When looking at accommodation options in Portugal, the first thought about this Atlantic-facing nation might be about its seaside resorts. But, if you think that Portugal only has sandy beaches and lively nightlife on the menu, you couldn’t be more mistaken. Not that their beachside hotels and island retreats are lacking in any way; quite the contrary, but simply put, there’s so much more to experience.
As you will see from our list, the best luxury hotels in Portugal offer much in the way of representing the country’s winemaking culture, as well as the more remote inland region.
Bairro Alto Hotel
Situated on the stunning Praça de Camões square, Bairro Alto Hotel is the gold standard of Lisbon’s boutique hotel scene. The Bairro Alto quarter and its cobblestone streets are home to many sights and attractions, including the opulent São Roque Church, the Bica Funicular, a historic railway system, and many traditional buildings as well as hip bars and local cuisine restaurants.
The recent renovation and expansion under the leadership of Eduardo Souto de Moura, a renowned architect, the Bairro Alto Hotel is once again operating in all its former glory. The three buildings comprising the hotel date back to the 18th century, while the main one has an unassuming ochre exterior, tastefully executed to combine the charm of the existing old buildings with a contemporary facade.
The interior decor, done by Atelier Bastir, is characterized by contemporary art and vintage furnishings, while the unobtrusive, romantic lighting and the marble floors create a welcoming and homely atmosphere. The older rooms, which have some of the best views of the square, stay true to their vintage vibe with hand-drawn wallpapers and classic furniture. The newer suites, though, are more adventurous, straying into modern aesthetic territory with vibrant tones of red or turquoise.
In-room amenities include a minibar, vanity and writing desks, flat-screen TV, coffee machines, and free wi-fi throughout the hotel. The rooftop bar and terrace of the hotel is one of the main selling points, providing incomparable views of the surrounding city vista. Should you want to get your daily workout in, you can do so in the well-equipped fitness center in the hotel. The sauna and the steam rooms, on the other hand, are par excellence, should you want to relax after a long day of sightseeing.
The BAHR restaurant is one of a kind; local chef Nuno Mendes provides savory international delicacies. The other all-day dining option is the Mezzanine, while for cocktails and other drinks, you can visit the 18.68 Cocktail Bar.
Double rooms start at $370 in low season.
Near Porto’s picturesque Old Town, south of the Douro river sits an oenophile’s paradise – The Yeatman. But, even if you’re not that much of a wine connoisseur, there’s plenty to enjoy in this hillside high-end hotel. From the remarkable views of the Porto skyline to the historical sights nearby, The Yeatman has something for everyone and plenty for those who enjoy upscale accommodation.
Both the hotel’s interior and exterior are simply striking; from the characteristic pillars and marble staircases to the light-colored walls providing a relaxing ambiance, The Yeatman doesn’t let you forget even for a second that you’re in an exclusive, palatial estate. The 70 rooms and 12 suites are all themed around Portugal’s history and wine culture – paintings and paraphernalia standing as symbols of both. Complimentary wi-fi, exquisite bedding, extravagant toiletries, as well as minibars, TVs, and safes are available in each of the rooms and suites. All of them also have front-facing private balconies.
The fitness center, the spa, providing professional treatments and massages, and the sauna, as well as the bottle-shaped infinity pool with a view, are some of the facilities you get to enjoy when staying at The Yeatman. The indoor heated pool provides some respite if the rooftop gets too crowded for your liking, while the concierge and butler service is simply exceptional.
The Michelin-starred in-house restaurant offers delicious international dishes with an incredibly extensive wine list – a total of 1100 wine bottles! All of the wines are also available for purchase in the hotel’s shop.
Double rooms start at about $260 depending on the season.
The Cliff Bay
Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
As its name would suggest, The Cliff Bay hotel is located on a cliff overlooking the wondrous Atlantic seaside. Having direct access to the sea and being less than a mile away from the town center, The Cliff Bay has the best of both worlds in terms of beachside relaxation and nightlife.
