The Algarve region in southern Portugal is known for its golden-sand beaches, picturesque towns, and year-round sunshine. These boutique hotels are the area’s most charming.
The 20-room Vila Joya is a luxury boutique hotel that begs for superlatives. The palatial hilltop villa overlooks a sandy Atlantic Ocean beach, creating a peaceful, refined setting west of Albufeira, with a few restaurants within walking distance. Elegant rooms and suites blend classic and modern details, and all but one feature sea views. The big bathrooms (some with soaking tubs) and large furnished terraces or balconies are impressive as well. Even though there are two outdoor pools, a premium spa, tennis courts, and on-site shops, it's the Michelin-star dining that really steals the show.
The luxurious, 180-room Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa sits on a cliff facing the ocean, surrounded by 54 acres of garden ground. Standard Deluxe Rooms have contemporary decor, locally made blue-and-white ceramics on the walls, sunken living rooms, and outdoor areas. As for Suites, they add espresso machines and entertainment consoles with Bluetooth speakers. Grand Suites and higher category units have separate bedrooms and living spaces, some with two levels. Many features are off-site or seasonal, but the resort presents a slew of dining and recreation options, along with access to a small beach with Portugal's largest reef offshore. The eight restaurants include a two-star Michelin spot, and there are six bars and an elegant wine cellar. Other bonuses are the eight swimming pools, kids' clubs, golf facilities, and rustic cave-like spa with Hypoxi Studio, holistic treatments, and two saunas. The entire resort has an estate-like elegance, though some of the artwork and decor can feel a bit old-fashioned.
The Lagos outskirts are packed with plenty of small-scale properties, but Dom Manuel manages to pack a lot of charm into a compact package. It looks no different than the neighborhood homes all around, but the flower-canopied pathway to the hotel's common areas sets a fine, relaxed mood. The villa style buildings are filled with a blend of Mediterranean design, classic Portuguese elements, and modern touches. The free buffet breakfast is a popular feature that brings together the couples who stay here, and there are two quiet pools and a spa treatment room as well. Rooms are modern, with a touch of Portuguese style, and include air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and furnished balconies. There's a simple bar as well. Keep in mind that parking is limited, and it's a 10- to 15-minute walk into the old town.
The Viscount of Estoi, a connoisseur of Baroque gardens, built this pink-and-white palace as a family home in the 18th century. The gardens, decorated with statues and fountains in the Versailles style, have been lovingly restored. The grounds feature long rows of columns cutting across manicured lawns, and soft dirt paths laid out in geometric patterns around a colorful bounty of flora. The Rococo-style palace was renovated by the architect Goncalo Byrne, who added a modern wing to house the rooms and suites. Each of the 63 rooms are large, with private balconies and none of the old plumbing that can plague similar properties, though the modern decor doesn't live up to the hotel's historic provenance. The beautiful 18th-century building has allure as a historic landmark, while also attracting guests with a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and a restaurant with its original wood-burning oven.
The Memmo Baleeira Hotel has broad appeal and is a contemporary alternative to Sagres' many surfer hostels and holiday rental apartments. Situated at the end of Sagres' main drag, the Baleeira feels tucked away and a bit rustic at first-- low pine trees dot the sandy grounds and create an almost woodsy atmosphere. The hotel's interiors, though, are sleek and minimalist; trendy without trying too hard. Shades of white, oak, gray, and soft blue feel appropriate for the hotel's marina-side location, and the blend of retro-inspired furniture, bold contemporary art, and hand-crafted details come together nicely. Indoor and outdoor pools, a buzzing restaurant and bar, a massive free breakfast buffet, and a spacious terrace with marina views all add value to a stay here. The 144 rooms are compact and simple, but are quiet at night and include flat-screen TVs and air-conditioning -- some also feature sea-view balconies.
The Costa D'oiro Ambiance Village is an 85-unit upper-middle-range property with a mix of hotel rooms and apartments that's a five- to 10-minute walk to gorgeous Praia Dona Ana. Its multiple buildings are built into a quiet residential area, and interiors range from classic to contemporary. Standard features in all rooms and apartments include free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and balconies or terraces. There are several pools, a simple fitness room, and beach towels are free. The restaurant is a real delight, and the free breakfast includes a massive spread of locally produced dishes.
Algar Seco Parque is an attractive three-and-a-half-pearl hotel offering stellar ocean views and classic Portuguese style. The scenic property, set on a hillside, is about 10 minutes by foot from the heart of the village. Artisanal landscaping and bountiful flowers lend it incredible character, while the hotel includes a nice mix of 47 total traditional suites, bungalows, and villas offering either pool or sea views. All include amenities like flat-screen TVs and spacious, Mediterranean-style bathrooms and kitchens. There are three pools (including one for kids), as well as a breezy bistro that overlooks the ocean and the pools.
The Hotel Faro is a contemporary three-and-a-half-pearl hotel in the historic and vibrant center of Faro, right off of the picturesque marina. The 90 rooms here are fresh and modern, though simple, with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and mini-fridges. The rooftop restaurant, bar, and pool overlook the charming town center along the waterfront, and guests can walk to a plethora of restaurants and attractions. Some of the amenities cost extra, but breakfast is included and there's a free shuttle to the beach.
The quiet Solar de Mos is a family-run mid-range hotel that's a pleasant place to unwind within an easy drive of beaches and central Lagos. This humble property has two distinct personalities. The 15 rooms are split between two buildings, and 10 have a classic style, while five are done in sharp, modern decor. All include air-conditioning, electric kettles, minibars, flat-screen TVs, and balconies. The hotel has a spacious pool and a quaint restaurant that serves a free breakfast, then snacks and dinner later in the day. There's even a simple fitness room with cardio equipment, plus a rooftop hot tub with sea views.
What started in 1942 as a Portuguese government program to develop its historic sites has given way to a network of pousadas -- small, simple hotels -- that fall into three categories: historic, monumental, and charming. The Pousada de Sagres, Infante lives up to its designation as the latter. Its scenic location atop the cliffs of Ponta da Atalaia makes a striking first impression, and offers stunning views of nearby Mareta Beach. Interiors -- from the restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine to the game room and cozy bar -- have a traditionally elegant style created by a mix of Art Nouveau tapestries, sleek modern furniture, sober brown and blue color schemes, and local details like azulejo tiles. There's also a small outdoor pool, a tennis court, and a surf-and-bike shop next door. Air-conditioned rooms are relatively spacious, quiet, and pleasant despite a bit of wear. However, the real treat is the sunset view from many of the rooms.