Casa das Penhas Douradas Design Hotel and SPA is a Boutique Hotel located in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, at an altitude of 1500m. It is surrounded by unspoilt nature. It is a place of rest, comfort, contemplation, silence and never-ending views. Let me tell you it’s just stunning – the restorative air, the huge skies, the wooded, boulder-strewn hills…Especially the phenomenon which lends its name to this location and the hotel – the rising or setting sun painting in gold the two protruding rock formations called Penhas Douradas – Golden Penhas. You are now in the Penhas Douradas, Serra da Estrela, the first mountain resort in Portugal, a place of great beauty and charm, where you can find unique exemplars of 19th-century mountain architecture…
Casa das Penhas Douradas Design is a 120 years old hamlet refurbished using natural materials such as cork and wood, featuring clean lines, blonde wood and touches of colour in locally made felt rugs and stool covers. Yet whilst the landscape is rugged, this boutique hotel has manicured, contemporary good looks. There are squashy sofas and wood burners in the lounges, 18 swish bedrooms, and a heated pool, sauna and spa to ease aching muscles. Floor-to-ceiling windows maximise the glorious views and the polished lacquer walls give the hotel a Scandinavian feel. One of the core concerns of the hotel is a respect for the environment, as well as for the values of the Natural Park that surrounds it.
Waving goodbye to local mores, the hotel features epoxy floors, lacquered panelling and a seamless union of glass and wood. The resulting rooms are light and uplifting with a Scandinavian feel. In the upper wing, the Cork rooms feature original pieces of 60s furniture by Nordic designers.
The style at Casa das Penhas Douradas is all about rediscovering beauty in simple things, just as with Nature: the warmth of the wooden panels, the rawness of the wool, the comfort and ease of the chairs, the softness of the curves throughout the hotel… a discreet luxury. Also incorporated in the hotel are design pieces from the 50’s and 60’s. Everywhere there are vintage wooden skis set off by funky 50s style lamps. Chalet-style bedrooms, some with balconies, all with stunning views of river valleys, are cool and calming with spotless, state-of-the-art bathrooms.
A service worthy of a 5-star property, the team is always looking out for you. During my stay at Casa das Penhas Douradas, I left my carding in the restaurant and in the lounge, only to find it placed beside my usual breakfast seat. I mean, anywhere else that piece of clothing would have been lost, but at the Casa das Penhas Douradas, there is nothing but honest and unpretentious service.
The rooms at the Casa das Penhas Douradas boast the comfort of a wooden interior, warm colours, and the ever-present feel of wool. The Serra da Estrela mountain practically flow into the rooms through the panoramic windows, transmitting the vastness of the landscape. I stayed in a Cork room ( 17), a spacious room with its large window (3×2.4m) and panoramic views over Serra da Estrela mountain is located in a cork-covered building. Birch wood is used to line the walls and ceiling, adding to the intimate character of the room. Beds are dressed with bright Burel wool textiles, and comfy spa mattresses guarantee a great night’s sleep. You also get iPod docks and writing desks.The rooms include a duvet, down pillows, central heating, a hairdryer, personal hygiene products, dressing gown and slippers, telephone, station for iPod, cable internet, LCD, DVD-player, and complimentary fruit and water. My ensuite bathroom has massage showers with translucent glass panels. Expect towelling bathrobes, slippers, a hairdryer and a big pile of towels as well as Portuguese vintage toiletries. There are 18 rooms, spread over the upper and lower wings of the hotel. The Veranda rooms on the lower level are smaller but have private terraces where you can drink in the extraordinary views from the comfort of armchairs.
Breakfast & Restaurant
I covered the Restaurant at Casa das Penhas Douradas in my Serra da Estrela Restaurants post, so you can go there for more information. I would just like to point out that besides sleeping without being disturbed, breakfast is my top priority when choosing a hotel, and let me tell you that breakfast at Casa das Penhas Douradas is something to look forward to. It is not this superfluous overly extended buffet. On the contrary, it is adequate to the size of the property and most importantly everything is kept fresh and replace on the spot. They don’t make 5 kg of scrambled eggs just to let them sit for hours on end. No, they make a small portion of silky eggs covered in fresh parsley and when it is gone, you ask for some more. And you don’t have to consider yourself lucky (or pay more) to have a portion just for yourself. This is their philosophy and one that I love. The same goes for the coffee, the fresh fruit, the local bread, the fruit smoothies and homemade pastries. It is like having breakfast at your foodie friends house.
Cosy up in the living room, with the stunning views of the Serra da Estrela mountain pouring through the panoramic windows, the warm colours of the wooden interiors, the smell of a lit fireplace, and the comfort of the wool around the hotel…The library is stuffed with books to read it at your leisure.
Spa & Pool
The hotel has an interior heated swimming pool with a panoramic view from its huge floor to ceiling windows. Indulge in some uniquely contrasting sensations, such as watching the falling snow outside whilst enjoying the heated pool or sauna inside. The mountain spa features a Vichy shower and several rituals and massages using oils infused with Serra da Estrela plants. I had a mountain herbs facial and massage with the revitalising aromas and regenerating properties of juniper, lavender, heather, and rosemary of Serra da Estrela.
Activities around the Hotel
Penhas Douradas is also the starting point for lots of footpaths and cross-country bicycle trails through Serra da Estrela Mountain organised by the Casa. The hotel provides bikes and kayaks. Slip out of bed for a hearty breakfast, then lace up your walking boots and head out for the day. Hike through glacial valleys, past ancient mountain villages and the vast granite tors (penhas) which give the area its name. Swim in natural lakes, picnic by waterfalls, then head back through the verdant scenery for a well-deserved afternoon tea. You’re 1550m above sea level, hidden in majestic wilderness and way off the beaten track This is a year-round destination: come in spring for mountain flowers, summer for perfect walking conditions, autumn for blankets of red-gold leaves or winter to go snow-shoeing and skiing.
This Casa das Penhas Douradas s post is a part of a series of 8 posts I wrote based on my journey to Serra da Estrela on January 2016. Please find the links o the other articles bellow:
This Casa das Penhas Douradas post was written as part of my ongoing collaboration with the Centro de Portugal Tourism Board. All opinions are my own. Photo credits to my inspiring friend Emanuele Siracusa.
Rates from 400€ per night with breakfast included for the Cork room in which I stayed in.
Penhas Douradas, Apartado 9
Tel: (+351) 963 384 026
Tel: (+351) 275 981 045
FAX: (+351) 275 981 046