I had a feeling it was going to be the skylight.
And it was.
Every time we go on a trip as a family I always ask them – my partner and six-year-old daughter – what their favourite moments were.
After we checked out of L’and Vineyards, a 32-suite Relais & Chateaux retreat set over 3,000 square metres an hour south-west of Lisbon in the Alentejo region, my daughter pinpointed operating the remotely controlled cover for the skylight above our huge double bed as the prize-winning moment in time.
The idea behind the feature is to allow guests to watch the stars in bed.
MailOnline’s Ted Thornhill checked in to L’and Vineyards, a 32-suite retreat an hour south-west of Lisbon. Above is the retreat’s stunning outdoor pool
Vine and dandy: L’and is a vineyard hotel, which makes its own very impressive wine, and offers a host of wine-based activities
They were sadly absent during our squally October visit, but said daughter cared not a jot once she realised she could press a button and make something move back and forth.
Meanwhile, we parents relished the way the skylight flooded the room with light during the day. And a whole host of other facets of this alluring property.
There was the vastness of the bedroom, with its Scandi-chic décor and swish en-suite; the bewitching black-slate indoor pool and beautiful outdoor pool; the striking, white-washed modernist architecture by Lisbon-based studio Promontório; the exemplary service and the excellent cooking.
Ted and his family were accommodated in a luxurious double room (above), which featured a skylight that allows for star-gazing at night and floods the room with light during the day
Operating the electronic skylight cover was a trip highlight for Ted’s daughter
This image shows the swanky lobby, which features striking furniture and a long fireplace
Sip, sip, hooray: Ted savoured ‘the sheer tranquillity of L’and, with its rows of vineyards, olive groves and small lake’
We also savoured the sheer tranquillity of L’and, with its rows of vineyards, olive groves and small lake.
Then, of course, there was the wine. L’and, after all, is a vineyard hotel, which makes its own very impressive wine, and offers a host of wine-based activities.
We participated in a ‘make your own wine’ experience with L’and’s knowledgeable head sommelier, Goncalo Mendes. In the hotel’s refined tasting room, I was pitted against my other half in a competition to blend L’and wines made from the Alicante, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional grapes into a personalised version.
After a blind taste test I was declared the (narrow) victor, with my winning blend professionally bottled up and corked in the hotel’s winemaking facility – a lovely touch.
L’and’s ‘bewitching black-slate indoor pool’ (above) is one of many features that impressed Ted
Ted and his partner participated in a ‘make your own wine’ experience with L’and’s knowledgeable head sommelier, Goncalo
Wine-derful: The Scandi-chic rooms at L’and start at around £352 a night
The drive to the hotel was a thrill for Ted – as it involved crossing the 17km- (10-mile) long Vasco da Gama Bridge (above)
A guided tour of the nearby historic city of Evora (above) is one of the activities that L’and offers its guests
Other enticing activities offered by the hotel include a visit to the hillside citadel in Montemor-o-Novo – a national monument dating back to the 13th century; a hot air balloon ride; star-watching in Alentejo’s Dark Sky Reserve; and guided tours through the nearby historic city of Evora. Classified by Unesco as a Cultural Heritage site, the settlement is encircled by a ring of medieval walls, harbours a Roman temple, and is crowned by an imposing cathedral.
Even if you do none of these, you’ll get a thrill just driving (or being driven) to the property from Lisbon Airport, because both routes take you over incredible bridges – either the 17km- (10-mile) long Vasco da Gama Bridge or the Golden Gate-style Ponte 25 de Abril.
We rumbled over the former going and the latter on the way back. Both wowed – eye-catching bookends to a property that, with or without the stars out, is a stellar option for a relaxing break.
Ted was hosted by L’And Vineyards, where rooms start from around £352 a night at the time of writing. Visit www.l-and.com.
PROS: Tranquility, superb bedrooms (with amazing skylights), excellent food and wine, top-tier service, beautiful pools.
CONS: Bear in mind it’s around an hour outside Lisbon so a car is handy for visiting nearby sights.
Rating out of 5: 4.5.