Daily activities include yoga and cocktail classes, or wine tastings
Free Wi-Fi throughout
No one under 16 allowed (pro for some)
All-inclusive rates aren't available
Not within walking distance of Lagos and no shuttle
Food gets mixed reviews
Previously known as the Yellow Lagos Meia Praia, the sleek and sexy Sensimar Lagos is an adult-only, four-and-a-half-pearl resort in a quiet residential area outside of central Lagos. The hotel's 221 rooms and suites are sharp and contemporary, and include air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, open-plan bathrooms, and -- in most -- views of the sea. Features include three pools, a gym, and a spa with an indoor pool, water circuit, and La Phyto-based treatments. Both buffet and a la carte dining are offered, if mediocre, and daily activities include yoga and cocktail-making classes. Unfortunately, there is no shuttle into Lagos and all-inclusive rates aren't available. If you're looking for a nearby upscale spot that's kid-friendly, check out the Vila Gale Lagos and its huge pool (all for about half the price).
Sharp, contemporary resort with laid-back vibe and quieter, adult-only atmosphere
Sensimar Lagos is world's away from Lagos -- literally and figuratively. While the beach is just across the road, the distance from Lagos means plenty of peace and quiet. As such, this is a popular pick with travelers seeking a refined adult-only experience. Interiors are fresh, bright, and modern, with stark white decor and handsome neutral furniture, plus dashes of hardwood and clean minimalist lines. With its U-shaped layout, the hotel opens to two stunning pools and the beach across the road. The Algarve's abundant sunlight pours in through walls of windows. Guests are greeted with a free drink and check-in takes place seated at the many clusters of furniture throughout the lobby -- setting the casual vibe right off the bat. During our visit, the hotel was nearly full, but the atmosphere remained tranquil, with most guests taking in the sun or sipping cocktails on the hotel's terraces. The clientele is British and German, most of whom are couples, but keep in mind that kids aren't allowed. It's also worth noting that most of the hotel is booked by travel agencies, so check ahead on availability and packages.
Across from Meia Praia, a 15-minute drive to Lagos' charming old town
This hotel's setting is a blessing or an inconvenience depending on your travel style. For those who plan to do little else but visit the beach and hang out on-site, the isolated residential area is a blessing -- Meia Praia is just across the road and the only other neighbors are low-key hotels and private homes. However, there are just a few casual restaurants within five to 10 minutes on foot, and the hotel lacks a shuttle, so you'll need a car to explore the area. It's a 15-minute drive into Lagos' old town, which has quaint cafes, traditional Algarvian restaurants, and boutiques. It's a couple minutes farther by car to Praia Dona Ana, arguably the area's most famous beach. Ponta da Piedade, which has clifftop trails looking down on Lagos' iconic rock arches in the sea below, is also just over 15 minutes away by car. The tiny town of Sagres is a 35-minute drive west, while scenic Ferragudo is the same distance in the opposite direction. The closest airport is in Faro, which is just over an hour away by car. Otherwise, Lisbon and its airport are a two-hour-and-40-minute drive from the Sensimar.
Bright and modern rooms with air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi, plus Premium Suites featuring private pools
Rooms and suites are spacious and modern, with floor-to-ceiling windows that bring in loads of natural light. The look continues the hotel's minimalist approach, with mostly bare walls, tiled entryways, plush off-white carpeting, and chic contemporary furniture in shades of taupe and brown. Wood details add even more class, as do the mirrored panels holding flat-screen TVs. Other standard features include air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, mini-fridges or minibars, kettles for coffee and tea (which are free and replenished daily), and outdoor space that includes balconies or terraces. Lower-floor rooms have lovely cabanas or wicker bucket seating on their terraces, while top-floor Premium Suites add plunge pools in some units, as well as outdoor dining tables and/or loungers. About 90 percent of the rooms have at least a glimpse of the sea. Suites also add king beds and living rooms, plus sparkling polished tile floors. Open-plan bathrooms sport sleek fixtures and luxury extras like separate soaking tubs and walk-in showers plus premium bath products.
Full-service spa, four laid-back bars, and three pools, though the food gets mixed reviews
There are a number of features on-site, which explains (in part) why so many guests never bothered to leave the grounds during our visit. The spa is a highlight, and both the heated indoor pool and compact, modern gym are free to use. There are three treatment rooms, including one for couples, and luxe La Phyto products are used for treatments. It also includes a Turkish bath, sauna, and Vichy shower. There are two sharp pools outside, surrounded by over 300 sun loungers, so sunbathing space is rarely an issue.
Despite its quiet, residential setting, there are still a number of places to kick back with a cocktail here, including lobby and terrace options. Otherwise, the Sensimar Bar has the look of an airport lounge bar but is still the best place to grab a cocktail, while the stylish and casual Fresco snack bar serves up drinks plus pizza and pasta. It's a favorite among guests, along with the easygoing Pool Bar. Other dining options include The Kitchen, a buffet restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, and a Culinarium, an a la carte restaurant with a good local wine menu. Most previous guests agree that the breakfast is decent to good, with a nice selection of food (and sparkling wine). Unfortunately, dinner can be a bit more hit and miss.
There's low-key nightly entertainment plus daily activities like yoga, cocktail classes, and wine tastings. Wi-Fi is free, and there's a public computer. Kids under 16 are not allowed. Given its distance from town (and pricey rates), the lack of a shuttle to Lagos is surprising, but there is free parking for travelers with cars.