Imagine stepping back in time to the 18th century, when it took 300 workers to run a manor house, with formal gardens and large grounds to maintain. Today, a visit to Hotel Casa da Ínsua, located in central Portugal, still allows guests to experience what was once only available to Portuguese royalty.
This historic Baroque-style hotel offers guests a five star experience accompanied with plenty of modern luxuries. History buffs may be interested to know that Casa da Ínsua was the second house in Portugal to have electricity – a big deal back then. Presently, hotel guests think nothing of having internet access in the bar area while being surrounded by antique furniture and a collection of 16th century plates. The hotel, with tours offered to guests and day visitors, is a grand art museum in itself.
My room was named the Miracle Suite, featuring dark antique furniture, high ceilings, private bathroom and a lovely view looking out to the formal gardens and lush hillsides of Viseu, Portugal.
Hands on experiences
Casa da Ínsua offers guests a very “hands on” experience during their hotel stay. My favorite memory of my visit to central Portugal was making sheep’s milk cheese at Casa da Ínsua. Not only was this a lot of fun, I was able to purchase cheese from the hotel and bring it back to the United States with me.
Guests are also able to enjoy garden tours, make and purchase jams and taste wines made by the manor house. There are plenty of things to see and do in Viseu. Enjoy traditional dishes of the Beira region and taste Dão regional wines or simply relax by the heated outdoor pool or wander the many gardens. There is also an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish bath and gym.
Hotel packages are available, with a very good gourmet buffet breakfast included in the price. The hotel restaurant also serves dinner and features Casa da Ínsua wines on the menu.
Hotel Casa da Ínsua review and photos by San Francisco-based travel, food, and wine writer Nancy D. Brown. Top photo courtesy of Casa da Ínsua. I was a guest of Tourism Centro Portugal.