Pine Cliffs Resort - one of the best beach hotels in Portugal

Pine Cliffs Resort – one of the best beach hotels in Portugal

These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Our writers visited these hotels pre-pandemic.

Beaches are what Portugal does best, closely followed by whitewashed medieval villages and the country’s wine. Fine golden sands run all along the Algarve coastline, in long stretches or tiny coves, framed by mellow limestone rocks. On the west coast, in Comporta, that changes to a tropical, sugar-cube white, whilst north of Lisbon wildflowers poke through the dunes. Even Lisbon has beaches, like Cascais, within a 20-minute ride which is enticing after a day in the city. But with so much to offer in addition to beachy locations, including kids’ clubs, spas, Michelin-starred restaurants, swimming pools and golf courses, here’s our pick of the best beach hotels in Portugal.

The Algarve’s most hedonistic retreat, set on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, houses a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, small spa, abundant gardens, 22 individually decorated suites all with ocean view (and some with private pools) and a cool white-on-white beach shack down on the sand serving cocktails and sushi. The restaurant has been presided over for several decades by Austrian chef Dieter Koschina, with highlights including amber mackerel with cucumber and passion fruit, and pigeon with corn and purple curry. This is the kind of place that most people don’t leave once they have arrived because nowhere outside is quite as lovely as where they are.

• The best hotels in Portugal

Vila Vita Parc has commanding sea views with direct access to the beach and something for everyone, from an outstanding spa and excellent restaurants to golf, tennis and waterskiing. For a special treat try two Michelin-starred Ocean’s superb tasting menu – a culinary work of art by chef Hans Neuner and undoubtedly the best gourmet fare in Portugal today, paired expertly with Portuguese wines. The hotel is built in traditional Portuguese style, with whitewashed exteriors giving way to cool-tiled interiors. Contemporary rooms are well scattered throughout the property, offering seclusion and privacy, while some villas have their own infinity pools.

• The best all-inclusive hotels in the Algarve

A stay here is perfect to add onto a Lisbon break, swapping the capital’s cobbled streets for endless sandy beaches and Atlantic breeze (it takes just 40 minutes to drive here from the city). You’ll find 14 unique rooms glittering with mirrors and candles, log fires, patchwork quilts; and a handful of family villas. Memorable bounty comes from both the vegetable garden and the sea beyond. There’s a spa, bikes to borrow, and evenings see guests gather around the campfire with owner Gonҁalo on the guitar, his partner Marta offering wine and song as the night comes in.

• The best budget hotels in Lisbon

A surfer’s paradise perched above the little fishing port of Baleerira in the unspoilt western Algarve. Views are fabulous: golden sands stretch as far as the eye can see and beautiful limestone rock formations rise from the sea. The hotel is light and minimalist, and features a bar, an excellent boutique and a library. A terrace, serving snacks, overlooks the outdoor swimming pool and an indoor pool can be found in the spa. As well as in-house surf school, other watersports and bikes are available.

• The best budget hotels in Lisbon

A skilful conversion of an ancient rice farm into 73 rooms, four pool villas, an all-wood restaurant and spa right on the edge of the rice fields and a sleek infinity pool that stretches between them. Quinta da Comporta is set in the little village of Carvalhal, and its characteristic Comporta style is understated, drawing on the simple elements that are seen in the landscape such as bamboo and reeds with thatched roofs, raw wood and blue trim on whitewashed walls. Along with 73 rooms there are four three-bedroom pool villas, while the spa takes pride of place, housed in an old wooden barn that was deconstructed and brought from Canada.

An insider’s guide to Lisbon

This stylish boutique hotel is set in a turn-of-the-century villa on Portimao’s premier beach. It opened in 1934 and most of its ornate interiors remain intact, including a beautiful painted wooden ceiling in the bar, an original staircase surrounded by old blue-and-white wall tiles, and period stained-glass windows in the wonderful turret, now a bathroom. It was renovated by Graça Viterbo, an acclaimed interior designer, who introduced bold yellows and reds, nautical stripes and a sea theme in the light-filled rooms. When you’re not admiring the beautiful design or dining in the Michelin-starred restaurant, you’ll be relaxing by the palm-lined pool or in the spa.

• The best hotels in Alentejo

Martinhal offers a bit of everything when it comes to its coastal location: it is perched on a cliff above golden sands, surrounded by the Costa Vicentina Nature Reserve and lies near the historic town of Sagres. With 37 low-lying, ocean-facing and warmly decorated rooms (think squashy sofas and large bean bags) families in particular feel at home here. In fact, it is the only completely child-orientated resort on the Algarve and has a plethora of activities to suit all ages from the heated (unusual in the area) swimming pools and watersports such as paddleboarding or windsurfing, to a great games room. There are bikes to rent, surf lessons to book, as well as dolphin spotting and horse-riding nearby.

An insider guide to the Algarve

Originally built in 1873 as a summer house for the Dukes of Loulé, this handsome whitewashed villa was given a new look by designer Gracinha Viterbo, who wove her trademark yellow-and-blue nautical style throughout. It sits on a cliff head between two golden beaches, with its back to the cobbled streets of Cascais whose old town is a 15-minute stroll away. The beautiful swimming pool lies at the centre of the hotel with views out to the ocean, bikes are available to borrow and there’s a yoga deck. The restaurant also overlooks the beach and a bar is perched right at the end of the cliff, making for a favourite sundowner spot. Most of the hotel’s 51 rooms have sublime sea views.

• The best hotels in Porto

With interiors re-modelled to a white-on-white perfection, the Tivoli brims with a cool, beach-chic vibe topped by a sleek Sky Bar and a seriously gastro restaurant. Echoing the clean, light feel of the public areas, the 248 rooms are decorated in soft blues and greys with huge floor-to-ceiling windows facing the ocean and balconies, in some cases boasting hot tubs. Service is excellent: staff are keen to ensure guest satisfaction, and there’s a spa with sauna, steam room, indoor swimming pool and fitness centre, as well as a huge circular swimming pool with an adjoining kid’s pool perched over the ocean.

Where to stay in Lisbon: hotels by area

Long regarded as a family favourite, Pine Cliffs Resort continues to pull in the crowds with its wide range of facilities, access to 11 restaurants, and array of beach activities. Aside from one of the largest kids’ clubs in the region, there’s a tennis academy, a nine-hole clifftop golf course, watersports, a cookery school and a spa (so parents can catch their breath). The hotel, which is part of Marriot’s Luxury Collection, draws inspiration from the region’s Moorish history and the use of Portuguese tiles throughout evokes an authentic Algarve vibe. Particularly attractive are the Ocean suites, where open-plan space and the breeze from the Atlantic create a feel-good atmosphere.