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Hotel Rural Casa dos Viscondes da Várzea

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ABOVE: I stayed in the "General's Bedroom," which was a military officer's hideout during the Peninsular War in 1808. INSET BELOW: A painted armoire in a guest room, and the French doors of the general's quarters.

PhotoAbout the hotel:

The Hotel Rural Casa dos Viscondes da Várzea has 37 rooms in the main house and several adjacent buildings that have been converted into rooms and suites. One room has a king-size bed; the others have two double beds.

photoNo two rooms are furnished alike, and some have distinctive layouts: The "General's Bedroom," where I stayed, has an internal flight of stairs leading down from the doorway in the corridor above. Early in the Nineteenth Century, when Napoleon's forces invaded Spain and Portugal, the room served as a general's hideout. (Today, the room is less hidden; the bushes between the house and the garden have been trimmed back, offering a view from the wood-and-glass doors in the foundation walls.)

Upstairs, the Casa dos Viscondes da Várzea has large sitting rooms with couches, overstuffed chairs, coffee-table books, and other amenities. An arcaded veranda overlooks the garden, and during the warmer months, guests can descend a stone staircase to café tables with umbrellas next to trees, flower beds, and grapevines.

Although the manor house dates back to the 1600s, the building is thoroughly up to date, with modern bathrooms and a Wi-Fi network for laptop users. It also has a large, cheerful, attractively furnished room downstairs for wedding receptions and other group events. (The room wasn't being used during my visit, but I went inside to admire the ceramics collection.)

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