The hotel oozes elegance due to its tasteful Mediterranean Revival architecture, modern furnishings, and rich marble interior. The hotel has a striking airiness to its atmosphere due to the cute balconies with a view and the neatly organized palm trees that form what feels like some tropical garden.
All of the rooms have all the amenities characteristic for a luxury hotel, including flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, safes, minibars, coffee machines, etc. In terms of facilities, though, you simply can’t ask for more; there are multiple swimming pools, including an indoor heated pool, a tennis court, a sauna, a well-equipped fitness center/gym, as well as dry cleaning, laundry, and ironing service. The bespoke wellness center offers all sorts of massages and facial treatments, while the front desk and concierge services (upon request) are available 24/7.
What The Cliff Bay is best known for, though, is its two-Michelin-starred restaurant – the only one of its type on the whole island. Il Gallo d’Oro, headed by chef Benoît Sinthon, offers delicacies such as pigeon eucalyptus and scarlet prawn with caviar, while the main sommelier, Sérgio Marques, provides insight into choosing the best wines that the Portuguese mainland has to offer. For alfresco lunch options with views of the sea, head over to the Blue Lagoon, but if you’re looking for exotic drinks and cocktails, Le Cliff Bar is definitely the go-to option.
Prices for double rooms in low season start at about $180, while in high, they can go up to a starting point of $386.
Estremoz, Alentejo, Portugal
A newcomer on the local hotel scene, Dá Licença breaks the mold of what luxury accommodation should stand for. Located near the historic city of Estremoz, Alentejo, the hotel devotes great attention to the upkeep of an incredible display of art. What’s more, Dá Licença’s hugely exclusive six rooms and suites are set amongst 300 acres of olive groves, dating back to 1904.
The brightly hued exterior accentuates the surrounding seemingly barren, but awe-inspiring landscapes, while the equally chalky interior lets the rooms breathe with the artworks and wooden furnishings standing out in a splendid blend of character. The two rooms in the main building are characterized by peculiar pink marble and commodious terraces, while the four suites, at a separate location, have their own private pools.
Having a focus on art and relaxation, Dá Licença doesn’t have much in the way of decadent room features, apart from the standard resort-wide free wi-fi, room service, and laundry. If you ask us, given the incredible sense of style with which the accommodation is thought out and executed, you won’t even notice that there’s no TV nor will you have a need for it. Some of the suites have their own spacious patios, while the bathrooms are extravagant and feature Claus Porto toiletries.
The Scandinavian art and furniture gallery is the brainchild of Franck Laigneau, who had his own gallery in Paris near the Orsay museum. Heavily influenced by avant-garde design and anthroposophical ideology, Franck evoked the idea that design and architecture shouldn’t be dictated by technology, losing ‘soul’ in the process.
The locally-sourced lunch and dinner options are served in the gardens or in your room and are prepared by chef Miguel, using only the freshest of ingredients. Their specialities include cod with beans and traditional cakes and ice cream, while their very own vegetable garden allows for a very healthy breakfast experience.
Year-round prices for double rooms start at $315.
Another gem of choice in Lisbon’s rich hotel scene has to be Valverde Hotel. The boutique hotel is located on one of the busiest avenues in Lisbon, Avenida da Liberdade, which cuts through marvelous 19th-century architecture housing a plethora of designer stores. It’s worth noting that, despite the attractive outlook of the street, traffic won’t be a problem due to the width of the tree-laden thoroughfare. What’s more, Valverde Hotel is also just a seven-minute drive away from the airport while being near to one of the main train stations.
The 25 rooms and suites allow for resplendent views of the characteristic red rooftop skyline, while antique art, rugs, and retro furniture grace the interior. The rooms themselves don’t further the same motif, and as the building is a historic one, the rooms vary in size and therefore in style. Only the two main suites on the uppermost floor are extremely spacious.
The fitness room in the hotel basement provides a much-needed sanctuary for the sporty sort, while the neighboring film room allows for in-house entertainment. The hotel also has a proper swimming pool, which is not all that common for the bustling streets of Lisbon. The rooms and suites feature safes, minibars, flat-screen TVs, while the bathrooms have hairdryers and complimentary bathroom products.
