Simple boutiques and sprawling golf resorts are among our picks for the top places to stay within easy driving distance of Faro Airport.
This pink-and-white Rococo-style palace was built as a family home for the Viscount of Estoi in the 18th century. The hotel's historic pedigree is in full bloom in the impressive Baroque gardens (a tourist attraction in their own right) and in the original building, where antique paintings, rich wood panels, and exquisitely detailed plasterwork cover nearly every surface. The 63 large rooms and suites, however, are entirely modern, with wood floors and minimalist decor. They don't exactly ooze character, but even standard rooms have private furnished patios or balconies and sitting areas. All units have flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, free Wi-Fi, and in-room safes (which are free to use -- not always the case in Portugal). Rooms lack coffeemakers, but have electric tea kettles. Expect a 20-minute drive to Faro Airport.
Hotel Faro is a contemporary mid-range hotel in historic Faro, right off of the picturesque marina, about a 15-minute drive from Faro Airport. The 90 rooms here are simple, but fresh and modern, with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and mini-fridges. The rooftop restaurant, bar, and pool overlook the vibrant town center along the waterfront. Some of the amenities cost extra, but breakfast is included (breakfast is only included in some rates at Pousada Palacio de Estoi) and there's a free shuttle to the beach. Prices are similar at nearby Hotel Eva, but the rooms here are a bit nicer and have more interesting views of the city center and the Ria Formosa.
The three-pearl Hotel Eva overlooks the marina on Faro's waterfront and the barrier islands in the Ria Formosa lagoon beyond it. The 134 rooms are squarely mid-range, with pleasantly modern decor and features like air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and many that include private balconies. It remains one of the most popular picks in town in this category, with a seasonal rooftop pool and a public health club that includes a full spa and a huge fitness center. Its restaurant and bar have great views and breakfast with a wide variety of buffet options is included in most room rates. Faro's train station is a six-minute walk from the hotel, and the airport is under 15 minutes away by car. Hotel Faro, above, has similar rates and rooms with a bit more style.
The adult-only Magnolia Golf and Wellness Hotel is more upscale than our first three picks, but it's in an isolated area a bit farther from the airport; commutes take about minutes by car. This elegant and minimalist hotel manages to be at once quirky and atmospheric, with carefully mismatched furniture and art pieces. All of the 77 rooms are attractive, well-outfitted, and feature furnished outdoor space; stand-alone chalets with kitchens offer the most privacy. Features here include a clay tennis court, attractive pool terrace, spa, gym, and an all-day beer-themed restaurant.
Set in an attractive traditional Portuguese villa about a 25-minute drive from the airport, Vilar do Golf is a bright and modern option near the 18-hole Quinta do Lago Sul golf course. The hotel has 61 attractive, contemporary apartments with large sitting rooms, well-equipped kitchens, dining areas, and spacious outdoor terraces. The all-day restaurant, Bobby Jones, is well-reviewed and has outdoor seating by the golf course. Vilar do Golf also has a two pools (one with a pool bar), a gym, a spa, and hair and nail salon.
Within the grounds of the Quinta do Lago Country Club, this traditional hotel is an impressive sight upon arrival, a large building with red clay tile roof sitting above the Ria Formosa lagoon. The 141 rooms are elegant and sizable, with king-sized beds, robes, and marble bathrooms, but decor -- like a lot of the property -- is on the tired side (Both Magnolia and Vilar do Golf are fresher). Excellent features include indoor and outdoor pools, buffet and a la carte restaurants, an expansive spa, and kids' club. The sandy Praia Quinta do Lago is about a 10-minute walk away.
While Magnolia, Vilar do Golf, and Quinta do Lago are all upscale resorts, the 80-unit Real Marina Residence is a mid-range apartment-style hotel. Across from the marina in Olhao, the hotel is within walking distance of plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops, plus the ferries to the beaches. Faro Airport is about 20 minutes away by car, and Faro's old town is a little closer. Apartments come with one, two, or three bedrooms, and all are modern and spacious with fully equipped kitchens and furnished balconies. There's not much in the way of features here, and it will cost extra to go next door to use the sister hotel's spa or pool. However, each set of eight apartments here has its own small rooftop pool for cooling off and taking in views of the lagoon.
Hotel Sol Algarve is a value property located in central Faro, a five-minute walk from the main train station and a 10- to 15-minute drive from the airport. The hotel is light on amenities -- no pool, gym, or full restaurant -- but guests appreciate the free breakfast, which can be eaten on a pretty courtyard terrace with a fountain and plenty of greenery. A small coffee shop also serves drinks and light snacks. The 37 rooms are basic but comfortable, and can sleep up to four people depending on how they are configured. They come with hairdryers, TVs, safes, and air-conditioning, plus free Wi-Fi. Guests looking to stay at a hotel with a pool might Real Marina Residence, where every eight apartments share a rooftop pool with lagoon views.