The resort referred to as Comporta is actually a collection of villages dotted along a 12km stretch of the Portuguese Atlantic coast. If you make the trip to Lisbon, it’s just over an hour’s drive to this incredible landscape, filled with pine and cork forests, sweeping sand dunes and rice fields. With strict building regulations in place, Comporta has managed to maintain its peaceful, windswept air. Look a little deeper in the forests though and you’ll find the hideaways of A-list celebrities alongside luxury iterations of the local fisherman’s huts and world-class hotels.
We sat down with design dealer Francesco Paolini who has been visiting the region for many years and describes his initial visit as “love at first sight”. As a co-founder of Tablinum, a London-based art and design dealership with a focus on ancient Roman and Brazilian midcentury pieces, we knew we could rely on Francesco not just for local recommendations, but the most stylish ones. “Everything feels so unassuming, yet charming and still very authentic,” he tells us. “Especially thanks to the genuine kindness of the Portuguese people.”
One of the best ways to feel at home in a new location is to relax over local food and wine and take in the ambience. Luckily, Francesco assures us the food in Comporta is “incredible”. His favourite spots for a long dinner include Restaurante Sal (grab the sea bass, some local rosé and a spot on the terrace), Cavalariça, offering a tranquil atmosphere and simple local ingredients presented very artistically. In the morning, he suggests grabbing a coffee and breakfast at O Dinis on the seafront.
If you’re not quite ready to invest in a beach house yet (why not?), stay at the Hotel Sublime, a collection of wooden huts set in an extensive estate, with luxury standard service and simple but pristine design. The Hotel’s restaurant, Sem Porta, is also excellent and showcases the organic produce of the property. Another option is Campo de Arroz, a private house and adjoining cabin perfect for a larger group or family. Try your hand at making some of the local delicacies in the outdoor kitchen: the local grocery store alone is worth a visit and a whole roll of film thanks to beautifully packaged products. If that’s not your style, have the Campo organise a local chef to come and cook for you as you relax in the infinity pool and take in the dramatic landscape that surrounds you.
As in architecture, there are significant overlaps in the art and design of Brazil and Portugal. For Francesco it’s a “dialogue that has always been very present”, particularly thanks to the many Brazilian designers of Portuguese descent. However, they each have their own distinct styles and specialities, and the local culture and skills of Comporta are uniquely beautiful, and covetable. Take yourself to Loja do Museu do Arroz for typical homeware pieces that will elicit many questions and compliments at your next dinner party, or Côté Sud to pick up beautifully crafted beachwear pieces that make up the perfect summer wardrobe. Don’t leave without a traditional rug from Alentejo (the name of the region Comporta is in), you can grab one at RICE by Marta Mantero.
Enough about what you should leave with, what should you bring in the first place? Firstly, a set of wheels. You’ll want to explore the sprawling coast and a car is the easiest way to get around the various medieval villages and tucked-away restaurants of the area. Then take a leaf from Francesco’s book when it comes to packing your suitcase: “Copacabana swim shorts by Frescobol Carioca, some espadrilles, and finally, a good read about Portugal.” He recommends José Saramago’s Skylight and Antonio Tabucchi’s Pereira Maintains.
When you’re not eating, reading, or cruising the coastline, you can take a former polo pony for a gallop through the sand with Cavalos na Areia, take on the most difficult golf course in Troia, or visit Herdade da Comporta for a tasting of local wines. This sprawling agricultural estate dotted with perfectly preserved traditional architecture and features rolling green fields that melt into wild forest form which you emerge onto a deserted golden beach.
Are you ready to buy that beach house yet?