Colégio Charm House, Portugal

The unique Colégio Charm House was previously an 18th century palace that was originally built for the King of Portugal’s retired cook. The building then became a boys boarding school, hence the name Colégio, but was left abandoned for about 30 years before reopening in July 2021 after José Carlos and Cristina Guevara renovated the building into a charming 20 bedroom hotel.

Each room is unique in its shape, size and interior and have all been individually decorated from the owners globetrotting escapades. It’s worth checking what room suits your needs when booking as some have private swimming pool, others private jacuzzi, exclusive terrace, unique mezzanine and two are housed in an angelical old chapel with a preserved 18th century altar. All have access to the delightful larger outdoor heated pool and communal areas that includes the games room where you can pick up a backgammon board and learnt to play for the first time, as we did.

The hotel has the feel of staying with your beloved aunt and uncle, in their lavish holiday mansion – as Cristina and José were great hosts that personally welcomed guests and were on hand to help out with advice about the local area, tell the history of the building, lend a hand to the already attentive staff and make you feel at home. The hotel has something for everyone and when we stayed the clientele consisted of everyone from families to romancing couples.

INSIDE – 7/10
The historical and elegant interior combined a mixture of modern and traditional luxury with ease. The restaurant which is run by local Chef Gonçalo Esteves sources all the ingredients locally and everything is make in-house. The menu choice is simply; fish, meat, shrimp or vegetarian, which you need to pre-order for the evening so that Gonçalo can source the ingredients for your ’surprise’ meal which delivers a warm, hearty, home cooked feast. Also make sure you take advantage of the exceptional menu-less a la carte breakfast that caters to your every need.

OUTSIDE – 7/10
The hotel is situated in Tavira, a lovely little town that is separated by the Rio Gilã in the east of the Algarve. The area seeps with history with Roman bridges, ruined castles, gothic and renaissance churches and a lot of Portuguese charm. Inquisitive types might even be able to spot a flamingo or two if they venture into surrounding saltpans and mudflats. But to be honest there is little need to venture outside the hotel as all your worries fade into insignificance and you sit back, relax and enjoy the home comforts and tranquil atmosphere as if you’re a family member.