Stephanie Holmes finds her dream accommodation at The Literary Man — Obidos Hotel in Portugal.
I'd been on a guided group cycling tour with Exodus Travels, making my way down the Atlantic coast from Porto to Lisbon. We'd just finished our final day of cycling, clocking in at more than 300km pedalled over five days and were all elated, yet very, very smelly.
First impression: I instantly fell in love. Obidos is a medieval village, with much of it inside the walls of a 12th century castle. The hotel is just outside the walls, on ancient cobbled streets and narrow lanes. The exterior is a mix of whitewash and mustard-painted walls, wrought iron lanterns and louvre windows. Inside, the hotel — a former convent — is a maze of corridors and hallways and everywhere you look are rows and rows of bookcases filled with books. Soft lighting and low ceilings complete the olde-worlde feel.
We were a group of 10, with two guides and we crowded the small reception area. The man on reception had pre-assigned our rooms (the beauty of travelling on an organised tour), so he had our keys ready and waiting. He pointed us in the direction of our rooms, which involved hefting our suitcases up flights of stairs. The place is a rabbit warren, with no elevators.
Room : Hidden through a bookcase, my double room was tiny — I could barely fit my suitcase inside. But it was absolutely charming, with shuttered windows looking out to a small courtyard and terracotta-tiled roofs, bookshelves behind the bed, and a large, pine-panelled bathroom. It was cute and cosy. Others in my group said their rooms were huge, so I guess it's just luck of the draw.
Price : Accommodation is included as part of the Exodus Travel tour cost.
What's so good about this place? Every nook and cranny is covered with books. For a writer, it's an absolute dream.
And the bad? I clocked at least 56 copies of The Da Vinci Code before I stopped counting.
What's in the neighbourhood? Step through the castle walls and enter a world of rambling lanes, markets, gift shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, cathedrals and Obidos castle itself. The village is only 90 minutes from Lisbon and deserving of a day trip.
Food and drink
: The restaurant, Book and Cook, serves daily dinner in a romantic dining room. You can also enjoy drinks here — I had an excellent pre-dinner negroni. There's also a downstairs gin bar and a wine cellar with bottles available to purchase.
Free Wi-Fi? Yes, although it was patchy in some of the most remote nooks.
Room service : You can opt to have breakfast served to your room at no extra cost.
Exercise facilities: Heaving your suitcase up all of those stairs.
Contact : theliteraryman.pt/en
Perfect for : Book lovers, gin lovers, wine lovers, lovers.
The bottom line: If they'd have me, I'd move in and write my first novel.