L'Occitane spa with hammam, sauna, treatment rooms, and small gym
Peaceful and pleasant pool area with cabanas, loungers, and pool bar service
Outstanding upscale restaurant serving Portuguese and Mediterranean dishes
Upscale lounge bar with subtle nautical vibe, painted tiles, and mosaics
Free breakfast, mid-day smoothies and fruit, and Wi-Fi
Children under 12 not allowed (pro for some)
Typical of the area, it's a long walk down to the beach
Some complaints of street noise from the bars and clubs
Some guests feel the immediate surrounds and town lack character
Small daily fee for parking
Relais & Chateaux's Bela Vista Hotel & Spa is a five-pearl boutique housed in a gorgeous 1918 mansion, with luxe decor that dips its toes into both the past and modern day. The hotel's hilltop location off a pedestrian-only street in the Praia de Rocha area gives guests easy and walkable access to restaurants, bars, golfing, and shops plus direct beach access via hundreds of stairs. The 38 stylish and bright air-conditioned rooms are well-outfitted and many have ocean views. Guests rave over food at VISTA Restaurant, the top-notch L'Occitane spa, and lovely pool area, but street noise and the disappointing immediate surroundings pop up in the complaints. Free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and private parking are also offered. Kids under 12 aren't allowed, so families should check out the nearby Hotel Algarve Casino, though it's not as striking.
A beautiful historic property with exquisite interiors that balance traditional decor and modern style
The well-preserved, early 20th-century mansion that houses Relais & Chateaux's Bela Vista Hotel & Spa has retained its style and sophistication in its new life as the area's only five-pearl boutique hotel (as of spring 2017). This is no doubt in part thanks to the careful work of renowned interior designer Graca Viterbo. Since its inception as a hotel, Bela Vista's guestbook has seen its fair share of famous signatures, including European kings, the fourth president of Portugal, and a mid-century Cuban dictator. However, travelers more likely to share the space with 30- to 40-something couples or retirees these days.
While guests may not be big fans of the surrounding tourist-heavy town, the spacious grounds and open views toward the Atlantic are an undeniable draw. Interior spaces are outfitted with a mix of chic, modern furnishings and traditional Portuguese accents, including the lobby's large oak staircase, slick black-and-white-checkered tile floor, and blue-and-white ceramic tiles. Like some rooms, the sea-themed VISTA Restaurant has a sleek indoor space with mostly white furnishings offset by red and blue details such as fish and coral artwork. Every space within the property is thoughtfully designed, and the vibe throughout is peaceful, also thanks to the hotel's policy of not allowing children under 12.
Hilltop location off the beach, within walking distance to a plethora of restaurants and bars
The hotel is located directly off a pedestrian-only street in the Praia de Rocha area of Portimao. While the street-side location gives great, easy access to a number of restaurants, bars, shops, and nightlife within walking distance, the hotel's clifftop perch means guests have to walk down (and then back up) hundreds of stairs and a long wooden walkway to reach the beach. However, it's important to note that in this built-up area of Praia da Rocha, climbing up and down lengthy sets of stairs is unavoidable since it's the only way to access the beach. There are several Portimao golf courses within a 10-minute drive. Faro Airport is about an hour drive from the hotel, while day trips to places like the quiet and quaint seaside Sagres and the bustling capital of Lisbon are an hour and two-and-a-half hours by car, respectively.
Stylish and bright rooms; most with outdoor space and sea views
The 38 rooms are spread out over the hotel's three buildings, though rooms in the original mansion tend to have a touch more character thanks to building details. Rooms in the annex buildings, The Palace and Blue House, feel a bit more modern and have easier access to electrical outlets. All, however, are stylish and bright with colorful decor such as striped bedding, chevron rugs, turquoise-painted walls, and red floating desks. Junior Suites and Suites add separate sitting areas. Most of the rooms have a balcony or terrace with partial or complete sea views, though be sure to request this as there are a few with great views but no balcony.
All rooms come with comfy beds, air-conditioning, terrycloth bathrobes, towels for the pool, free Wi-Fi, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, and minibars. iPhone/iPod docks are also available on request. Bathrooms have either walk-in showers or shower/tub combos, and come with L'Occitane bath products, hairdryers, bidets, and heated towel racks. Note that several guests have complained of street noise from a nearby club off the main street, so light sleepers should request accordingly.
An outstanding restaurant, small but peaceful pool area, and luxurious L'Occitane spa
The hotel's standout feature is definitely its VISTA Restaurant. This seafood-heavy spot focuses on freshness, touts a highly recommended tasting menu, and is repeatedly praised by guests for its reasonable prices and sophisticated and delicious take on modern Northern Portuguese and Mediterranean fare. Though the restaurant has yet to earn its first Michelin star (much to the surprise of diners) Executive Chef, Joao Oliveira, is no stranger to the designation having served as a sous-chef under two famous Portuguese chefs when they received this award.
A close runner-up for most alluring amenity is the hotel's luxe L'Occitane-branded spa. In this 4,300-square-foot (400-square-meter) space, guests will find a bright relaxation room with a pool, small sauna, Hammam, and a small gym outfitted with a few cardio machines. There are six treatment rooms, some with in-room whirlpools, and two couples' treatment rooms. The peaceful outdoor pool is gorgeous and has views of the ocean. Guests can grab one of the many loungers lining the pool deck or try and snag a cabana. Drink service is available, and during the middle of the day, free smoothies and fresh fruit are provided.
The Bela Vista also has its own private and direct access to the beach below the cliff, though the several hundred stairs tends to defer most people back to the pool. However, the hotel has beach baskets with towels and bottled water for anyone making the journey down. There are loungers and umbrellas for a flat fee that can be charged to your room. Visitors can expect free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and a small daily fee to park in the gated lot.
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