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“A gem of gems”
Review of Herdade da Matinha

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Herdade da Matinha
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Cercal
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 9, 2012

This is an absolutely stunning place and a must-go-there-place for anybody looking for a laid-back, authentic and unwinding hideaway. In the middle of almost nowhere, two hours south of Lisbon, Herdade da Matinha and its really most charming and welcoming hosts, Monica & Alfredo, sport a combination to die for: excellent cuisine (Alfredo cooks), a super wine list and an atmosphere that just reeks tranquility and serenity. Loungy with deep couches & shaded daybeds everywhere, a super elegant woody pool, cool jazz playing in the evening and the whole thing surrounded by a most delightful greenery. Also treat yourself to a horseback ride that takes you to some most spectacular views of the surrounding area - and the Atlantic Ocean lying under the sun in the horizon (rode a beautiful, very rideable Haflinger mare). A place you do not want to miss and a place & people you do not want to leave again.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank AdamEstrup
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 20, 2012

Quinta da Matinha

Good things:

The beautiful surroundings (garden/ horses/rooms)
things to do: horses/yoga
good decoration

Bad things:

breakfast poor:
just had to eat: bread with ham / cheese / sweet corn flakes
to drink: milk and juice
really EXPENSIVE dinner 35€/person/just food (you eat very cheap, near the farm (10 € / maximum))
around the homestead is no light in ways that give access to places of prominence
Horse rides are too short
No Tv in the rooms

Neutral as regards the friendliness of the managers
Do not know if I will return because it is too expensive for what it is

  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank Marisa A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HerdadeMatinha, Manager at Herdade da Matinha, responded to this reviewResponded May 23, 2012

Dear guest, we appreciate your time and thank you for your review. First of all we are glad you have liked the house and decoration of it. It's our goal to make sure our guests are happy and have enjoyed staying at Herdade da Matinha, so your feedback is very important to us. Our spirit is total relax so we do not have tv's, only in a specific living room, but we really want guests to disconnect from the outside world. Regarding dinner time, it's our goal to offer more than a meal, a culinary experience, therefore, we try hard to serve creative dishes, that's why we offer starters, 2 main dishes and dessert, with a different menu everyday. Our breakfast includes freshly squeezed orange juice, milk, tea and coffee, as well as daily baked bread from Alentejo and several jams, cheese, ham, fresh sliced fruit, cereals, scrambled eggs, fresh daily cake. We would really like your comment on what could we add to make the breakfast a better experience. Regarding the horses, we tell our guests about the different activities and time for each one. We hope we can receive you again in the nearby future and thank you again for your comments. Herdade da Matinha Team!

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Reviewed January 23, 2012

Sometimes you arrive at a place and you know at once you’re going to like it. That’s how we felt, when we arrived at Herdade da Matinha in early January 2012. In a remote valley, 15 minutes from the Atlantic coast, lies the herdade: two guest houses located on a fairy-tale property full of plants and fruit trees, grazing horses and a swimming pool as icing on the cake (ok, in January only for 10 seconds). The guest houses are arranged with loving attention to detail. They both have a dozen of guestrooms and provide generous common spaces with cozy sofas to relax in front of a burning fireplace. The whole interior was less rustic than we thought and could be featured in an interior design magazine.

We stayed in a lovely room in the main house, which was even more spacious and classy than the website suggested. The rooms there actually consist of two rooms, separated by a window. They have a little terrace in the back, as well as a little lounge bed in front of the entrance.

We ate in the restaurant of the herdade on both nights of our stay, and we didn’t regret it. The atmosphere in the restaurant was warm and intimate, as Monica, Alfredo and their family have their dinner in the same room as well. The prix-fixe menu was freshly prepared in the open kitchen, usually four delicious courses (think Jamie Oliver style) at a very fair price.

