Hotel Pousada de Tavira - Convento da Graca Hotel 5 star
Easyexperts
Rua D. Paio Peres Correia Tavira, Portugal -
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Amy Adejokun Section editor

A charming and historical upmarket and slightly eerie place to stay, the Pousada Convento da Graça (or Pousada Tavira for short; and 'pousada' pronounced 'posada'), is an 18th century convent that was converted to a hotel and opened in 2001. The peaceful but slightly cold pousada (large house in English) is laid out around an angular cloister, but is nevertheless a charming place to stay that stands out from the rest. Set by Tavira castle in the old part of town where cobbled streets lead to quaint parks. This is the place to stay if you want to immerse yourself in local culture while staying at an upmarket hotel within the village itself. Although the hotel doesn't refuse children, it is more of a place for couples or friends due to the general quiet atmosphere, even in high season.

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  • Culture
  • Rest
  • Gastronomy
  • Charm
  • Flight
    • Hotel Pousada de Tavira - Convento da Graca

      Pousada de Tavira - Convento da Graca   -   © Julien Ferret / EASYVOYAGE

    • Hotel Pousada de Tavira - Convento da Graca

      Pousada de Tavira - Convento da Graca   -   © Julien Ferret / EASYVOYAGE

       
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    Location 1.0 /10

    The hotel is located right in the old centre of the small fishing village of Tavira. The village has a rich history as an important fishing port; the village was also an important Moorish city in the 1700s and ruins of forts and settlements are still visible all over the village. The hotel is about an hour's drive east on the N-125 from Faro, the capital of the Algarve. The nearest beach is about 20 minutes away on foot or a few minutes by water-taxi once in the centre of town on the banks of the river Formosa.

    Accommodation 7.20 /10

    The pousada has 36 rooms in total: 21 twins, six doubles, five suites, three superiors and one special. The rooms all look similar decoration wise; neutral colours, hardwood floors, taupe colour rugs, and wenge stained veneer furniture. There isn't much to the rooms, except the overall cosiness of the space. All have a small flat-screen television, plenty of wardrobe space, Wi-Fi internet connection, air-conditioning, a safe and mini-bar. The windows, which do not open for safety, let in plenty of light throughout the day, and for guests staying on the 2nd floor, the views of the terracotta rooftops of the convent and houses beyond is lovely to wake up to.

    Despite the comfort factor, the rooms are a little dated and are in need of a lick of paint here and there. The scratches and nicks in the furniture, the peeling wallpaper and the stained rugs really could do with a bit of attention. The rooms are fairly modern, which some guests might find is a bit of shame - perhaps furniture in-keeping with the rest of the monastery, some hardwood furniture for example, might have been more suitable in conjuring up an even more authentic atmosphere.

    The highlight of the rooms are the bathrooms. Spacious and with a full-sized window, the bathrooms are light and bright and somehow feel luxurious despite their simplicity and lack of frills. Bathrooms products are all of an undisclosed brand.

    A tip for holidaymakers visiting Tavira outside of summer, you might feel cold here at night, but do not hesitate on asking for a duvet or blanket at reception as there aren't any stored away in the wardrobe.

    Overview 7.70 /10

    Brimming with original features from its days as a convent, the pousada's distinct atmosphere and charm originates from here. It is evident that the historic element of the hotel is the major draw here. During renovation work, ruins of an Islamic settlement dating back to Tavira's Moorish days were discovered under the foundations of the convent. After an archaeological expertise, the dig site has been kept and is on display through a window in the bar area. Apart from the ruins, the general structure of the convent has also been kept, and our favourite feature is the original stone staircase.

    The structure is built around a courtyard with something that looks like something that used to be a water feature decorated with an oddly shaped statue of a young girl looking up towards the sunlight. The rooms are on the first and second floors, while the shared spaces are on the ground floor.

