By Evie Carrick
May 21, 2019
Credit: Courtesy of Eve Carrick

If you’ve ever visited a popular tourist site only to get caught in a giant tour group or find your view obstructed by a swarm of selfie-sticks, you’ve experienced the negative effects of tourism. It’s why tour groups are banned from parts of the Statue of Liberty and why Amsterdam is reevaluating their approach to tourism after seeing overcrowding.

Credit: Courtesy of David Gol

Perhaps this is what makes a stay at Slowlife Glamping’s off-the-grid hobbit pod on the rugged coast of Portugal so appealing. It’s not luxurious in the traditional sense — the pod is small, accommodating one to three people, and the all-wood interior is simple and clean. The electricity comes from the sun, the water comes from an on-property well, and the shared outhouse toilet and hot-water shower provide a true taste of upscale camping.

The luxury is found in the experience.

The hobbit pod is nestled among pine trees, the night sky is full of stars, and it’s so quiet chances are you’ll sleep better than you have in years. During the day, you can hike along the coast without seeing a soul, post up on a private beach, or pass the day reading in the hammock doing not much of anything. In the closest town — a 30-minute walk away — you’ll find a wood-fired bakery and a mini grocery store stocked with local sheep’s milk cheese.

It’s as if the moment you step on the property, life slows down — and that's a wonderful feeling.

Credit: Courtesy of Eve Carrick

“I think tourism has changed in the last few years. There’s a new tendency to experience nature and take a break from life,” said David Gol, owner of Slowlife Glamping. “You can see how people are after two or three days here — we get some emotional letters and feedback.”

Gol knows the effect of the place, because he’s felt it himself. Before moving to the property full time with his family and starting Slowlife Glamping, Gol lived and worked in Lisbon, coming to the property only on the weekends. “I was counting the days for my weekend to come here. [Moving here] was an amazing change.”

Today, the property offers six accommodations — two hobbit pods; two renovated, hand-painted campers; and two small cottages — all of which operate off-the-grid. Each space is bookable on Glamping Hub, an online booking platform for unique outdoor accommodations, and include a modest kitchen, dishes, cooking utensils, and linens. Everything, from the complimentary shampoo and toothpaste to the compost-fed garden, is eco-friendly. An organic breakfast made with food from the garden is available for an additional fee.

Credit: Courtesy of Eve Carrick

Slowlife Glamping is located on 8.5 acres of wooded space on the Península de Setúbal. From the property it’s a short walk to the Atlantic Coast and Arrábida National Park. Hiking and biking trails meander across the peninsula leading to secluded beaches and coastal overlooks. Nearby, travelers can explore the peninsula's point, Cabo Espichel, visit Palmela’s wine country, or explore the resort town of Sesimbra.

Credit: Courtesy of Eve Carrick

At Slowlife Glamping, hiking sticks are more common than selfie sticks, and I promise you, no tour bus would dare to venture down the unpaved roads it takes to get to the property. Here, travelers find stillness and space.