Vale de S. Torcato

Words: Joana Jervell
Photos: Rui Jorge

Just a few minutes from the centre of Guimarães by car, we find the hotel Vale de São Torcato, namesake of the picturesque town in which it is located. Having opened its doors in 2017, as soon as we set foot here we realise we are in a special place, where it is immediately clear that art and nature coexist in harmony.

The project was the brainchild of Armindo Carvalho, subsequently brought to fruition by his friend, architect Augusto Antunes, founder of local atelier CREAR. Inspired by its rustic surroundings, he sought to preserve the essence of the place while endowing it with a contemporary feel, in order to meet its guests’ needs for maximum comfort and well-being. As well as the frequent use of wood (in some cases reminding us of the slatted traditional granaries common to the Minho region), the decor luxuriates in the best quality fabrics, from the sublimely soft sheets (400 thread count, 100% cotton) to the warmth of the scattered velvet cushions.

In cosying up to art, one of the unique, unifying elements found in the different spaces of this boutique hotel, it celebrates the work of two local talents, true “ambassadors” for the project, Armindo tells us. It’s impossible to resist the ample, delightful charms of the interiors and lush outdoor spaces, complimented by the bright, sometimes provocative canvases of Pedro Guimarães, nestling among the stone, iron and wood sculptures by Dinis Ribeiro. Amongst the beautiful gardens, another of the owner’s passions, it’s worth mentioning the existence of more than 40 species of camellias, sourced from the Horto Camélias Park Flavius, the work of António Assunção, a very important contributor to the Vale de São Torcato project.

Welcoming and cosy (“we have no desire to be a hotel for the masses,” insists Armindo), 14 accommodation options are available (with two further additions coming soon), with different layouts that are suited to both families and couples.

Conceived and exquisitely furnished to function as either a summer or winter retreat, there is no lack of amenities and activities to keep guests busy all year round: the gym; outdoor swimming pool (heated from March to October); TV lounge, with board games, library, and open fireplace; a corporate room, ideal for business meetings for up to 30 people; and finally, a spa with an indoor pool, Turkish bath and a massage area with panoramic views. And lest we forget, there is the bar-restaurant with its pleasant outdoor terrace, and the mini golf course, which has been fully landscaped into its surroundings.

“We are committed to offering our guests the utmost in relaxation and comfort, with a touch of luxury and sophistication,” explains Armindo, whose irreverent and creative personality naturally shines through in all aspects of the hotel. Besides its intimate nooks and crannies, offering cherished moments of privacy for all who set foot here, there is the warm welcome of the staff, the soothing symphony of birdsong first thing in the morning, and the pealing bells of the majestic Basilica of São Torcato, visible from your hotel balcony. Reason enough for us to say, you’ll not want to leave this oasis of peace and tranquillity.

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