In an unsung region of Portugal, set among ancient olive trees below medieval Monsaraz, is a serene cluster of whitewashed farm and mill buildings; Monte Saraz is utterly beautiful. Step inside. Dutch Marc, with a background in sustainable development, has put his rustic-minimalist stamp on 18th-century vaulted brick ceilings, flagstone floors and wooden doors, and made the place his own. Rooms glow with Indian kilim rugs, fine country furniture, beautiful examples of arts and crafts and washes of warm colour. All is cool and calm. There’s a communal sitting room filled with flowers, three charming suites in Alentejan style, stylish all-white bathrooms, and four delightful self-catering ‘cottages’, all with outdoor spaces. Outside are lovely orchards, gardens and peaceful shady corners, and two pools, one framed by the arches of the original olive press – exquisite. Marc and Luz Maria, easy-going, open-hearted and friendly, serve you delicious breakfasts Portuguese style, and the views of Monsaraz, perched on its hilltop, are stunning – particularly poignant when floodlit at night. Great value.