JO&SO is a curated collection of cool places to stay in Portugal and one of our favorite local resources. The Portuguese sisters who run the site are just as resourceful, so we asked them to share their favorite excursions in the countryside, upcoming hotel stays, and shops for sourcing the best souvenirs in Lisbon.
Tell us about JO&SO.
Joana: JO&SO stands for Joana and Sofia. We are two Portuguese sisters who share a passion for travel and beautiful hotels. Our foreign friends would often ask us for tips about Portugal and we realized there wasn’t one website we could point them to which reflected our recommendations — so we created it. There are a lot of great travel websites out there, but the amount of information can be overwhelming. JO&SO is like a list of recommendations that we'd pass along to a friend.
How often do you travel?
Sofia: As much as possible. We both have full-time jobs and live in different cities (Joana lives in Lisbon and I live in London). We try to do a trip together every three months and during each one we visit between one and three hotels. It's good to have a bit of a break in between as it keeps us genuinely excited when we visit new places. We think it's important to show that in our writing and photographs as it reflects the anticipation people have when they go on holiday.
What's next for JO&SO?
Joana: We feel like we have just started and there are still quite a few places that we want to visit and feature. Our watchlist is quite long.
Tell us about a special moment from one of your trips in Portugal.
Joana: Because we are sisters and friends, traveling together is always fun. We enjoyed a beautiful Douro sunset at Quinta do Vallado sipping one of their great wines (Touriga Nacional). I felt so blessed. I love horseback riding and take the chance to do it whenever possible. We had the chance at Herdade da Matinha and São Lourenço do Barrocal, where both the scenery and the horses were awesome.
Sofia: We treasure every moment. One of my highlights happened in June of last year. I'd just flown to Porto from rainy, cold, gray London. We then drove for two hours through amazing scenery to Casa do Rio in Douro. It was really warm and sunny when we arrived. I got out of the car and walked up the steps to take a look at the infinity pool and there was no one around, just the beautiful landscape and the sound of nature. I thought, “Wow, I'm so happy right now.”
What souvenirs would you recommend to travelers visiting Portugal?
Joana: We recommend a visit to A Vida Portuguesa, a shop selling really cool and classic Portuguese products in Lisbon and Porto. We love the soaps, notebooks, and deli products. A bottle of vintage Port wine (20 years +) and some ewes' cheese from Serra da Estrela make excellent souvenirs — just be sure to wrap it well or your suitcase will stink.
What's your favorite hotel in Portugal?
Sofia: We have a soft spot for all the hotels in our website, but I adore Companhia das Culturas because of the relaxed vibe, quirky vintage decor, fresh juices they serve at breakfast, and the blissful yoga room, which is made of cork and smells wonderful.
What's your favorite hotel outside of Portugal?
Joana: Bambu Indah in Bali, which is a very special place and incredibly beautiful.
Sofia: Ban Makook in Koh Kood, which is still a very unspoiled island in Thailand. The small hotel is so cute. I felt like I was in paradise.