Meet Melides

  • Issue no. 1

Nestled on the Alentejo coast, just south of Lisbon and Comporta, a sleepy village dozes in the Mediterranean sun. Whitewashed and freckled with blue painted houses, Melides (pronounced Melidesh) is an oasis of tranquility. However, there is definitely an air of anticipation and excitement drifting down the cobbled streets of this Portugese outlier, which is why we’ve outlined it as the one-to-watch for travel in 2022.

Why have I not heard of Melides before?

The village has been in existence for more than 500 years and for much of that time it has been a sleepy hamlet. It was a small port prior to the earthquake and tsunami of 1755, which devastated the capital and most of the coast around it. After the land had finished shifting and rearranging itself, the river mouth at Melides all but closed and the harbour was no more. Locals adjusted their lives, began planting cork trees, harvesting olives, catching fish and growing what vegetables they could in the dry sandy soil. Time rolled on and the 20th century went by almost unremarked, with life barely altered by its passing.

Why is it up-and-coming?

Amongst those putting Melides on the map is Christian Louboutin, who is finishing construction on a 15 bedroom hotel in the epicentre of the region. The new Umay hotel coming in 2022 similarly features jaw-dropping renders and epitomises the rapidity with which Melides is set to shake the travel and hospitality industry.

Where To Stay

Melides is an architectural smorgasboard. If you’re looking for authentic whitewashed villas swaddled in bougainvillea, or a modern cathedral of glass and minimalism, the answer is sim, sim, claro!

If you’re looking to be close to nature…visit Nômade — Auberge Rurale

For those looking for a sand-beneath-your-toes escape, Nômade — Auberge Rurale begins ‘every day like a Sunday’. Adjacent to the largest virgin sandy beach of Europe, this charming eco-lodge is the perfect hideaway for those who value serenity, sustainability, and unrefined nature.

If you’re looking for independence…explore the Air BNBs

For those seeking their own private oasis, Melides offers an eclectic selection of quirky Air BNBs, from chic micro-cabins to sprawling contemporary villas.

If you’re looking for R&R…visit Quinta da Comporta

Just outside of Melides is the Quinta da Comporta wellness boutique resort, an oasis of tranquility offering a range of treatments and massages. An architectural delicacy, it is no surprise that Quinta da Comporta has been featured in Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Portugal 2020.

Where To Eat

Melides’ local restaurantes remain brazenly Portugese, creating harmonious marriages between seafood and potatoes officiated by the golden Moscatel de Setúbal wine of the region. Whether you’re looking for simplicity (we recommend the polvo à lagareiro) or glutinous decadence (pataniscas de bacalhau — thank us later), the cuisine in Melides is delightfully accommodating.

If you’re looking for authenticity…visit Flor de Sal

Moments from the beach, this charming eatery is the haut monde of the area. Complete with local cuisine and local tipple, this is quintessential Melides dining.

If you’re looking for hands-on …try TwoPack cookery classes

A literal farm-to-fork experience, where guests visit the local Sobreiras Altas farm and select ingredients to cook with, under the guidance of Michelin star chef António. Excellent for people wanting to connect through food.

If you’re looking for romance …try  picnic delivery services

Enjoy light, fresh meals poolside or beachside with these gourmet picnic deliveries. Prepare for every other picnic to feel sub-par as you enjoy tenderloin, local charcuterie platters, and fish rowe al fresco.

What To Do

If you’re looking for creativity …visit  Melides Art

A boutique atelier and artist retreat, Melides Art is a highlight destination. Set amidst a contemporary art park, the symbiosis between art and space cultivates the quirky setting as an eden of creativity, with the property itself adapting from studio to workshop to exhibition dependent on need. To be inspired and find out what’s happening, explore their website.

If you’re looking for adventure …try horse riding

Whether you’re looking to explore the hills of Serra de Grândola or Melides’ sprawling coast, Passeios a Cavalo offers horseback rides to showcase the landscape in a bare-back, bare-bones way.

If you’re looking to shop ’til you drop …explore the Melides fair

Taking place in November each year, the Melides fair offers handcrafted goods from the Alentejo and the Algarve regions, with performances and folk dancing underpinning the festivities.

Don’t just take our word for it…here’s what others are saying

‘I always count the days to get here. To be in silence — it’s what I need. Staying here rejuvenates me completely. I’m surrounded by incredible nature and the air is so fresh, the oxygen from the ocean so tonifying.’ — Van Duysen

‘Melides has a lovely humbleness to it. Everything happens at its own pace and people still operate the way they would have done a hundred years ago. It is very pure, especially in comparison to the rest of western Europe. It’s just an hour and a quarter from Lisbon, but city life is completely stripped away.’ — James Thurstan Waterworth

Final thoughts

The New York times described Melides as ‘what St. Tropez used to be in the 1950s, before Brigitte Bardot, or Ibiza, before the first wave of summer partyers ever heard of the Mediterranean hot spot’. They’re not wrong; Melides feels like a secret, teetering over the precipice of discovery. The landscape is sprouting boutique hotels and chic getaways, and with luxury investment cultivating the village, Melides is ripe for the picking. Get there, or be square.

Tilly Redshaw
Marketing and Sales, Wonderhatch

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