We cannot share the partly negative opinions mentioned above. We found the hosts and the whole team to be very friendly and approachable. You could always go to the kitchen and request snacks or sandwiches. Even when we didn’t order anything, Monica brought us tea and cookies to the fireplace. She recommended us nice beaches in the area and both, she and Alfredo, sketched us out a great drive route off the beaten paths for our way back to Lisbon.

If you’re a nature-loving and relaxed type of tourist willing to spend your holidays far away from crowded package tour deals, then you’ll like the herdade as much as we did – no matter if you’re travelling on you own, as a couple, with friends or family.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with family
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Thank Susanne M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HerdadeMatinha, Owner at Herdade da Matinha, responded to this reviewResponded March 19, 2012

Good afternoon from sunny Alentejo!
Many thanks for your kind words.
We have started from now on to reply to our guests and we are so happy that you will be the number one :)
We hope to have the honour of receiving you in our cozy country house again.
All the best :)
Mónica & Alfredo

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Reviewed August 3, 2011

We spend 3 nights here in mid-July and enjoyed the stay very much. The setting is quiet, remote and perfectly suited for a relaxing vacation. Immediately upon arrival I felt myself unwind and slow down. We stayed in a junior suite with our 8-year old daughter. The room itself was a bit small and we were a somewhat challenged to find room for all the luggage we had with us from 6 weeks of travel across Europe, but there is really not much reason to spend time in the room with so many places to relax outslde. Our double bed was fine but the slats that held up the mattress on our daughter's bed kept popping out and causing the mattress to sag in one spot. There was a trundle bed for a 4th person, which we didn't have to use but if we had, it would have taken up even more precious floor space. Unlike a previous reviewer, we took our room key with us and never faced the wrath of Alfredo. The room also had AC but we never used it because the nights got so cool.

The grounds are rustic and not manicured like one might find at a snazzy resort, which didn't bother us at all and added to the rural charm of the place. While there, we took walks on the grounds or along the dirt roads and really enjoyed the vegetation. At that time of the year the apples, plums, figs, and blackberries were ripe for picking although we rarely saw the restaurant staff availing themselves of this bounty.

The pool was nice although a bit cool for my wife. There were a lot of children there and I can agree with the one reviewer who felt it was hard to relax by the pool with so many kids running around. It didn't bother us but I can see that being an issue.

The food was good but not great, particularly for the price of 35 Euros per person and 10 Euros for kids. I'm not a wine expert for Portugal but we felt there was a decent selection of wines from the region for an acceptable price (11 - 24 Euros per bottle). Each night Alfredo was very gracious and would recommend a bottle with the meal. By the way, we got along fine with him and never picked up on the arrogance that many other reviewers mentioned. I should add that we speak no Portuguese. We take the hotel's word for it that they source local foods but we were surprised to see none of the fruit in season from the estate being used in the cooking. We also were disappointed with the kids' meals. On the first night we were pleased to see the children received what the adults did but without the spicy Asian sauce, but on the next night they got the same soup as the night before and then a dried-up piece of pork whereas the adults got fish followed by beef. The last night kids got the same soup one more time and then ... fish sticks. I couldn't believe that we were being served Mrs. Paul's at a gourmet restaurant 15km from the Atlantic. On top of that, the adults were served a tasty pork dish that our daughter much preferred. We would have liked to have had the option to choose which soup and entree our child would receive.

More than the food our main issue with the dinners was the late seating. Dinner was served around 9pm each night, and we are just not the types who like to go to bed on such a full stomach. There was also the issue with our daughter who is usually in bed by 9pm! She hung in there but we would have appreciated an earlier seating. In the future we would probably grab dinner in a nearby town and then perhaps enjoy a bottle of wine on our terrace and go to bed with our food more digested. As a comparison, we had a wonderful meal at Tasca do Celso in Vila Nova de Milfontes of veggie soup, delicious grilled fish, 2 beers, and 2 coffees for 25 Euros. The way we are, we would have preferred that meal over the dinners at the Herdade each night. Having said that, there is something nice about strolling over to the dining area for a meal in such a peaceful setting without having to worry about driving back on winding roads and dirt paths.

