The sunny Algarve, in Portugal, has long been a favourite amongst the British for golf, beach and tennis holidays, especially to the west of Faro. Until recently this area of the Algarve has had the best luxury hotels to choose from including large luxury hotels, golf resorts and spa hotels. This is now set to change with a great choice of charming hotels to the East. Some are new hotel openings and some have taken on a new lease of life after renovation and new management.
We visited one of these charming hotels, Vila Monte Farm House, over October half term. Just a 20-minute drive east of Faro, this 55-room Chic Retreat is easy to get to by taxi or hire car. Even if staying for just a few days we recommend you hire a car as it’s in the countryside and you may want to venture out and explore the coastal villages and nearby beaches.
Vila Monte Farm House
The entrance to Vila Monte is rather unassuming, up along a cobbled drive through the estate’s olive trees. The lobby, where you check-in, however, is a magnificent, whitewashed space with an open fireplace, surrounded by seating, as the focal point. Leading off here is a boutique selling local food and artisan produce, glass windows into the À Terra restaurant kitchen and large glass doors leading onto a shaded dining terrace outside and the garden.
We were in room 47, a Superior Suite, near the Laranjal Restaurant, off a pretty orange-tree lined avenue. Sleeping 4 (2 adults and 2 children) these light and bright rooms have their own small terrace and the sitting room doubles up as the children’s sleeping area. The double bedroom has a massive bed that has to be one of the most comfortable hotel beds we’ve slept in. There’s complimentary WiFi throughout Vila Monte but WiFi within the rooms is controlled through the Smart TVs ie. the TVs have to be on for you to activate the WiFi, which can be a little annoying!
We did take a peek at Suite No. 49, wow! This suite is massive and has its own terrace and small outdoor pool. It’s totally private and is perfect if you’re travelling as a couple and want your very own little retreat. The bathroom features a huge tadelakt bath big enough for two.
Breakfast at Vila Monte Farm House is a magnificent feast of custard tarts, mini doughnuts, baguettes, waffles and pancakes. There’s an omelette station and in addition to the hot food, there’s a selection of cheeses, hams, olive oils, tomatoes and cucumber. The choice of jams is amazing and the honeycomb honey is a real treat. There’s a herbal tea bar with freshly-picked herbs from the garden and every kind of milk you can think of, making it worry-free if you have allergies. If like us, you’re travelling with children they’ll want to take their time over breakfast!
What to do
There are two seasonally-heated pools, both in the garden. The main pool has no deep end and is perfect for families – during the summer months there’s also a pool bar and restaurant. The adults-only pool is near the adult rooms and suites and does have a deep end – children 12 years and up are allowed. Just behind the pool is a pretty white building which is home to a selection of adult only rooms including 11 and 12 on the top floor. These two spacious rooms, next door to each other, are perfect for older families of 4 or a small group of friends after privacy and space. Book them both and you’ll have access to a wonderful shaded roof terrace with 360-degree views.
If you’re a keen tennis player, you might be a little disappointed. There’s one astroturf court and it’s not the best. Rackets and balls can be borrowed from the hotel.
The weather wasn’t great when we were there but we swam, played tennis and the gym is well-equipped so we found ourselves keeping up with our fitness routine! Had the weather been it’s usually sunny self we likely would have headed to one of the nearby beaches and taken a picnic to one of the islands in the National Park. Included in the price are some great experiences including a short hike to the neighbouring olive oil estate, a bread making course and yoga sessions.
Of course the Algarve, east or west, is a great place to come year-round for golfers as there are so many golf courses. The nearest one to Vila Monte is about 10 minutes away.
À Terra Restaurant is open from midday every day. The smell of the Josper Grill and the woodfired pizza oven will lure you in. The menu is really varied and includes a great selection of pizzas (we loved the Trufada), fresh fish of the day, spaghetti bolognese and steak to grilled octopus. There’s a kids menu that includes pizzas and chicken goujons.
Laranjal restaurant is only open in the evenings during the summer months. Serving fresh Mediterranean food, it specialises in seafood dishes. The terrace is large and the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink whilst watching the sunset.
António’s restaurant in Moncarapacho is just 5 minutes away by taxi. If we hadn’t been recommended this wonderful place, we would have walked or driven straight past it; the exterior couldn’t be more ordinary and unappealing. Once inside and through into the restaurant at the back you can see why this is such a favourite with the locals. The owners are welcoming and the food is simple and delicious. The house red was far too drinkable and we all ended up having a pudding, the cheesecake above getting everyone’s seal of approval.
When to go?
The temperate year-round climate makes the Algarve an easily accessible destination from the UK. Great for a week-long hot summer holiday or a short autumn break it ticks all of the boxes for all ages.
How to get there
There are direct flights to Faro from all major airports. Hire car is recommended.