The in-house restaurant, The Sítio, has an elegant French ambiance with sofas and armchairs. The menu is not all that extensive, but the highlights comprise the best that Portuguese cuisine has to offer, including specialities like codfish fillet, Pastéis de Nata, octopus with rice, and the most refined of local wines.
Double rooms start at $230 in low season and go all the way up to $325 in high.
Vila Joya is the epitome of Algarvean hedonism. Located on the Atlantic cliffside, the resort is home to some of the most visually and sensory breathtaking atmospheres in Portugal. Once the glorious sea views and the serene, lush floral gardens get a hold of you, leaving may prove to be difficult. Apart from the captivating property, the nearby Moorish town of Loulé has plenty in store for those who wish to sightsee.
Nine opulent suites and 13 rooms comprise the property that once was a private villa and the interior decor, which is unique to each one of them, still carries the same affluent vibe despite being more minimalistic in some of the accommodation options. The palm and agapanthus gardens are akin to a piece of heaven, while the outdoor heated swimming pool is a delight unto itself.
All of the suites are commodious, but as is often the case with these types of buildings, some are more sizable than others. Still, they’re all well equipped with amenities including safes, minibars, TVs, refrigerators, air conditioning, free wi-fi throughout the resort, etc. The hotel has direct access to the beach, while the spa and fitness center provide ample opportunity for both relaxation and exertion. Concierge and butler service is available upon request.
The in-house two-Michelin-starred restaurant, headed by Dieter Koschina for several decades, is what really sets Vila Joya apart from all the other oceanside resorts in Algarve. Dinner is served outdoors with romantic views of the waves, while for less formal and less intimate lunch breaks, there is the Chef’s Table. Various seafood combined with exotic fruit and corn roasted pigeon are but a few of the delicacies available on the menu, which also entails a sizeable wine list. Villa Joya Sea, open only during high summer, serves incredible sushi and flavorsome cocktails.
Low season sees the starting prices for double rooms drop to $395, while in high season they can go up to $650.
Six Senses Douro Valley
Six Senses is a household name in the hotel industry, known for their refined luxury accommodation options all over the world. In their latest European venture, they don’t deviate one bit from the dedication and style that brought them worldwide renown. Although, the scenic Douro Valley does give Six Senses a welcome wind at their backs with the no less than amazing landscape.
The 60-room resort is near the historic city of Lamego, making Six Senses Douro Valley a great base for exploration, while the hillside vineyards and neighboring river make for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Clodagh Design did a splendid job in the homely interior of the 19th century main building, where neutral hues and wood panelling blend in with the lush landscape, while contemporary artworks further enliven the atmosphere without doing too much.
Rooms and suites feature minibars, flat-screen TVs, fireplaces, safes, refrigerators, as well as private balconies. The rich library poses a great hub of knowledge for the local history and culture, while the nightly wine tastings are a welcome feast for all your senses. The spa has ten separate treatment rooms, all of which use home-made products from the on-site garden, or bespoke Biologique Recherche lotions. Fitness junkies will be glad to know that there’s a well-equipped gym, an indoor pool, and yoga & pilates pavilions. The sauna and the tennis court are also an option for those looking for a bit of diversity in their workout routines.
Vale d’Abraão Restaurant serves savory traditional Portuguese cuisine, offering a vast seasonal menu of dishes made only from the freshest of local produce. A team of sommeliers ensure you have the best, personalized wine-tasting experience during dinner. Furthermore, you get to choose where you enjoy your food and wine; The Open Kitchen gives you a glimpse into the inner workings of a high-end restaurant, the Terrace and Dining Room is known for its romantic atmosphere, while the Wine Library is the go-to spot for wine enthusiasts.
Double room rates start at $400 in low season.
Vilalara Thalassa Resort
Armação de Pêra, Portugal
Vilalara Thalassa Resort presents visitors with nearly 30 acres of lush gardens, swimming pools, and verdant beachside landscapes enclosed behind secure gates guarantee the utmost privacy. Although, the least believable part, at least to us, was that all of the greenery and secluded opulence is a mere 30-minute drive away from the Faro airport. Simply put, such a retreat with a more than ideal location is quite uncommon, to say the least.
