With Brits having spent much of the year assuming summer holidays were off the cards, it is welcome news that 12 countries have been cleared for quarantine-free travel as part of the government’s first green list. Among them is Portugal and its surrounding islands, where golden beaches, historic villages and bustling cities bask under a roaring sun, with temperatures peaking at 27°C in the summer months. From ancient wine groves to pristine coastal resorts, read on for our guide to the best luxury hotels in Portugal to book this summer.
Six Senses Duoro Valley, Lamego
Located in one of the world’s oldest wine regions, Six Senses Duoro Valley, the hotel group’s first European venture, is housed in a 19th-century building that’s been sensitively renovated by Clodagh Design. Wine tasting, naturally, is one the highlights here, but there’s plenty to do beyond, from cooking classes to paddle boarding to tree climbing.
Exploring the grounds is an activity in itself; wind your way along forest trails and pathways through the vineyards, or take a tour of the historic gardens, parkland or organic vegetable garden, where produce for the three resident restaurants is grown. As to be expected from a Six Senses hotel, the spa is a standout feature, with a comprehensive wellness programme, 10 treatment rooms and a vitality suite, which includes three different types of sauna, a steam room and a laconium.
From approx. £280 per night based on two people sharing
Areias de Seixo, Santa Cruz
Located an hour from Lisbon, on Portugal’s rugged Costa de Prata, Areias de Seixo is a striking beachside retreat with impressive eco-credentials. There are 14 individually-designed rooms to choose from, with four-poster beds cobbled out of driftwood, minimalist, nature-inspired interiors and suspended woodburners in each. There are also a series of villas that sleep up to seven and come with their own kitchens, barbecue areas and outdoor swimming pools.
An Ayurvedic spa is the destination for treatments informed by aromatherapy and phytotherapy, administered with all-natural essential and vegetable oils; there’s also a sauna, Turkish bath and outdoor swimming pool. Sustainability shapes the hotel, with geothermal energy and solar power schemes in place of air-conditioning, and three resident restaurants fuelled by an organic garden. Guests looking to learn more can request a tour of the vegetable patches, or undertake an agricultural lesson with local farmers.
From approx. £300 per night including breakfast
São Lourenço do Barrocal, Alentejo
São Lourenço do Barrocal has been owned by the same family for more than 200 years, but it wasn’t until the estate passed to the hands of eighth-generation owner José Antonio that big changes began to happen. With the help of architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, Antiono spent 14 years transforming the estate, adapting the cluster of barns and farm worker’s rooms into a chic hotel. 22 rooms, two suites and 16 cottages are surrounded by 780 hectares of ancient holm oaks, olive groves and vineyards.
Guests looking to explore the grounds can do so on bicycles or by horse, both of which can be arranged by the attentive staff. For those seeking relaxation, a Susanne Kauffman spa is home to four treatment rooms, where the beauty mogul’s plant-based and organic products are used for an extensive menu of treatments. There’s also a fitness studio, a hydrotherapy room and a picturesque outdoor pool set in the meadows. Dinner is served in two restaurants, both of which champion seasonal and local produce.
From €237 per night for a Winery Room based on two sharing, including breakfast
Reid’s Palace, Madeira
The founder of Reid's Palace was William Reid, a young Scotsman who came to Madeira in the late 19th century in search of warmer climes. He dabbled in baking and winery before setting up a successful import and export business, but felt his true passions lay in hospitality. So began the building of what is now Reid’s Palace, a lavish hotel perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Reid sadly didn’t live to see his vision come to fruition, but his sons completed the task and opened to guests in 1891. Hotel group Belmond took over in 1996, and today the property is one of the most striking establishments in Funchal, the island’s capital.
Choose from 158 rooms and suites, each with its own balcony or private patio area. The Presidential Suites are the finest of them all, both named after two impressive former visitors, George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill, and home to large king-size beds, marble bathrooms and spacious verandas. As far as amenities go, you’ll want for nothing: there are four restaurants (one of which has a Michelin star), three swimming pools, two tennis courts and a spa with treatments using Natura Bissé and Aromatherapy Associates products.
From £325 per night including breakfast and taxes
Dá Licença, Alentejo
This intimate hotel is the vision of Vitor Borges and Franck Laigneau, who spent five years renovating three white-washed farm buildings to create a charming rural retreat. Set among 130 hectares of hills and more than 13,000 olive trees, the hotel’s location is truly unique, with views looking out to the Serra d’Ossa forest and the castles of Evoramonte and Estremoz.
There are just five suites and four bedrooms spread across the trio of buildings, which are home to an extraordinary collection of Arts & Crafts furnishings, gathered by the founders from their travels across Europe. Such is their love of art that there is even an underground gallery-meets-restaurant, set in a former olive oil press and focused on Jugendstil and Anthroposophical design. The guest-only lunch and dinner menu is served in the main house or al fresco in the gardens, and offers dishes made from ingredients grown in the organic garden or sourced from local farmers.
From approx. £233 per night
Pensão Agricola, Algarve
Pensão Agricola was once a farmhouse, which was built in the 1920s by the Silva Gomes family and gifted to their only daughter. It remained a working farm until the 1970s, when it fell into disrepair and remained unused for 40 years. Architecture firm Atelier Rua has brought the property back to life, creating an intimate hotel with just six individually-designed suites.
The interiors are pared-back, with an emphasis on Portuguese makers throughout – the hotel’s signature fig and almond scent, for example, was created by Portuguese nose Lourenço Lucena. Dinner is prepared for guests on request, with regional dishes made using locally-sourced ingredients, while light lunches can be enjoyed on the terrace by the plunge pool. Trips to the beach or local towns can be arranged via TukTuk, or there’s a Vespa and Alfa Romeo Spider convertible available to rent.
From £206 per night during high season, including breakfast