Where to stay in Portugal
What's so special
Portugese hotels don’t come much more luxurious than Vila Joya. It has a beautiful spa, 20 well-appointed rooms with sea views and a two-star Michelin restaurant.
How they rate it
“This is the Algarve’s most hedonistic retreat,” says Mary Lussiana in The Daily Telegraph. The hotel has the feel of a “private villa” with “impeccable” service – “the hotel’s policy of finishing breakfast ‘when the last guest has finished’ tells you all you need to know”. The rooms themselves all have different facilities, ranging from a private pool or Jacuzzi to a log fire. There are 12 standard rooms and eight luxurious suites. Outside there are “lush gardens, filled with palms and bougainvillea”, which lead to the beach.
The hotel restaurant is the only one in Portugal to make the top 50 on the San Pellegrino list of the World’s Best Restaurants and until recently it was the only one in the country with two Michelin stars. Tasting menus draw on Austrian chef Dieter Koschina’s central European background and cooking classes are available.
Double rooms start from €315, including breakfast. For more visit www.vilajoya.com, or call 00 351 219 233 200.
What's so special
Away from the big resorts, golf courses and marinas, you’ll find this boutique hotel famed for its beautiful garden. Close to the hotel is the old walled town of Lagos. Several sandy coves can be reached via steep wooden steps down the cliffs.
How they rate it
The garden is the main attraction here. Created by Hans Kortekaas over the past 30 years, it features a 400-year-old olive tree, an orchard with peach, plum and grapefruit trees, and a “classic Italianate garden”, as well as a heated pool, says Tony Dawe in The Times. The owners decided to turn their home into a hotel three years ago and now there are eight spacious suites, each with a terrace or balcony and all with flat-screen TVs and mini-bars.
Breakfasts and light lunches are available daily, with juices straight from the orchard and fresh eggs from the gardener’s farm. Staff will also prepare breakfast or lunch picnics for you to enjoy in the grounds.
Suites start from as little as €100 per night, including breakfast and afternoon tea. The hotel can also be hired out exclusively with prices starting from €1,880 for two nights, with space for 18 guests. For more visit www.boutiquehotelalgarve.com, or call 00 351 282 762135.
Venetian style and luxury
If you’re looking for style and luxury, what could beat a Venetian palace? The Independent’s Laura Holt finds three that have been converted into hotels.
Gritti Palace San Marco has just reopened following a 15-month refurbishment. “Built for the Doge of Venice in 1525, it acted as the Gritti family’s official residence for years, before becoming a hotel in the 19th century.” Notable guests lend their names to the 21 suites – Hemingway and Guggenheim among them – while the Club del Doge restaurant flaunts tables beside the Grand Canal. Doubles from €485, B&B (Thegrittipalace.com).
After buying Ca’ Sagredo Cannaregio (pictured) in the 17th century, the Sagrado family filled it with 800 Renaissance paintings. Today, “a healthy handful remain”. A fresco by Niccolo Bambini and canvases by Andrea Urbani are among them. Doubles from €220, room only (Casagredohotel.com).
For something very different try Ca’ Pisani Dorsoduro. “Step within this ancient merchant’s house for a dash of fresh design flair.” This 29-room property “forgoes the Italian inclination for opulence in favour of clean geometric lines and modern patterns (no chintzy wallpaper and dizzying bedspreads here, thank you)”. Instead, you’ll find artworks by Futurist painter Fortunato Depero and Art Deco walnut furniture. A roof terrace and wine bay “confirm its stylish appeal”. Doubles from €135, including breakfast (Capisanihotel.it).