Rio do Prado hotel - Lagoa de Óbidos, Portugal
The brainchild of local mayor Telmo Faria and his wife Marta Garcia, this mini eco resort is situated on the edge of a stunning lagoon and wetland reserve popular with birdwatchers and fishing enthusiasts. When approaching the hotel, the 15 turf-roofed concrete suites, designed by Portuguese architect Jorge Sousa Santos, are virtually hidden from view. The cleverly sunken complex also offers visitors the chance to get their hands dirty in the organic garden and boasts an Eco Lab, large ’social greenhouse’, sustainable spa, swimming pool and gourmet Maria Batata restaurant. Guests in the ’carbon footprint’ suites can see how they measure up on departure. Summer evenings are spent around wood-burning fires, where local foodstuffs are sampled. Leisure activities are encouraged by Telmo who recommends making home-baked pizzas, riding bikes around the lake or signing up for workshops promoting eco-design awareness. Alternatively you could hit the spa for treatments, Turkish baths or a soak in Epsom salts in the candle-lit floatation room.