Discover fascinating facts about Portugal’s best known historical hotels

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2017

Picture by Nikki Dawson


‘Rustic and genuinely Portuguese’

  • In the early 1940s, head of the National Propaganda Secretariat António Ferro wanted to create hotels that were both rustic and genuinely Portuguese. In an effort to promote tourism in Portugal, he came up with the idea of establishing pousadas.
  • These accommodations should be, according to Ferro, ‘Small hotels that look nothing like hotels’. The first regional pousada, which paid special attention to the local Alentejo gastronomy, was built in 1942 in the city of Elvas.


Formerly owned by the state

  • From the 1950s, pousadas were often located in historic buildings such as monasteries, castles and convents, in order to offer their visitors a sense of tradition and culture. Previously abandoned monuments that were turned into a historical hotel include Óbidos castle (1950), the fort of Saint John the Baptist of Berlenga (1953), the Lóios convent (1965), the fort of Saint Philip of Setúbal (1965) and Estremoz castle (1970).
  • Originally, all pousadas were owned by the Portuguese State. After the privatisation in 2003, the hotel chain belonged to the Pestana Pousadas Group.


More than just a hotel

  • Traditionally, the word ‘pousada’ means ‘inn’ or ‘hostel’, but nowadays it’s registered as a trademark, which means only the historical hotels of Pousadas Portugal can be called pousada. In Brazil, however, a pousada can be anything from a simple B&B to a luxury resort; there are literally thousands of them in South America’s largest country.
  • Nowadays, the 33 Portuguese pousadas are divided in four categories: historic, historic design, charm and nature. This distinction has to do with the architecture and surroundings of the hotel.


Tavira, Estoi & Sagres

  • In the Algarve there are three pousadas: in Tavira, Estoi (pictured) and Sagres. The historical pousada Convento de Tavira is in the former convent of the cloistered Augustinian nuns, which was founded by King D. Sebastião in the 16th century.
  • Nature pousada Sagres is located on the cliffs near Sagres, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the Fortaleza de Sagres. Historical design pousada de Estoi is the 19th century Palácio de Estoi, which is famous for its red-pink façade, plastered ceilings and other neo-Baroque and neo-Rococo features.


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2017


Posted in Typical Portugal.