The overlooked younger sister of the Iberian Peninsula no more: These days, Portugal is all anyone can talk about. From its sparkling capital city to the golden sands of the long and sprawling coast, Portugal continues to enchant flocking tourists from all corners of the globe eager to see what the buzz is about.
They’re rarely – if ever – disappointed. The gastronomy is matched only by its wine, while the gentle rolling hills of the inland terrain are as excellent for golf as the tall handsome waves of the many, many beaches are for surfing. And that is, of course, before we even begin to discuss the millennia-old history and heritage of the ancient nation.
Akin to next door Spain, Portugal is pleasantly populated with a variety of luxury hotels. Naturally, many are found in the bustling Lisbon and the romantic Porto, but don’t miss out on the smaller boutiques further in the country. Village life to wine valleys provides gorgeous insight into the sun-soaked way of life in continental Europe’s westernmost country. Here is our round up of the best luxury hotels across Portugal.
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon
A classic of the genre is the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, a bastion of Portuguese luxury hospitality and a celebration of Portugal’s heritage: All the pomp and gild of an Iberian Palace that feels somewhat reminiscent of the Portuguese Golden Age. From tapestries and paintings to modern Portuguese art, this is a real experience in the country’s culture – there’s even an specially designed app for it.
The outdoor swimming pool is heated during the winter months and the flagship restaurant, Cura, is reminiscent of 1950s jet-set glamor culture. Another one of its restaurants, Varanda, feels akin to a tropical oasis with its brilliant outdoor terrace overlooking Eduardo VII Park. And the spa is especially good: Open until 10.30pm, it is just another Four Seasons touch that really shows why the company’s understanding of the modern tourist keeps them so ahead of the game.
For a truly unforgettable experience of Portuguese greatness and grandeur, don’t miss out on booking a night in the Presidential Suite. Located on the 10th floor, five private terraces boast city vistas across Lisbon, including the nearby Eduardo VII Park, the Tagus River, the Marques de Pombal Monument and the 25th April Bridge.
Areias do Seixo
For the ultimate beach vacation getaway, Areias do Seixo is pure bohemian luxury without the crowds nor the pomp. There’s a quiet decadence to this fabulous hotel experience; the driftwood and candlelight furnishings are all lavishly top quality, whilst the beach aesthetic is romantic, rather than shabby.
The Ayurvedic spa is visually magnificent, and the three restaurants of the hotel all feature locally sourced produce, some even from the hotel’s own vegetable garden. Totally committed to sustainability, the whole hotel is powered by renewable energy, and Areias do Seixo supports local community associations that promote sustainability for young families.
Decadent ‘tents’ are available beside the lake for those that desire to be closer to nature. On the other end of the spectrum, whole villas can be rented out that come equipped with their own private pools and outdoor dining facilities. This is a luxury hotel in Portugal that truly celebrates the country’s land, both today and tomorrow.
Six Senses Duoro Valley
No list of the best luxury hotels in Portugal would be complete without the inclusion of one of the many fabulous offerings found within Duoro Valley. Flowing from Spain through to Portugal, where the river eventually meets the Atlantic Ocean, it is particularly known for its wine valleys; it is, in fact, the oldest distinguished wine-making region in the world. Here to put on a tremendous show of it, while doing its bit to enhance and protect the glorious landscape, is Six Senses, industry leaders in sustainable luxury.
The company’s European debut, Six Senses Duoro Valley allows the unspoiled nature around the resort to lead the interior and exterior design; the gardens are wondrous, and the architecture stays true to its 19th-century heritage. The spa is, naturally, utterly gigantic, and offers a wide enough range to accommodate every type of guest.
As for accommodation, there are 71 rooms and suites to pick from, each offering its own wealth of wonderful amenities and blissful countryside vistas. Our favorite, however, is the Two Bedroom Pool Villa. Hosting a private garden with its own pool, a shaded gazebo and generous living spaces, this is the ultimate experience in Duoro Valley luxury.
Located atop a hill right beside its own pocket of the Algarve is Vila Vita, one of Portugal’s most luxurious hotel experiences and, naturally, one of its most exclusive. Somewhat of an institution in its own right, this luxury hotel is a Portugal mega-resort, akin to the types more commonly seen in the States, complete with a nine-hole golf course, a lazy afternoon treat easily followed up in one of its six bars, or 12 restaurants. One of which, Ocean, even boasts two Michelin stars.
This isn’t to say that Vila Vita is too big, or lacking in character. Far from it. Built in the traditional Portuguese style, lush and vibrant gardens add color to the surroundings. Kids will love the ducks and swans as much as they love the pools, which are built in line with, rather than to stand out from, the grounds that so lean into the natural landscape of the region.
There are rooms, suites, and even villas and apartments to pick from, with the latter particularly advised for those seeking ultimate privacy and seclusion. Depending on whether you travel with family, friends or a loved one, there’s something for everyone. The five-bedroom Vila Trevo, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, comes with its own sun terrace, Jacuzzi and even infinity pool. Ducks and swans, however, are not included.
Torel Palace, Porto
The coastal town of Porto is increasingly popular, welcoming more and more international tourists to its winding cobbled roads and atmospheric riverside paths. Reflecting the romantic ambiance of the town’s old-school, artisan charm is Torel Palace, a 19th-century townhouse based right in the heart of the city.
The service is fantastic, and its atmosphere is lively; this is a boutique hotel that welcomes the mingling of guests and the enabling of conversation in its many glorious living spaces, whether beside the bohemian stylized pool and terrace or the Art Deco restaurant, Blind. The wellness suite puts an emphasis on the natural rather than the mechanical, further reflecting the moment-in-time quality Torel Palace gets so right.
There are 24 rooms to pick from, and each differs considerably from the others due to the hotel’s maintenance of its original architecture. All, however, boast great ceilings and tall windows for that optimal southern European feel of great grandeur. Each room is named after a different Portuguese writer or poet: The Suite Fernando Pessoa, designed by Isabel Sá Nogueira, features wonderful city views.
Reid’s Palace, Madeira
Charming, glamorous, and utterly saturated in Portuguese and European history; Reid’s Palace, A Belmond Hotel, is a masterclass of the old-school British luxury hotel right in the heart of Portugal. Located upon the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and surrounded by lush, subtropical gardens, there is an otherworldliness to this century-old palatial hotel.
Former guests include Winston Churchill, who wrote his war memoirs here, and famed playwright George Bernard Shaw. You don’t go for the history, however (although it certainly adds to the glitzy intrigue of the place). Styled to a timeless perfection and catering for everyone, guests can enjoy its range of amenities from its spa, its pool terrace, its two fantastic restaurants, the bar, and even organized trips to catch sunset at Pico do Arieiro.
Any room at Reid’s Palace, a Belmond Hotel, is a luxurious experience. We recommend going all out and booking a Presidential Suite for the ultimate experience in Portuguese luxury. With large living spaces, balmy terraces and vistas overlooking the Ocean, it’ll be difficult to drag yourself away.