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Vila Real de Santo António Pousada

Opened during the pandemic (2021), this is one of Portugal’s newest pousadas. Located in Praça Marquês de Pombal, in the heart of a town that borders Spain, the Vila Real de Santo António Pousada project involved restoring four historic buildings. 

One of them, which boasts an interior courtyard with decorative avocado tree, used to be a kindergarten. Nowadays, it’s home to one of the pousada’s three swimming pools. “When we first opened, local people would ask us if they could visit [the courtyard] because they used to play there,” says Hélia Carvalho, pousada manager.

The same thing happened with people who worked in the building when it was a customs house. They wanted to see if they recognised their old offices, which had been transformed into bedrooms. “These are historical buildings, which had been abandoned in the town centre, and people were curious”, says Carvalho.

The three main buildings are subtly interconnected, and in one of them, previously a mansion, the original tiles have been maintained. The fourth property is on the other side of the square and used more in high season, when the greater number of guests calls for it. It also has its own swimming pool in a Moroccan riad-style courtyard.

If that weren’t enough, there’s also a third pool. The smallest of the three, this one is lined with red tiles and located on the rooftop overlooking the river Guadiana, Spain and the town.

“This is a lighter, more modern pousada,” says Carvalho. Visitors sense the cosmopolitan vibe as soon as they get to the reception desk, which shares a counter with the hotel bar. Breakfast is served in the restaurant, in the same area overlooking the square.

The restaurant’s culinary concept was developed around its huge oven, serving a variety of pizzas with a reputation for excellence in the town. According to the menu, they’re made with dough that has fermented for “at least 24 hours” and topped with regional produce.

The “Algarve pizzas”, as chef Yuri Souza calls them, use local ingredients, such as tuna muxama (also good with garlic bread), orange preserve and Algarve paiola (cured meat). The fresh goat’s cheese from São Brás de Alportel plays lead in the reinvented cheesecake.

Vila Real de Santo António Pousada

In Praça Marquês de Pombal, right in the heart of the city, the guesthouse was born from the restoration of four historic buildings.

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