Direct access to Sao Rafael Beach, a five-minute walk
Free shuttle to old town Albufeira, a 10-minute drive
Two large outdoor pools and children's pool
Spa with thermal pools, sauna, and Turkish bath
Indoor pool, fitness center, and kids' club
Mediterranean restaurant, dinner buffet, and beachfront seafood restaurant
Seasonal poolside bar, piano bar, and chill-out bar with ocean views
Spacious, modern rooms with Nespresso machines and flat-screen TVs
Some rooms have balconies and/or ocean views
Free Wi-Fi throughout the property
We spotted some wear on furniture
Fee for breakfasts and parking
Fee to use sauna, steam room, and thermal baths at the spa
Occasional issues with cold buffet food
Fee for additional Nespresso pods in rooms
Sao Rafael Atlantico is a contemporary four-pearl hotel with a scenic spot overlooking the sea, about a 10-minute drive west of Albufeira's old town. Style is a major step up from much of its Albufeira competition, though fees can add up. The hotel has direct access to Sao Rafael Beach and also features two outdoor pools, a children's pool, kids' club, fitness center, and spa with thermal pools, sauna, and Turkish bath. The hotel also has several restaurants and bars. The 149 upscale rooms have a simple, minimalistic look, though we spotted some wear. They come with minibars, Nespresso machines, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs. Travelers looking for a less expensive hotel in this area might consider the nearby Baia Grande, though it's more dated.
Beachy upscale hotel with contemporary interiors and a prized setting above Sao Rafael Beach
Sao Rafael Atlantico is perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Sao Rafael Beach, with direct beach access via wooden walkway. That location means that views of the sea are available from the grounds and several of the restaurants and bars, and the setting is one of the property's prime draws. The hotel is in a quiet and scenic setting on five acres of thoughtfully landscaped grounds with lawns and a variety of trees. Even so, style isn't forsaken here, and this property is far more contemporary than much of the competition around Albufeira. Expect soft, moody color palettes plus sculptural wood details and sleek, low-slung seating. With its kids' club and children's pool, the Sao Rafael attracts plenty of families. Well-heeled couples and tourists benefit from the direct beach access, wealth of facilities, and location not far from old town Albufeira.
Quiet location a five-minute walk from Sao Rafael Beach; 10-minute drive from old town Albufeira
Sao Rafael Atlantico is in a quiet seaside area away from the Albufeira hubbub. While there are plenty of other hotels nearby, there's isn't much to see or do within an easy walk, aside from the beach, which is five minutes away on foot. The hotel does run a free thrice-daily shuttle to Albufeira's old town, but it helps to have a car to explore the region. Golf is a popular pastime in the area, and Salgados Golf Course is a 10-minute drive. Albufeira Marina is a little under a five-minute drive and the old town's tourist bustle is 10 minutes away by car. The Avenida sa Carneiro strip of shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs will take about 15 minutes to reach by car, as will the train station. Faro Airport is a little over 35 minutes away by car, and it's a two-hour-and-15-minute drive to Lisbon.
Spacious, simple, and modern, with free Wi-Fi and Nespresso machines
The spacious rooms and suites at Sao Rafael have a modern look, with high-end furnishings and bedding, though the overall look is simple and we spotted some disappointing wear on some of the seating during our visit. Still, the muted contemporary art on the walls and the creamy, earth-tone color schemes make these a pleasantly fresh alternative to many of the dated hotels that plague this region. Slatted wood accents add an additional sleek character that's easy on the eyes. All rooms come with minibars, Nespresso machines, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs. The hotel charges a fee for additional Nespresso pods above the two free pods provided each day. Microwaves are available upon request (supplies limited). Each suite has a dining table and living area with sofa bed. Some rooms have balconies and/or ocean views. Bathrooms are spacious and have a stylish look plus make-up mirrors, bidets, and hairdryers. Some do not have bathtubs. Suites have a second bathroom. All rooms and public spaces at the hotel are non-smoking.
Direct beach access, three outdoor pools, spa, and several restaurants
Sao Rafael Atlantico's best feature is its beach proximity, and there's a private walkway directly to Sao Rafael Beach, with sunbeds provided for a fee. The hotel has two large outdoor swimming pools and a smaller children's pool, surrounded by a deck and palm trees. There are rarely issues with getting a lounge chair. The indoor pool is about 15 meters long and has a waterfall features at one end. Swim caps are required, and can be rented for a fee. A small fitness center is on site. The excellent spa offers a wide range of massages and other treatments, and features two thermal pools, a sauna, and Turkish bath, though there are fees to access any of it. The kids' club (ages 3-11) has a TV, games, painting, karaoke, movies, and dancing. The good-quality breakfast buffet consists of an ample spread of hot and cold items, though it's not free like other Albufeira hotels. The beachfront restaurant overlooks the ocean and specializes in fresh seafood. The hotel also has a dinner buffet restaurant and Mediterranean restaurant, both with outdoor dining and ocean views. 24-hour room service is available. A lobby bar, seasonal poolside bar, piano bar, and stylish bar with an oceanview outdoor deck keep thirst at bay. Prices are a bit expensive in both the restaurants and bars, and there are occasional issues with the buffet food being cold. The hotel also hosts weddings, and has meeting rooms and a business center. Parking isn't free -- which is odd in the Algarve -- and a free shuttle runs to old town Albufeira three times daily.
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