Portugal’s south coast is one of the world’s most scenic destinations with over 100 miles of coastline, swathes of shady pine forest and spectacular cliffs whose shades range all the way from honeycomb to rusty red. Its hotels are equally impressive, whether you’re looking for world-class golf courses, ultra-sleek swimming pools, superb spas or Michelin-star dining. We’ve travelled around the Algarve to find you the most luxurious places to stay.
Vila Vita Parc has set the standard for luxury Algarve hotels since it opened its doors in 1992. There’s a distinctly Mediterranean vibe here – white-washed buildings containing local pottery and towers topped with terracotta tiles are fronted by picturesque tiers of grass dotted with loungers, just a 10-minute walk from the rock-carved Cova Redonda Beach. We recommend booking a window seat at the two Michelin-starred Ocean Restaurant, famous for gourmet cuisine including guineafowl, amberjack and swordfish. It also has a colourful and impeccably arranged tasting menu by expert chef, Hans Neuner, and an impressive wine rack which houses one of the largest private collections on the Iberian Peninsula.
This classy resort is one of the Algarve’s best options for families, with a mix of contemporary-chic hotel rooms and self-catered houses. It’s on rolling cliffs overlooking Martinhal Beach and surrounded by Costa Vicentina Natural Park, near historic Sagres and Europe’s most south-western point, Cape St Vincent. Michael Sodeau has created a muted and organic interior design with slate, stone and local pinewood. The Finisterra Spa has just six treatment rooms and offers family therapies including parent and child massages and manicures. Feel the sea breeze from the heated outdoor pool before heading inside to O Terraço Lounge, decked out with sparkling chandeliers, where you can watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Pine Cliffs is perched on the unmistakeable orange peaks of Falésia Beach, just a quick lift ride or charming footpath stroll down to the beach. Fancy facilities reflect the property’s Luxury Collection status, from ‘Europe’s Best Wellness Spa’ which offers therapies incorporating locally sourced fleur de sel and Falésia sand, to five floodlit tennis courts; but it’s in golf and dining where the hotel really excels. Tee off at the nine-hole course which meanders across 168 pristine acres, before reenergising at spots including a steakhouse, one of the first Japanese restaurants in the Algarve or a poolside grill. Our personal favourite is the Mirador Champagne Bar, a breathtaking clifftop retreat among the pine trees with spectacular views over the coast below.
From the cream stone pillars and marble floor interior to the pair of superb back-to-back pools framed by timber decking, everything about Anantara’s debut European hotel is stylish and sophisticated. The resort lies on the fringes of vogue Vilamoura, a leisurely drive from the beach and marina, and you can expect glorious views over the surrounding Arnold Palmer-designed Victoria Golf Course which hosts the Portugal Masters every year. The food here is excellent – we particularly love the highly coveted Emo Restaurant which serves quality Algarvian dishes such as roasted lamb with potato gnocchi and braised John Dory with chestnut purée. Plus, its remarkable collection of over 350 international wines earned it the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence 2018.
You’ll find this spacious family-friendly resort only 10 minutes’ walk from the heart of Vilamoura, in five acres of landscaped gardens next to the 18-hole Pinhal Golf Course. Huge pools sit between a series of boulders, bridges and cascading waterfalls – hence the ‘As Cascatas’ in the hotel’s name – and this recurring aquatic theme is most obvious at the 7 Seven Spa, which steals the show. Portugal’s largest spa has a cool water plunge pool and bubbling thermal pool, and is well lit thanks to wide windows and glass panels. Splash out on one of the Suite L’Amour treatments, for your own private suite complete with welcome drink, two relaxing massages and two flutes of Champagne with chocolates.
This five-star favourite is tucked between a long stretch of golden sand and the upmarket Vilamoura Marina, a 15-minute stroll round the corner. The hotel is livelier than others in the Algarve, but it doesn’t compromise on luxury – large panes of glass let in the glints and gleams of the ocean down below, and there’s a huge circular pool as well as a free shuttle to nearby golf courses. Pepper’s Steakhouse and the Side Bar both overlook the marina but the VIP vibe is most palpable at the trendy Purobeach beach club, which you’ll have free access to – head poolside for a sleek black-mosaic pool, DJs and Champagne, or beachfront for plush white day beds and signature cuisine from Marrakesh and Miami.
This is one of only four Conrad properties in Europe and it’s located by the exclusive golf resort of Quinta do Lago, just a stone’s throw from the upscale shops and restaurants. The hotel resembles an 18th-Century Portuguese palace, with a Moorish wrought-iron gate at the foot of a grand entrance flanked by fountains and rows of lofty palm trees. As well as the heated infinity pool with cutting-edge underwater music system, wellness and food are the hotel’s highlights. The award-winning spa has an indoor-outdoor pool and ice fountain, and offers bespoke oxygen infusion treatments; Gusto serves main courses including duck tortellini with pumpkin cream and black truffle before passion fruit ganache for dessert, under the guidance of three-Michelin-starred chef, Heinz Beck.