As a Starwood Preferred Guest member, I decided to splurge and cash in points for the Convento do Espinheiro, one of Starwood's Luxury Collection properties. For you Starwood members, it is usually 10,000 points per night although you may be able to find some deals under Starwood's "Cash and Points" specials.
If you do not have Starwood points at your disposal, the Convento's rates are very reasonable for the quality of the property. I've checked during various seasons and room rates usually start around EUR $160-$180 per night to about EUR $220 during high season. Suites and rooms in the historic wing are likely to be higher, but no matter which room you stay in at the Convento, the experience is lovely, relaxing and luxuriously indulgent.
This is one of the best hotels that I've ever stayed at (and I say this having stayed at a few, not a lot, of Small Luxury Hotels or Leading Hotels of the World.)
We had the opportunity to stay in the Princess Isabel suite. In 1490, Princess Isabel of Spain came to Portugal to wed Prince Afonso of Portugal. The Princess was housed at the convent before the wedding. Legend has it that before the wedding, the Princess was visited by Prince Afonso at the convent and that they spend the night in her room. It is sad that, on that same night, lightning struck, destroying part of the church, close to the rooms where the couple had nestled, leading many to believe that this was surely a case of divine punishment.
Being able to stay in a room of such grand history was a treat (you go Princess Isabel!) It was a luxurious room, complete with wooden windows and balcony doors, a fireplace, a luxuriously modern bathroom with double sinks, jacuzzi tub and full rainshower showerhead. Plush cotton terry robes and slippers were provided and placed just so each evening during turndown.
Treat yourself to the Convento do Esphinheiro--it's worth every Euro...or Starwood point!
Unique Quality: The Convento do Espinheiro was built in the early 1400s and is connected to the legend of the Virgin Mary above a thornbush (espinheiro) that was sighted in Portugal around 1400. The original convent and church still remain on the property, but have been converted to a luxury hotel and spa. The church is still a functioning chapel, and the renovated property still maintains a good deal of the building's original details and rooms.
The property is located about a 5-minute drive from the historic centre of Evora and is set amid olive and orange groves. The property is quite large, and it is nice to take a walk around the gardens and see some of the historic markers on the property (See my Photo Album on the Convento on my Evora travel page.)
We were greeted at the hotel with a small glass of mint liquer, typical of the region. We were later treated to a plate of local pastries and fruit in our room. The staff at the hotel are warm and friendly. The property is breathtaking--from its historic wing and courtyard, to its functioning chapel, to the modern wing overlooking the pool, gardens and groves. The on-site spa, Spa Diana, was heavenly and included a very large indoor pool as well.
The service was impeccable. We felt like special guests throughout our stay. If you do not have a car (we took the bus from Lisbon, and then a taxi to the property from the Evora bus station), the hotel has 24-hour car service that will bring you to the historic centre and other nearby places for free.
The Convento do Espinheiro is not cheap, though I felt very reasonable for the quality of the property. I would surely go back in a heartbeat, and feel it is one of the best hotels I've ever stayed at in my life. If you have an opportunity to do so, take a side trip to Evora, stay at the Convento, and enjoy one of the nicest stays you'll ever have in your travels.
Directions: Located among a grove of orange, olive groves, it is about a 5-minute drive from the historic centre of Evora.
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Address: Convento do Espinheiro, Evora, Alentejo, 7000, Portugal