Breakfast was good with fresh fruit, tasty bread, cheeses, yogurt, and cold cuts but it never changed. It was set up inside but we chose to eat outside on the nice deck. The one thing about the breakfast that miffed me was that Alfredo would come in each morning and make himself a very nice looking crepe. Perhaps that was available to us but it was never communicated. We also were surprised that we were never offered eggs from their own chickens.

Once we opted for their sandwiches (3 Euros each) for lunch and thought there were very tasty. There is also a more extensive lunch menu if you want to eat there.

The absolute highlight for our daughter was the horses on the estate. Although the lessons were not cheap (roughly 35 Euros per hour), the instructor Johanna was outstanding and was wonderful with the children. She spoke fluent Portuguese, Spanish, German, and English and was happy to have us help her with the care and feeding of the horses. Already on the 2nd day Johanna led our daughter on a beautiful 45-minute horse walk around the estate. A major plus.

Other than the minor criticisms mentioned so far, the only other issue we had was not feeling very informed about the hotel. We were shown our room and told about the pool and the 9pm dinner seating but that was it. I expected to find in the room an outline of the different amenities but it was not to be found. As a result, we found ourselves seeking out English speakers who could explain to us how to get to the beach, how to sign up for a horse lesson, when breakfast was served, if we could pick the fruit on the estate, where the wifi worked (wifi supposedly only works in the lobby but we picked up a signal in our room), how to order lunch sandwiches, what the local vegetation was, what the history of the Herdade is, if we could purchase a bottle of wine, if we could have a crepe for breakfast, etc. Maybe we were too used to the standard binder in US hotels that list all the options and nearby sites. We didn't even get to ask about the yoga that is mentioned on their website. If Alfredo is reading this, a one-page outline of all the amenities would be greatly appreciated.

The beach, by the way, was wonderful. We spent each day at Malhao which is about a 15-minute drive from the Herdade. It reminded us a bit of the southern CA coastline around Malibu with its cliffs and surf but there was none of the exclusivity you find in Malibu. It was very family friendly, peaceful, and never crowded even on a Saturday with temps in the mid-80s. Each day after the beach we would grab some food in Milfontes (where we had that one excellent grilled fish meal for 25 Euros), a charming, unpretentious town.

One other note is that we had a hard time finding the Herdade when we arrived. We finally asked in our broken Portuguese in the nearby town of Cercal and got pointed in the right direction.

All in all, we would go back but probably arrange our dinners differently.

Stayed: July 2011, traveled with family
2  Thank Knoedelmann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 30, 2011

Having read some not very positive tripadvisor reports and arriving travel weary and looking rather grubby, I was not sure how we would be welcomed at Herdade de Matinha. To put it simply, with open arms!
Monica (always working yet impossibly glamourous), Alfredo (a charismatic host) and their whole team have created a warm, welcoming and hip hostelry where no guest's request is too much trouble.
Rooms are in the upper and lower house and my partner and I stayed in one of the new rooms in an annex to the lower house (gorgeous!). My mother and sister stayed in a twin room in the upper house. Both were lovely - ours had a small patio out front and a lovely deck out back shaded with an olive tree. In both houses there are many living rooms of different sizes to relax in during the day and at night the guests gather in the kitchen, the dining room and the patio adjacent for a magnificent evening meal. The mix of guests when we were there was mostly Portuguese families, a lovely Dutch family and us (UK/USA mix), so (rightly) the main language is Portuguese but Alfredo and Monica seem to be fluent in about five other languages so no barriers there and all were made equally welcome.
The food (breakfast and dinner, snacks and picnics on request) and wine list were excellent and very fairly priced (seemed amazing value to us coming from London).
There are extensive grounds to walk through, laden with fruit trees and beautiful plants and trees. The pool area is great for relaxing and never seemed to be crowded, long swimming pool good for real exercise and there are also horses on site. My mum walks with a cane but was able to get around using the well lit paths throughout the property.
This is a very special property and we were so sorry to leave after just one night but are planning a return. There is so much to do on site and in the vicinity - lovely beaches 15 mins. drive away and some interesting villages.
This is a great place for families but also romantic for couples and although the Herdade was packed full of children of all ages when we were there, they were beautifully behaved and had plenty of places to disappear off to after dinner and leave the adults to linger over the wine!
If you're not used to Portuguese roads, get clear directions to get to the Herdade or it could be difficult to find, specially after dark. We found that there seems to be a dual numbering system for the roads which took a few days to get used to!
Thank you to Monica, Alfredo, their family and team for a very special stay.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2011

