Portugal is one of the most fascinating and cost-effective holiday destinations in Europe. The country’s history and culture, as well as its gastronomy and wines, are all major draws, as are the golden beaches, world-class surfing, well-known music festivals, and, above all, the Portuguese people, who are known for being amiable, open, and sincere. Over the last ten years, the country has seen an influx of super-chic hotel developments, ranging from peaceful country getaways to extravagant beach resorts. To assist you in planning your next vacation, I’ve put together a list of the Best Hotels to Stay In Portugal.
1: Torel 1884, Porto
A moustachioed guy occasionally steps out of a workshop rimmed in blue tiles on the opposite side of the street from Torel 1884 and sets a freshly varnished cork board on the pavement, quietly standing guard while it cures in the sun. Porto is one of Europe’s few cities that genuinely creates things, and it does it slowly. Cranes, on the other hand, are circling the horizon. Its historic centre was nearly a ghost town at the turn of the millennium; now days, its facades are being recovered. This hotel, a former palace and bank that now preserves wine in its vault, is a good example. Torel’s owners opened their first shop in the city a few years ago, high above the Douro River and decorated with Pop Art flourishes and a silk flower ceiling. Also, read Best Tacos near me.
The second instalment is more neoclassical, with a high atrium that opens up the interior like a doll’s house. The gawping, carved heads lining the entrance were inspired by the spirit of the Age of Discovery, a period of seafaring, map-pushing adventurers. A library with coolie hats, volumes on Java and Rimbaud, and the kind of wooden floor you want to skid through in your socks may be found at the top. Bedrooms in the middle feature jade green, rattan, and velvet, evoking Africa, Asia, and the Americas; tiny strips of banana leaf line the bathroom walls of one mezzanine space, a portrait of a woman smoking actual paintbrushes in another – one of many textured, mixed-media works by local artist Jorge Cuval. A bar and cafe with ceiling fans and small porcelain dishes for almost everything is located at the bottom. This feels like a private residence, complete with hushed drawing rooms and expansive views. It’s only a short distance to the water.
2: 3HB, Faro
This is a first for Faro — finally, a posh hotel in the Algarve’s city. The horizon-edge pool and rooftop patio overlook the city’s lovely terracotta-tiled rooftops and white-washed structures to the Ria Formosa lagoon beyond. Visit the top-floor Hábito restaurant as the sun sets over the skyline, or linger around the fire pit at the top-floor private bar looking at the stars. If you get tired of the sun, there’s a cool subterranean spa area, or for additional decadence, request a spa soak on the balcony of your teal-and-copper suite. Also read romantic hotels near me.
3: Quinta Da Corte, Douro Valley
When Philippe Austruy, a French winemaker, first came across this estate’s dusty, semi-paved track in 2012, he fell in love right away. Only pickaxes and horse-drawn ploughs could control the sun-bleached vineyards, and the white, ochre-yellow-framed stucco quinta towering in solitary magnificence on the brink of a UNESCO-protected mountainside had been left to decay following a drawn-out inheritance fight. Austruy engaged the help of stylish Paris-based architect Pierre Yovanovitch to remodel the low-slung 19th-century home into an attractive rural hideaway while keeping the original structure intact. With custom-made, slim-limbed colourful sofas, alabaster light fittings, and brushed-metal lamps jumbling up with old rotary phones, musty editions of Proust and Brecht, and lovely pottery hanging from turmeric-orange walls, the result feels deeply rooted and true. The eight bedrooms are a study in still life: wicker chairs, light bouncing off textured plaster from slatted shutters, recessed recesses filled with jugs of wild flowers. Also read Breakfast Near Me.
The inky-blue slither of pool on the balcony floats above the sweep of mottled-green vineyards. The new winery, a stark-white cube protruding out of a bluff below the main house, has a functional Scandi punch. Gather for porto tónicos before family-style suppers of lemony grilled octopus and traditional cozido pork stew after winding around the river in flat-bottomed wooden boats or exploring adjacent port houses. This is the kind of place where a smart crowd goes for a lo-fi recharge; a slow-paced long weekend after an urban hopping. It’s only a two-hour drive from Porto.
4: Quinta da Comporta
Up until recently, there was just one hotel worth considering in this region of sleepy fishing villages and surf shacks, and that was Sublime. This location, designed by Portuguese architect-designer Miguel Câncio Martins, is now a competitor. Paths wind across the sand, passing white, barn-like structures many of which were once grain storage – that overlook the patchwork paddy fields and slender swimming pool.
Their furnishings are designed to blend in with the surroundings and are purposely neutral, with salvaged beams from Canada dominating the area and low-hanging, rope-tied Balinese lampshades filling the double-height spaces. With rattan carpets, more of those lampshades, and plenty of wood and wicker, the bedrooms have a beach-house vibe. The rooftop bedroom offers two terraces, one catching the morning sun and the other overlooking the fields with burnt-orange sunsets. The rustic Alentejo region of Portugal may seem an unlikely location for a full-fledged spa, but one here has big aspirations to exploit rice in the same manner that the French-based Caudalie has done with grapes.
