Alentejo Marmòris Hotel & SPA – Vila Viçosa, Portugal
The maximum expression of the marble heritage in Portugal
Vila Viçosa is a picturesque village in inland Alentejo, also known as Alentejo’s princess with a significant historic value. In fact it was the former residence of the Portuguese Royal Family, whose palace is impressive and is worth visiting.
Beyond its historic importance, Vila Viçosa is also known for the grandeur and quality of its marbles, since it is located in the heart of the Portuguese Marble Route.
What to do/visit in Vila Viçosa?
- Visiting the Castle and Royal Palace – Paço Ducal – The Palace’s interior is absolutely impressive and is worth a visit. You can take a guided tour which will last around one hour. No pictures or photos allowed.
- Visiting the Marble Museum – You can learn more about the history, technical details, ornamental work and the importance of marble in this region at the dedicated Marble Museum – Museu do Mármore. Towards the end of the visit, there is an interactive area, where you can watch a video explaining the entire extraction process, history, usage of marble and importance of this industry to the area. Entrance fee is €1,50
- Visiting a stone quarry – If you are interested about the more technical aspects of the marble industry and you would wish to visit a stone quarry in the heart of the Marble Route, you can book a tour with a specialized guide from the Portuguese Marble Route operator. These visits are available in English, Portuguese, Spanish and French.
However, in order to experience at fullest the marble heritage in Portugal, there is nothing like staying at Alentejo Marmòris Hotel & SPA, an authentic Marble temple.
It is much more than a hotel, it is an incredible experience and for that reason it will be the focus of this post.
Alentejo Marmòris Hotel & SPA – Vila Viçosa
Located in the heart of the historic center of Alentejo‘s Princess – Vila Viçosa, in 2015 in a former olive oil mill opened a five-star luxury hotel that constitutes a perfect tribute to the marble of this region, inserted on the Portuguese marble route. This sumptuousness is already recognized internationally, being nowadays part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World chain and is featured at the Michelin guide.
Behind the discreet entrance in gray tones with large marble vases, as we enter and are welcomed by the friendliness of Luís, the Storyteller, it is difficult not to be dazzled by the richness of this variety of marbles. In fact, the current owners of the hotel are owners of a stone quarry and marble experts, so this personal attachment is evident throughout the hotel, even though some initial features of the olive oil mill have been kept.
Luxury marble heritage
The first moment in which we feel this legacy of marble is at the welcome drink after checking in. We are taken to the bar, where we can contemplate the different types of marble from the floor (white, black, tiger, in golden and pink tones) to the black staircase with golden details.
Luís explains us that the different shades of marble represent different varieties (in this hotel 90% is Portuguese marble and 10% of foreign origin), being the white marble the most exquisite and most expensive of them.
The hotel has classic rooms, Deluxe, Deluxe Superior, Junior Suite, Family Suite and the sumptuous Arabian Suite.
In addition to the different typology of the rooms, the type of marble used also varies, giving it an exclusive character.
If in the classic room, the details of tiger marble (even the washbasins and bathtubs themselves are completely ornamented) already amazed us, we were teleported to one of the suites at Burj Al Arab in Dubai, superlative of the Arabian luxury when we entered the Arabian Suite (the famous suite 1001), located on the first floor.
Arabian Suite – Arabian glamour with a Portuguese touch
Following a courtesy of Luís, I had the unique opportunity of visiting the Arabian Suite, better known as the Suite of the 1001 nights. Staying in the Arabian Suite is a life-time experience that combines Arabian sumptuousness with Portuguese elements. It is a mix of Arabian decorative motifs with the most beautiful pieces designed by Portuguese designers.
Unlike the other rooms in the hotel, the Arabian Suite is an apartment. When we go up the initial stairs, to our right we have a living room with a large dining room, ideal for family evenings.
Between 2 bathrooms, one in pink marble and the other in predominantly tiger marble, we can see the master room and its bathroom: an elegantly decorated bathroom in which white and pink marble predominate, support columns with golden motifs, 2 long mirrors with Arabic motifs. Immediately to our right side, in the bedroom we see a double bed with black and gold furniture by Portuguese designers, where I highlight the incredibly beautifully ornamented golden mirror.
Throughout this suite, we should carefully contemplate its floor and ceilings, which are examples of great ornamental work and excellent taste.
Breakfast at the Pink Room
Next to the reception there is a room that gives access to a large pink lounge, where breakfast is served. In the current COVID context you need to book breakfast time at the check-in. I had the opportunity to sit outside, where the fountains are once again in marble. The variety of this breakfast was magnificent: from fresh juices, to hot dishes like scrambled eggs, pancakes, smoked fish varieties, cheeses and cold meats typical of the region, fresh fruit.
Dinner at the restaurant Narcissus Fernandesii
Alentejo Marmòris Hotel & SPA hosts the only restaurant in Vila Viçosa indicated in the Michelin guide – Narcissus Fernandesii by chef Pedro Mendes.
Having dinner at Narcissus Fernandesii means raising our standards to the highest level, without ever forgetting our Alentejo origins, as chef Pedro Mendes invites us to do.
There are 3 tasting menus to choose from: Menu da Vila, Menu Alentejano and Menu do Campo for vegetarian options. For a truly Alentejo experience, the Alentejo Menu will be an unforgettable gastronomic journey.
This journey begins with the different types of bread, all of natural fermentation and self-made by the restaurant. Afterwards, we are welcomed in Alentejo through the Amuse Bouche, which includes elements from the Alentejo seaside and interior: (tasting should be done from the middle – shellfish from the Alentejo seaside and chard, to the right – typical Alentejo smoked sausage, acorn and Caviar Rio Frio and ending at the left with the acidity of the orange).
I wanted to keep the journey through Alentejo seaside, where I highlight the fish of the day (on that day it was seabass) poached in seaweed. Moving towards Alentejo Interior, the guinea fowl stewed in craft beer from Vila Viçosa is a must.
Before moving on to desserts, by courtesy of the chef, we are pleased to taste the pre-dessert which is an acorn filled with white chocolate and crunchy elements.
For me the dessert A Laranjeira da Vila is undoubtedly one of the stars of this restaurant – it is a tribute to the multiple orange trees that abound in the streets of Vila Viçosa and allows us to get to know the orange in 7 textures: from granita, cake, crunchy, ending with a few drops of oil.
The other dessert available combines cherry with chocolate.
Outdoor swimming pool and pool bar
In the summer months we can relax at the outdoor pool, enjoying once again the beautiful white marble at its edges. Each lounge chair has a table so that we can order the bar service and rest in the hot sun.
The pool bar offer is one of the most complete and abundant I have ever known – from fruit juices of whatever fruit is available, through fresh regional cheese sandwiches with pesto sauce to heavier options like pasta or meat dishes, it’s a refreshing option for a family lunch or an afternoon snack.
In order to enjoy pure moments of tranquility and relaxation, there is nothing better to do than scheduling a massage at the Stone Spa, which has been awarded the World Luxury Spa Awards several times in a row. Surrounded by a scenario of incredible beauty, in which the use of wonderful types of marble stands out, it is undoubtedly a mandatory stopover during your stay.
This spa consists of 4 different treatment rooms, Hammam and whirlpool tanks. There is also an indoor pool and gym.
Marble belongs to Vila Viçosa like the Roman temple belongs to Évora. A true marble temple was born in Vila Viçosa, which is currently one of the most luxurious hotels in Portugal and in the world, guaranteeing guests an absolutely unique stay. To go to the limit in this exclusivity line, book the Arabian Suite and let yourself be teleported to the Arabian Nights in Dubai while in Alentejo.
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