The general idea of this place is being in a forsaken location embedded in a beautiful landscape where you can do whatever you please.
It would have been so if there weren't so many young (too young) children there in that specific date. Reading or relaxing by the pool was impossible, because you couldn't even hear the birds...
You breathed an informal atmosphere - but we felt it a little bit too informal. Upon arrival, it took us 15 minutes wandering about the facilities trying to find anyone to assist us. But, once found, they welcomed us very well.
Our package included breakfast as well as dinner. Breakfast was tasty, although it was rather scarce for people who cannot eat pork or are vegetarian.
For dinner, the menus were - at the very least - bold. The entrees were divine. The wine selection was broad. The two-course meals always had meat and fish/seafood. But, once again, the meat was always pork, which left us only the vegetables alongside. However, that detail aside, it was all very tasty - though in smaller quantities... After all, it is a gourmet vacation site. We would like to suggest the purchase of an expresso machine.
We particularly enjoyed the idea of the owners' and their family dining alongside with the guests. It was refreshing.
We would like also to point out the immense amount of water wasted away because the boilers were so far from the lodgings. The first time we tried to use hot water, we thought the boiler was turned off or not working, so we asked for some help. The staff told us it was normal and that we had to let the water run for about 5 minutes straight for it to heat up... Personally, it broke my heart so I ended up having cold showers. As it was summer, it wasn't so bad.
We respect the owners' idea - peace and quite and being away from the "outside world" - but a TV set in the bedroom would be a huge plus, especially if you're staying for more than a weekend.
We highly recommend horse-back riding. It's only 45 minutes long, but it's so worthwhile it. The horse carers (a girl and a boy) are exceptional. I'm very sorry I didn't get their names... The horses are pure-breed and magnificent specimens. I rode on Oscar's back and he was very docile. Mind you it was my first time and I loved it.

All in all, those were very good days and it was worth the money spent. It is another level of having your vacations. And we took the chance to know a bit more of our own country. Thank you, Monica and Alfredo.

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank MicMestre
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 2011

Herdade da Matinha exceeded all my expectations. Set in the most beautiful part of Portugal, I spent 3 forgettable days there. Food was out of this world, rooms were beautiful and comfortable and the owners were charming! Strongly recommend!
Janette Ramsay

Stayed: March 2011, traveled with friends
Thank Matinha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Herdade da Matinha

Address: Cercal 7555-231, Portugal
Location: Portugal > Alentejo > Setubal District > Cercal
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Cercal
Price Range: $98 - $184 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Herdade da Matinha 4*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Herdade da Matinha is a country house in the middle of the nature in Alentejo, very close to the beach. We have 20 rooms (7 classic double rooms, 8 romantic rooms, 3 familiar rooms, 2 suites). A place for relaxation and rejuvenation, Herdade Da Matinha is surrounded by old oak trees. Start the day with breakfast in bed or on the covered veranda. Meals are prepared by the owner and feature farmhouse breads and cheeses, as well as renowned Portuguese wines. Sample local specialities made with homegrown, organic vegetables.Spend time exploring the area on horseback. Alternatively, you can soak up sun while relaxing next to Herdade Da Matinha outdoor pool.The entire building is kept in white, earthy tones, with comfortable seating areas inviting you to take it easy. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Herdade Da Matinha Hotel Cercal Do Alentejo
Herdade Da Matinha Portugal/Alentejo - Cercal

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