Convento do Espinheiro, Evora Portugal master thread

Discussion in 'Starwood | Preferred Guest' started by SST, Oct 1, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. SST
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    SST Silver Member

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    We spent a few nights in Portugal at this beautiful property on a driving trip. I wish we had been able to stay for a week. It is, quite frankly, one of Starwood's most interesting properties and I look forward to returning.

    The hotel itself is built around a beautiful chapel and convent just outside Evora, Portugal. Finding it is a bit tricky. If you get off the first Evora exit from the freeway (travelling west, from Spain), or the second exit (travelling East, from Lisbon), follow the signs west toward Evora several km, and keep an eye out for a blue "Hotel" road sign. From one direction, it has a second "Espinheiro" sign, but the other direction (from the freeway) only says "Hotel". Follow the little road, and you'll come upon the Convento.

    The hotel grounds and the building are extremely pleasant. The hotel has a wine bar, the "Pulpitus Bar" and in good weather an outside bar in the convent cloister center. There's also a bar by the outdoor pool. The hotel has both outdoor and interior pools, a spa and health club. The rooms are superior. As Platinum, we were upgraded to a large suite just off the cloisters on the First (upstairs) floor. The room had a hugely spacious bathroom with amazing fixtures and a huge tub with a window. The shower was a rainforest head about 12" across. All bedding was Starwood's superb quality, and the air conditioning was top notch.

    TVs were 40" flat screens with actual HDTV, several English channels, and wireless was available throughout the hotel building, but not at the exterior pool, which is some distance from the buildings housing the lodgings. The chapel is an amazing work of art. The hotel offers tours at 5pm every day, and free wine tastings with the sommellier at 7 pm. We didn't catch a tour but did do the wine tasting; several excellent local wines were featured, and it was a good time.

    It is 10 min drive to Evora, a beautiful walled hilltown. We parked outside on the North end of town as it seemed difficult to find parking inside, and outside was free and only a few steps away. The walk through the town uphill toward the principal square and up to the Pousada and the Roman ruins is relatively easy and pleasant through neighborhoods with a real Portuguese character. The restuarants up in the square were unremarkable, but there is a superb pastry bakery, and several superb-looking places as you climb further up the hill toward the Pousada from the main square. The Pousada itself had what looked like an excellent restaurant, but we never had time to try it. Here's why:

    The Convento has what has to be one of Starwood's finest restuarants. We enjoyed it so much that we ate again on the next night. It's not inexpensive. Wine, which is typically about 3 euros a glass in this area of Europe, is 10 Euros a glass. But the quality of the food and the service, plus the surroundings, were well worth the premium price. On the second night, a large group had the restaurant booked until 9:30, and our American hunger really needed no later than 830 or 9; we dined in the courtyard of the cloisters, with the Barman doing double duty and the whole menu available out there, as far as we could tell. It was sublime. ABSOLUTELY the best gazpacho and fried mackerel we had on the Iberian peninsula as our appetizers. I had a super steak, grilled Portuguese style; Mrs. SST had wonderful fish. The local wine choices were superior; I tried several.....

    I can't say enough about the pleasant and helpful staff, from the woman who cleaned our room every day to the barman to the pool servers to the front desk to the waitstaff in the restaurant. There is much to explore in this area of Portugal it seemed; regrettably, we had no time to do it. Evora took our days, and with a couple drives around the area, and hot weather, we returned to the hotel pool to refresh and work on the tan.

    Our C&P reservation resulted in immediate posting of our Platinum Amenity points, but we have not yet received points for the two dinners, so I will have to follow up with SPG. I suspect we will return to the Convento again, despite my desire to try the Pousada at the top of town. Dinner alone was worth repeating, but the suite upgrade was an amazing stay. Portugal is in our future again.
     
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  2. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    Thanks for this detailed review. We think we are going to be in Portugal in December and based on your review it intrigued me enough to do some further research on the Evora area and we think we will spend a couple of nights at this property.
     
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  3. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I think I stayed here long before the property joined Starwood, when it was the private version of a posada. It's stunning but indeed hard to find.
     
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