Vila Joya is a 20-room boutique hotel with a peaceful hilltop setting overlooking the gorgeous Algarve coastline. The luxury property has 12 rooms and eight suites, all of which are individually decorated in a fresh and elegant blend of traditional and contemporary styles. Standard amenities include free Wi-Fi, Bose iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs with cable channels and DVD players. All rooms have either garden-access terraces or sea-view balconies. There are two outdoor pools, a luxury spa, and tennis courts, but dining is certainly the highlight here, starting with an excellent breakfast service (included in the rate). It's lunch and dinner, however, where the Michelin-rated restaurant really shines. The chef crafts Northern European-influenced dishes from local products in ways that fuse varied regional flavors, and the restaurant has an extensive wine cellar as well. Additionally, there are two bars for drinks.
Many Portuguese beach hotels suffer from datedness issues, but not Velamar Boutique Hotel. This small boutique property (solidly mid-range, not luxury, like Vila Joya) has upgraded all of its public spaces, making them bolder, brighter, and yet still cozy. In addition to contemporary, minimalist style, the hotel has a great location in the quiet fishing village of Olhos de Agua, an easy walk to beaches, bars, restaurants, and shops. All spotless and stylish rooms come with free water, minibars, flat-screen TVs, and balconies. Bathrooms have hairdryers and bidets, but no toiletries. Still, the free breakfast, two bars, small outdoor pool, game room, and all-day snacks make it an excellent bang-for-your-buck option near Albufeira.
The upper-middle-range Vila Gale Collection Praia is a 40-room boutique right across from the golden sands of Gale Beach. This contemporary hotel has a quiet and relaxed vibe that makes it popular with couples. All rooms have fresh decor, air-conditioning, balconies, and water-stocked mini-fridges; Superior Rooms add bathrobes, slippers, and free minibars. There are more features here than Velamar, but Velamar's fresh decor earns it a higher spot on this list. Vila Gale's features include a pretty outdoor pool where guests won't have to fight for loungers; wellness area with a sauna, whirlpool, Turkish bath, and small gym; large multimedia room with a snooker table; and all-day restaurant with room service. Freebies include hotel-wide Wi-Fi and breakfast, but the tennis courts and laundry service cost extra.