9 October 2015

Where to stay in Vila Nova de Cerveira: Hotel Minho

When we were heading towards Vila Nova de Cerveira, we knew the forecast was not good. Although it is quite unusual for Portugal to be so rainy in the middle of September, we were going to be so unlucky as to experience probably the worst weather during these two weeks of our holidays. Once we arrived at Hotel Minho, I managed to catch the last glimpses of the sun before the weather turned into a chilly wind and rain combo for the following days. Was I worried? Not at all.

Hotel Minho, a four star hotel and spa in the far north of Portugal, is located very close to the border with Spain, in a small village called Vila Meã and a five minute drive from a charming Portuguese town, definitely worth taking a walk in, Vila Nova de Cerveira. Its main element of identification, a deer, is noticeable from the main road, and accompanies the guests of Hotel Minho along their stay in the cutest forms (see the pictures!). Somehow it immediately makes you think of the Scandinavia, but a deer is actually a symbol of Vila Nova de Cerveira, present in its coat-of-arms and overlooking the town from one of the mountain peaks.

However upset we could have been because of the horrible weather, which made impossible our planned bicycle trip in beautiful surroundings along the river, we were not at all. The spa we discovered downstairs, perfectly combining natural light, white marble and chestnut wood, turned out to be even greater bliss with the storms outside. Cold wind hitting the windows was not a problem while I was relaxing in the warm jacuzzi and the sound of rain drops on the glass was even more tranquilizing with a favourite book in my hand. 

Hotel Minho's staff, especially women working at the spa, were increadibly warm, caring and focused on making our stay the most comfortable and pleasurable possible. The Abhyanga and Melissa massages we were given and the post-massage relaxation time in the tea room and special relaxation room, were a cherry on top for our stay before we travelled back down to Lisbon. 

Breakfast is served in a bright room with the view at the outdoor swimming pool and is quite varied; there is a selection of fresh fruit, cheese, ham, yoghurt, muesli, bread and cake. The restaurant, however, is located about 100 meters from the hotel's building. It is not similar to the beautiful minimalistic design of the hotel in any way, it actually looks like an ordinary restaurant, but the food served by chef Vinagre tells you everything about Minho's hospitality. 

We decided to eat there twice, so we had a chance to taste a number of different dishes. First of all, the portions at Braseirão do Minho are insanely big (make sure you arrive there very hungry) and the food freshly prepared with the use of Portuguese ingredients. An octopus and beans salad or a traditional alheira sausage offered by the chef was definitely a good start. If you are into fish, you should try the delicate breaded octopus fillets with aromatic tomato rice or grilled bacalhau with garlic olive oil (the way the Portuguese use their top quality olive oil in their cuisine is pure magic). For meat-lovers a succulent Picanha à Braseirão is a must-eat. If there is any free space in your stomach after the main dish, you should not go out without the delicious homemade pudim abade de Priscos. A glass of Porto at the end, just to put the seal on this Portuguese feast, is always a good idea.

Hotel Minho showed me that the lack of warm Portuguese sun (what I have always associated Portugal with) does not have to mean that the holidays are ruined. Now that I think of it, this hotel must be a great place to stay even during the winter when the fireplace is burning and the saunas are welcomingly warm. The wine bar, always ready to serve a region's speciality, vinho verde degustation or varieties of Port wine, must be a cozy place during cold months too. Conclusion? It is a fantastic weekend gataway despite the weather.

Practical info:

  • from 85 EUR/night (breakfast included)
  • the room in the pictures: Double Room 
  • location: near the Spanish border, one hour drive from Porto airport (OPO)
  • the spa offers a wide spectrum of rituals to be enjoyed both alone and with your beloved
  • Braseirão do Minho restaurant is available next to the hotel
  • address: Estrada Nacional 13 – Vila Meã, 4920–140 Vila Nova de Cerveira, Portugal (www)

I was welcomed to Hotel Minho as a guest. As always, my opinion is my own.


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