Travel

Where to stay in Faro

A sunseekers’ favourite, the capital of the Algarve does a surprisingly fine line in pared-back lodgings. Head south to discover Portugal at its rural best.Friday, May 10, 2019

By Julia Buckley
Cafe in Faro Old Town, Algarve.

Think of the Algarve and think of Spanish-style resort towns? They’re there, largely strung along the western side of the coast, but from Faro towards the border with Spain, it’s a different story. Faro itself — the Algarve’s capital — is a fiercely Portuguese city, with medieval walls encircling a pretty old town. And as you venture eastwards, you get a glimpse of how the Algarve once was: small whitewashed villages, wild beaches and the pristine natural park of Ria Formosa. Portugal does slow tourism brilliantly, and this area is no exception. Beyond the big hotels are sympathetically converted country houses and old farms, which keep traditions alive by growing their own food (organic, of course) and putting the emphasis on sustainability. It’s not all about the beach, either — for a real feel of the Algarve, you’ll need to go inland.

1. Mercedes Country House

What was once a typical Algarve Barrocal country house is today one of the region’s loveliest hotels. Opened in 2017, it’s a delightfully modern remake of traditional architecture — a twist on that low, blocky, whitewashed Mediterranean look. There’s a firm focus on slow tourism, from the building itself (restored using local materials where possible), to the organic restaurant, which serves produce grown in the hotel’s orchards and vegetable garden. Traditional doesn’t mean rustic here — the style is contemporary without being incongruous, the mottled wood floors and stark white walls offset by modern fittings. The nine bedrooms are large and spacious, and the garden features a large saltwater pool. From £68.

Casa Flor de Sal.

2. Casa Flor de Sal

This former farm, 20 minutes’ drive from the city, lies in the Ria Formosa National Park. The once-dilapidated buildings have been beautifully restored, and the grounds include two pools, a natural swimming lake and wild gardens. Houses from £81.

3. Quinta Do Marco

This rural hotel is plonked in the middle of the countryside, offering jaw-dropping views down to the coast. Guests can wander the gardens, take a nap in a hammock or explore the 18-hectare farm. From £56.

Lemon Tree Stay.

4. Lemon Tree Stay

Opened in 2017, this eight-room guesthouse has small, chic rooms overlooking a courtyard and herb garden in the heart of Faro — but the real highlight is the rooftop terrace with a view over the town. From £59.

Published in the June 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Follow us on social media 

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Flipboard

Read More