The low, sandy-colored buildings that comprise the resort are akin to the work of Antoni Gaudi, while the interior has all you’d need in terms of amenities and almost nothing that disrupts the atmosphere created by the vivid surrounding nature and heavenly seaside. Most of the rooms, albeit lacking in decor, are very sizable and comfortable, while the ones on the upper floors provide amazing views of the sea.
The in-house spa prides itself on having the best thalassotherapy treatments in the world, equipped with detox, wellness, and slimming programs alike. A total of five swimming pools, one of which is heated, provide variety while sunbathing and the four world-class tennis courts allow for up to par entertainment.
The three restaurants offer something for every taste. Executive chef Pedro Sequeira heads the B&G Restaurant, offering a la carte traditional Portuguese multi-course dishes. The Terrace Grill adds an international option for the less-adventurous bunch, providing fresh seafood and barbecue, while the Tonic Lounge Bar is there should you develop a thirst for cocktails by the pool.
Double room prices in low season start at $220.
Winner of the “Best of the Best” hotel award for 2019 by the eminent Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Casa Fortunato presents an incredibly exclusive accommodation option in the heart of Lisbon all the while breaking the mold of what a luxury hotel should be. The owners, António and Filipa, converted their property into an exceptional nine-room hotel, providing world-class service to guests. Casa Fortunato should be the go-to option for those who wish to experience this one of a kind estate.
The rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, providing views of the surrounding early 20th century architecture, while brown and white tiles and minimalistic wallpapers grace the floors and walls. The homely vibe is further accentuated by the tasteful modern decor, and once you see it, you’ll realize that the owners were meant to be architects due to the refined stylistic choices. The bathrooms have complimentary Diptyque amenities, rain showers, and enormous soaking tubs.
The staff is exceptionally discreet, yet friendly, while room service is swift and attentive. Daily yoga classes and massages are available upon request, as well as cooking classes, focusing on macrobiotic cuisine.
The dinner and lunch options reflect the household dedication to macrobiotics and the professional chef serves impeccable dishes such as almond vichyssoise or pumpkin seed paté combined with quinoa and lemon. Breakfast has buffet options as well as additional dishes such as scrambled tofu or soup.
Prices for double rooms vary depending on the season, but are mainly around the $560 mark.
Sul Villas & Spa
São Miguel Island, Portugal
Although the “Portugal and clifftop, oceanside hotel combination” might come off as a pattern, there’s a reason for such a broad multitude of seemingly same choices – they’re just that good. And Sul Villas & Spa Hotel is yet another twist to the combo, offering a uniquely serene experience. The backdrop of undulating green hills of Santa Cruz and the prime oceanfront is not something you see every day.
The white contemporary buildings of the resort provide a contrast to the neighboring village in an almost palatial way, albeit maintaining the modern yet serene vibe. The interior is also dominated by neutral hues with driftwood and natural fabric decorations. Furthermore, Sul Villas & Spa doesn’t let the prime location go to waste, featuring floor to ceiling windows in every villa, providing incomparable views of the surrounding landscape.
Four of the six Junior Suites have private pools, while the two exclusive Prime Suites have fully equipped kitchenettes and private outdoor jacuzzis on the balcony. It also goes without saying that air conditioning and free wi-fi are available in all accommodation options. Both have commodious bathrooms as well; the Prime Suites have Victorian-style bathtubs, while the Junior Suites have indoor and outdoor showers.
The spa center provides sensory and physical respite for those who need it, offering aromatherapy and chromotherapy treatments, as well as having a proper steam room. The public salt water outdoor pool is definitely the cherry on top in what’s an unforgettable estate.
The only knock on Sul Villas & Spa would probably be their food and drink options, or lack thereof. The resort doesn’t have its own restaurant, but the kitchenettes might prove to be more than enough for some. Buffet breakfast is included in the price and is served in a dining room overlooking the ocean.
Prices start at $185 in low season.