    There is a small car park to the left of the main entrance (reception must be contacted every time the door needs opening), a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, a bar, gym and a cosy living area close to a large stone fireplace on the first floor. As well as restoring ancient historical buildings, the owner is also fond of local contemporary art - works are actually on show throughout the hotel - it is worth mentioning that most of the works are of a particular taste that might not be most people's cup of tea. Otherwise, in terms of health and fitness, there is no spa as such onsite, but the hotel works with outsourced therapists at the guest's request.

    Overall, the convent is a pleasant pousada to spend a couple of nights before moving on, but despite its architecture and friendly staff, the atmosphere is cold, some would even say clinical. Guests rarely mingle together here, so if you are after somewhere to stay where you are sure to be left alone, this is the place.

    Food and drink 8.70 /10

    The convent has a reputable restaurant laid out in a corner of a cloister with indoor and outdoor seating lining the corner gallery. Guests dine here on crisp white tablecloths with well-polished silverware and glistening wine glasses. The staff has a friendly and casual yet professional manner. The food is typical Portuguese with an upmarket twist - a well thought-out combination between land and sea produce adorns the menu. We tried the grilled squid on a bed of potatoes, which simply melted in the mouth. The wine list is extensive and comprises mainly of local wines (Algarve and Alentejo regions). Although Portugal is well-known for the all-round quality of its produce, the pousada restaurant has selected some of the best in the village.

    Although à la carte for lunch and dinner, the breakfast consists of a buffet with a mix of fresh fruit, pastries, breads, cold cuts, cheeses and eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and bacon. However, disappointingly for an establishment located in the heart of orange country, the orange juice is not fresh.

    The downside to the restaurant in the mornings however, is that the tables are all set out in the shade, instead of in a corner where the sun rises - it is therefore essential to take a light sweater with you at breakfast until the days are as hot as during the summer. Otherwise, with regards to the atmosphere of the restaurant, it is fairly nondescript; the type where you can hear your neighbours' cutlery scrape gently the bottom of their plates. For guests looking for something a little livelier, there are other options in Tavira.

    Otherwise the hotel has a cosy and contemporary bar adjoined to the restaurant, but there is hardly anyone ever in there apart from for the occasional nightcap. The view here is of the pool surrounded by the original ruins of the convent. The key feature of the bar however, is the view onto the underground dig site, with the exposed ruins of an Islamic settlement that was found underneath the existing building during renovation.

    Beach 6.70 /10

    The beaches in Tavira are beautiful, especially out of season, as most beaches will be deserted - great if your ideal holiday is spent on a beach all to yourself! But not so great if you actually want to have a swim without the necessary squirming ceremony to get into the cold water, the Portuguese will tell you. The best time for a seaside swim is in September, when the water's been heated up throughout summer and tourists have gone home. Our preferred beach is behind the Vila Galé Albacora Hotel, in Quatro Aguas, which sits right on the banks of the Formosa River encased in fine white powdery beaches. The area is part of a protected natural park so tourists must take all their rubbish with them after a day here in order to help keep the area clean.

    To know

    The Pousada is actually part of the association, Pousadas of Portugal and it iss also part of the Portuguese Pestana Hotels and Resorts group.

    As far as the internet goes, the first hour is free and then it is approximately £3 per hour thereon throughout the hotel.

    Equipment

    • Shuttle bus
    • Car park
    • Handicap access
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Spa

      massage, beauty salon, spa, Turkish bath

    • Swimming pool
    • Sports equipment

      gym, beach volley, golf, water-polo, fitness, sports

    • Whirlpool bath
    • Safe
    • Non-smoking rooms
    • Meeting room

    advantage

    • The historically-charged atmosphere and charm.
    • The pleasant pool area behind the convent building.
    • The deliciously cooked local food at the hotel restaurant.

    disadvantages

    • The clinical, cold atmosphere.
    • The rooms need freshening up.

    Traveller Reviews

    • Overall Score nc/10
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