A 10- to 15-minute walk into Lagos' charming old town
Charming residential-style property with lots of intimate areas
Two pools surrounded by gardens and loungers
Attractive rooms with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and furnished balconies
Well-liked, free breakfast buffet with local specialties
Casual bar in the lobby for drinks into the evening
Spa treatment room for massages
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Parking is limited
Confusing layout involves two properties bisected by street
Lunch and dinner not served on-site
From the outside, the Dom Manuel Hotel is an unassuming property that blends into its mixed-use neighborhood. However, once inside, this 49-room boutique property has a lot of classic Portuguese charm and a bustling, but relaxed, atmosphere. The free buffet breakfast is a popular feature that brings together the couples who stay here, and there are two quiet pools and a spa treatment room as well. Rooms are modern, with a touch of Portuguese style, and include air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and furnished balconies. There's a simple bar as well. Keep in mind that parking is limited, and it's a 10- to 15-minute walk into the old town. Travelers wanting to be closer to Praia Dona Ana may want to consider Carvi Hotel Lagos instead, where rates can be cheaper.
Casual and quaint boutique property that draws mature couples
The Lagos outskirts are packed with plenty of small-scale properties, but Dom Manuel manages to pack a lot of charm into a compact package. It looks no different than the neighborhood homes all around, the walk down the brick-lined. But the flower-canopied pathway to the hotel's common areas sets a fine, relaxed mood. The villa style buildings are filled with a blend of Mediterranean design, classic Portuguese elements, and modern touches. Common areas are tucked away and packed with antique furniture, vibrant tilework, full suits of armor, and handsome paintings. Outside, flower and plants burst in nearly every common area, from the pool to the breakfast room (which spills out onto a terrace). It can be a little tricky to navigate the property, given that it's separated into four buildings and two sections. However, most guests here are pleased with the quiet, relaxed atmosphere. During our visit, breakfast was a hive of sociable activity, and there's always someone perched next to the pool. Even so, given the limited amenities, most of the mature couples who pass through here spend their days out and about.
In a semi-suburban area, a 10-minute walk from Lago's old town walls
The immediate area around the hotel won't win any charm awards -- it's mostly other larger hotels, a few local restaurants, and residential developments. It's also worth noting that parking is limited in front of the hotel, and spots are scarce on the surrounding streets, so you'll have to pay for lot parking nearby. It's a 10-minute downhill walk to the old town walls, and about 15 minutes to the more lively streets inside. There, you'll find plenty of cafes, restaurants, shops, and pastelerias, and the cobbled alleys make for fine, atmospheric strolling. It's worth investing in a cab back if hills aren't your thing -- the drive takes five minutes, at most. It's 10- to 15 minutes on foot to the area's beaches, including stunning Praia Dona Ana. Scenic sunsets at Ponta da Piedade are a five-minute drive away as well. The closest airport is in Faro, which is an hour away by car. Lisbon and its airport are about a two-and-a-half-hour drive away.
Charming rooms with local flair plus flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and free Wi-Fi
There are plenty of fusty old hotels and heinously dated rooms in the Algarve -- in fact, we've slept in many of them. Thankfully, the spotless rooms here are exactly the opposite, while still retaining a nice dose of Portuguese character. The liberal use of deep colors like navy blue, or chic sage green, complement bolder choices like azulejo-style headboards. Some rooms have beach-chic jute seating while others employ modern furniture with intentionally classic forms. Decor does vary a bit from room to room, though all are pleasantly up-to-date, and feature just enough contemporary art to give them character.
Standard features include free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, phones, air-conditioning, mini-fridges, electric kettles, and safes. While Classic Rooms are a bit compact, Superior Rooms and Junior Suites have generous floor plans. All have small, furnished balconies. Bathrooms are a bit of a mixed bag. Many have sleek, modern bathrooms with rainfall stall showers. However, others are done in a slightly dated tile and have older fixtures. Toiletries and hairdryers come standard, as well as a good amount of counter space for storage.
Two pools, a well-liked breakfast buffet, simple bar, and spa treatment room
There aren't too many features here, though what they've managed to pack into two quite compact parcels of land is impressive. There are two pools, neither of which is large, though we didn't spot any fights for seats when we were there. Both are surrounded by plants and walls, keeping them hidden from the street and adding a little atmosphere. There is no poolside service, but the bar is open throughout the day and into the evening -- it's just off of the lobby. The breakfast buffet is free, and includes a well-liked mix of hot and cold options, plus a nice spread of traditional Portuguese items. Seating is indoors and outdoors, but lunch and dinner aren't available. A small spa treatment room, which is a modern and fresh little space, is also off the lobby. The front desk isn't staffed around the clock -- something to keep in mind -- and parking out front is limited. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel, and the front desk can arrange various tours and excursions.