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Quinta da Romaneira, Pedroso 

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Tel: 351 254 732 432
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From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:

After a two-hour drive from Porto through the cobblestoned streets of Pedroso and up a steep hill above the Douro River, it's hard not to arrive at the Quinta da Romaneira tense and somewhat resentful. But the moment you walk through the iron gate, any discomfort is swiftly forgotten. The 990-acre property, which contains a working vineyard and seven restored nineteenth-century farmhouses, accommodates only 38 guests at a time to ensure individualized service and justify the hefty price tag. They needn't worry about the latter: With its stunning views of Portugal's wine country, impeccably attentive staff, and eclectic decor (such found objects as handcrafted ceremonial pieces from New Guinea, Indian wooden sugar silos, and a huge snakeskin employed as a tabletop), Romaneira is a rare experience. Even food gets a new twist here—there's no central restaurant, no menus, no ordering. Breakfasts of fresh fruit, jams, croissants, and coffee are served on a precipice overlooking the Douro, and lunches of salad greens, octopus, and codfish could be served under tall grapevines or on a staffed motorboat plying the river. Dinner is pure theater—an amuse of roasted almonds, olives, and fried rosemary is offered in the herbarium filled with illuminated mounted butterflies, followed by a multicourse feast in a courtyard surrounded by stars and candles. Romaneira's aged ports are magnificent, especially the 1988 Colheita—a bottle of which you can take home as a souvenir.

—2008 Hot List

When to go: Early September, when the heat of summer (and glut of tourists) subsides.

Which room to book: Any room on the first floor of Velha, the westernmost house, for direct access to the herbarium and the L-shaped pool with Douro views.

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