rural palace, built in 1338, wouldn’t be unrecognisable today – particularly the ‘torre’ (tower) which was both a grandiose display of wealth and a practical lookout across the eastern Alentejo plains to the border with neighbouring Castile (now Spain). A collective farm was established following the Carnation Revolution in 1974 – a Unidade Colectiva de Producio, which Jose Saramago discusses visiting in his 1981 book Viagem a Portugal – but the social and economic uncertainties after the fall of the Estada Nova regime had a detrimental effect on both the land and the building.
Current owners Ana Isabel and Paulo Rebelo took ownership in 2007, and after an extensive period of renovation the Torre de Palma Wine Hotel welcomed its first guests in 2014. Architecturally, this boutique, five-star hotel is typically Alentejo: thick, reflective-white walls and strategically placed windows ensure the building stays naturally cool throughout the day. Across the hotel’s nineteen rooms and suites, the décor mixes classical elegance with a contemporary-rural style – there’s a minimal-feel throughout, which is cleverly punctuated by the addition of colourful fabrics and comfortable furnishings.
Double rooms are generously-sized; the Superior rooms more so with their additional living space. Junior suites have the feel of a traditional Alentejo casa and they’re a good choice for families, with the addition of additional beds. The Master suite is largest of all, with a double bedroom, a single mezzanine bedroom, two bathrooms, a well-equipped kitchenette and access to its own private pool. There’s also a shared outdoor pool, and a spa and wellness centre.
Viticulture is still the lifeblood of Torre de Palma, and its boutique winery employs traditional artisan techniques in the production of its seven varieties of wine – their blending of the Arinto and Alvarinho grape varieties (both normally associated with Vinho Verde producing vineyards of the north) is particularly popular. Tours and tastings are daily, and events showcasing the best of the region’s seasonal cuisine are held in the hotel’s outstanding on-site restaurant throughout the year.