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Review of L'AND Vineyards, Portugal

PHOTO: L'AND Vineyards from the hot air balloon ride over the property (c) Sery Kim

Affectionately termed “Portugal’s garden” for its bucolic terrain, the Alentejo region of Portugal covers nearly one-third of this small country and fills it with UNESCO World Heritage sites, cork plantations, wheat fields as well as sublime vineyards such as the gracious L’AND Vineyards.

This 22-room boutique Small Luxury Hotel member makes a powerful case for the unforgettable Portugese experience: L’AND seamlessly blends design, service, amenities and helpful staff to provide a soothing counterpoint to the “seen it all” luxury traveler.

PHOTO: View of the property from the L'AND Vineyard's lobby (c) Sery Kim

Located a 75 minute drive from Lisbon, upon arriving one is immediately struck by the architectural design crafted from the imagination of Marcio Kogan. Simple white boxes populate the vineyard, all artfully arrayed to blend into nature.

Then, when pulling open the gargantuan wooden doors to check-in, the eyes are widened to absorb the plush contemporary furniture designed in palates of muted navy, warm chocolate, a medley of beige hues and crisp whites, almost mirroring a gracious Argentinean home rather than a brightly colorful Portugese hotel. Mr. Kogan also utilizes over-sized fireplaces (both indoor and outdoor) as well as walls of windows to set the foundation for an integrated indoor/outdoor environment.

PHOTO: Ceiling of the L'AND Vineyards restaurant (c) Sery Kim

While the hotel itself seems small by sheer numbers, the layout of the the property leaves an overall impression of wide-open spaces. Even the rooms feel spacious, more akin to a large three bedroom apartment than a suite with a living room, a bedroom and a bathroom.

PHOTO: Entry to the Sky-villa suites at L'AND Vineyards (c) Sery Kim

Divided into either “Sky-view suites” (10 rooms) or “L’and view suites” (12), the major demarcations between the categories are two. The Sky-view suites have ceilings in the bedroom which fully retract to let you sleep under the stars and a plunge bathtub in the private garden terrace (it takes 4 hours to fill it). With a fairly nominal price difference -- rates fluctuate between $189 and $800, with a 90% occupancy year-round -- it is worth it to get the “Sky-view” suites.

PHOTO: Bedroom of Sky-villa suite at L'AND Vineyards (c) Sery Kim

PHOTO: Garden Plunge Bath at L'AND Vineyards (c) Sery Kim

But regardless of which suite one choses, the basic amenities of each suite are the same. An outdoor terrace with a fireplace which the concierge will come light; a large walk-in shower with a rainforest showerhead; an oversized bathtub easily fitting two; double vanities with Caudalie products; and a supremely comfortable king-size bed with soft sheets (the kind which feel like they have been washed a million times over).

Additionally, for those who crave exercise while on vacation, L’AND offers an outdoor pool and an indoor lap pool at the Caudalie spa. They also can arrange hikes, bike rides and a gorgeous hot air balloon ride.

PHOTO: Hot air ballooning over Alentejo, Portugal courtesy of L'AND Vineyards (c) Sery Kim

PHOTO: Deflating the hot air balloon at L'AND Vineyards (c) Sery Kim

But the can’t miss feature of the vineyard is the one-Michelin starred restaurant at L’AND. Careful construction of traditional Portugese dishes are enlivened with just enough uniqueness. For instance the entree of sea bass was given a twist of modernity with coconut foam as well as unique vegetables and then plated in a jinga-worthy display. Very fun.

PHOTO: Sea bass at L'AND Vineyards (c) Sery Kim

PHOTO: Dessert at L'AND Vineyards (c) Sery Kim

Overall, while Paris, London and Rome has a lock on top-notch luxury hotels, for those seeking out an adventure into regions of Europe not yet fully discovered, then place L’AND Vineyards on the map for a luxury hotel experience to rest after exploring Alentejo and the historic City of Evora.

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