The substance is utilised in treatments like the lavender foot bath, and the hotel is developing its own products with rice-bran oil, which is beneficial to the skin and hair. There are lots of grains on the restaurant’s menu, including its own-brand Black Pig gin (try it in a cocktail with passionfruit and honeycomb) and squid ink, saffron, and beetroot-flavored puffed crackers. And the kitchen’s harvest will soon be supplemented by an organic garden.
5: Da Licenca, Alentejo
A hotel is depicted in this arthouse film. The storey follows a fashion insider from Portugal who meets a Parisian actor turned gallerist and the two of them escape to the countryside before they turn 50, transforming a run-down farm into a huge estate of sail-white cottages. Jules and Jim encounter Jean de Florette. Before breaking ground on the project, owners Vitor Borges and Franck Laigneau spent weeks here, sleeping in an unheated shack and monitoring how the light fell. The building has hints of Ibiza and Santorini, and the red dirt has hints of Africa. Boardwalks zigzag around the perimeter, with portholes drilled into the walls framing farmland discs and wisps of cirrus.
The pool is a real reflective circle encircled by stone, similar to a James Turrell installation. Laigneau’s unique collection of Jugendstil and Rudolf Steiner designs creates echoes of Forties Mitteleuropa in the rooms. Lions made of rope twists, earthenware projecting like octopus tentacles, and Arts and Crafts dressers with tortoiseshell edges are among the items on display. Borges built the small marble tables to show how adaptable the stone can be, so he hired a local craftsman to chisel it into a bath, which took two months to complete. Outside, birds flit among the olive trees, and glockenspiel sheep bells ring.
The passage of time glimmers. One woman arrived without a car but with armfuls of books to read and stayed for three nights before returning for another three. The solitude, on the other hand, is deceiving. The city of Estremoz, whose winery produces bottles that end up on the table here, is just down the road. Evoramonte, a hilltop town with dizzying vistas and Roman remains, is not far away.
6: L’AND Vineyards Resort, Alentejo
A remarkable new hotel has opened amid a sequence of low-slung, white, modernist buildings situated among vineyards in an area where black pigs still wander free under oak trees and storks perch on historic bell towers. Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan’s warm, earth-toned interiors are dominated by wood and slate, with bespoke pieces such as a unique bench by George Nakashima. With wooden slatted walls, raw textiles, and enormous slate bathrooms, the 22 stunningly expansive L’AND View and Sky View suites emphasise the nature. With iPads and iPod docks, the technology is up to current; in the Sky View Suites, ceilings roll back electronically to expose the starry night sky. Chef Miguel Laffan combines superb local delicacies like sheep’s cheese and porco preto horse mackerel to create complex knock-outs like prawns encrusted with batter threads in the restaurant. There is a relaxing Vinothérapie Spa by Caudale, as well as tastings of the vineyards’ own, highly tasty red Reserva.
7: Areias do Seixo, Costa de Prata
Marta Fonseca and Gonçalo Alves, tired of not being able to find a hotel they liked, decided to build one 30 minutes north of Lisbon. They wanted it to be eco-friendly and intimate enough to feel like a home. In 14 bedrooms that use geothermal energy and solar power, they have incorporated driftwood from the beaches into their designs and constructed around trees when appropriate. Each one is uniquely adorned, with some evoking Marta’s maternal Cape Verde home and others the African savannah.
There are polished cement floors, pebble walls, soft comforters, and open fireplaces or wood-burning stoves in every room. The far blue ocean may be seen from your private wooden terrace. The pleasant mood provided by the proprietors pervades the entire property. It’s reflected in the bare-board-chic restaurant’s home-cooked meals, the campfire evenings where guests may congregate while Marta plays the guitar, and the honesty bars. A garden, a greenhouse where lemongrass is produced for home-brewed tea, a pool, and a spa are all available. You can walk across the cliffs and down to the beach via a private route. Magical.
8: Noah Surf House, Casa de Prata
A secluded community with a beach blasted by Atlantic waves doesn’t exactly scream family vacation. However, Santa Cruz, a small town north of Lisbon, has quickly gained a reputation among well-informed parents. This is thanks in large part to the stylish eco-hotel developed by the same couple that created the stunning Areias do Seixo just a few kilometres away. Noah has a similar artistic flare, although his look is more industrial. The rooms are in the main house or boxy wood-clad huts with grass-tufted roofs, and the bunks hanging by cables with rope ladders are a hit with the kids.
If the seas off Santa Cruz’s 11 beaches are too rough, drive north to Peniche or south to Ericeira, both of which have some of Portugal’s best beaches. In terms of style, bare bricks and sturdy furniture are contrasted by fishing nets, octopus traps, and even an upturned boat – this artistic flotsam and jetsam shows a desire to recycle. The concept of sustainability extends beyond the aesthetics: instead of air conditioning, thick walls keep rooms cool; rainwater is collected and food is composted; solar power provides 70% of the energy for hot water; and everyone is given reusable metal water bottles. This is a place where kids can learn about environmental stewardship as well as surfing.