The middle 4 nights of our Portuguese adventure were spent at Honey House Stables in Melo, central Portugal. It is a vegan retreat in the foothills of the Estrela Natural Park. We were all made to feel more than welcome by Annie and Adam who are brilliant hosts. Our wild child was definitely able to run free during our stay here and we managed to squeeze in a wander too!

Accommodation

There are a few options for accommodation at Honey House Stables including bell tents and a converted horsebox. We would describe the setting as ‘glamping’ in as much as you are provided with somewhere private to sleep and there are shared toilets, showers, cooking and eating facilities. Perfect for a camping experience when you are travelling.

We stayed in a lovely caravan on a sheltered terrace with an amazing view.

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There was a communal kitchen, eating and living area in the barn which was a very short walk from our caravan. Here there was a cooker, storage cupboards/drawers for food (no fridge or freezer), tables and chairs, sofas, wifi and sockets for charging phones etc. As the electricity was solar, charging of electricals had to be done during the day – not a problem! We really enjoyed the ‘family’ feel of the communal area and spending time with other guests. Finding an older child to take your toddler for a walk is always a win! For quiet time we could retreat back to our caravan terrace.

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Have you ever used a compost toilet? We hadn’t and were pleasantly surprised at the reality which wasn’t smelly or yucky – but with a toddler we’re used to seeing alot of wee and poo! The shower was from a hosepipe with hot water from a boiler and whilst basic it did the job and we were clean. There was a washing machine and lots of lovely sunshine to dry clothes.

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We think that the back-to-basics facilities all add to the getting away from it all feeling. Being away from things we take for granted, like a flushing toilet, wasn’t a chore and made us feel a million miles away from reality, in a good way.

Overall we loved our accommodation, once we’d spent a day winding down and relaxing into it.

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Food

As described above, there is a kitchen area where you can cook your own food. Water is provided either from a spring or bottled, whichever you prefer. Annie and Adam also provide meals, at a very reasonable cost. As Honey House Stables is a vegetarian/vegan retreat it is asked that guests do not bring any meat products onto the site (also no alcohol). We decided to sort out our own breakfast and lunch but asked Adam to cook for us in the evenings. It was exciting to see what vegan feast he had prepared each evening and included; vegan shepherds pie, chick pea burgers, lovely salads, bean casserole and great cakes. Adam even made a vegan lemon drizzle cake especially for my birthday – it was a fantastic surprise and just one example of the amazing hosting that we received.

Unfortunately we were so busy eating – we don’t have any pictures of food!

Everything else

The setting at Honey House Stables is absolutely perfect for free range children. There is a stream that takes water play to the next level.

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Annie offers both yoga and reiki classes which you are able to build into your stay. Both Daddy and I enjoyed a beginners yoga session on a shady terrace with far-reaching views across the valley; no toddlers involved! There are also horse riding options with the emphasis on connecting with the horses in a gentle way. I was able to explore the local area on horseback and also took part in some preparation work for a Positive Reinforcement and Clicker Training workshop taught by Alize from Fairhorsemanship, after our stay.

Animals everywhere! Three horses can be seen wandering around their field on the edge of the site and Molly the miniture shetland (?) is allowed everywhere – except the veggie garden. Molly is really friendly and our toddler almost gave her a brush but decided she preferred ponies that didn’t move so much…

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There are also six dogs, a number of cats and lots of chickens around the site. They have all been rescued by Annie and were more than happy with a toddler wandering around. Our adventurer especially loved the chickens and their chicks.

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The thing that made this stay really special was the hospitality that we received from Annie and Adam. They made us feel welcome from the moment they picked us up from the train station and took a detour on the way home so we could buy some toddler shoes (as we’d lost one in Porto). As we were travelling pretty light we hadn’t got food or transport to get to a supermarket but we needn’t have worried as Adam asked if we wanted anything picking up when he went to the supermarket. Annie informed us we could help ourselves to fresh figs straight from the trees, grapes from the vines and blackberries from the hedges. Our toddler loves nothing more than a good forage so this made her day.

We would whole heartedly recommend Honey House Stables to families with children who love to roam; the space, the atmosphere and the kindness make this a beautiful place.

The Beckingham family