Hotel Martinhal

Sagres, Portugal

Overview

Decadent designer hotel perched on a windswept corner of the lower Algarve, with gorgeous sea views and an endless beach

The Martinhal is like no other hotel on the Algarve. Forget golf, forget overdeveloped land and rammed beaches. This infinitely tasteful designer temple sits within the protected Costa Vicentina national park on the cliffy western rather than flat southern coast - in fact, on the very bottom left-hand corner of Portugal, sticking out into the Atlantic. The location is fabulously unspoilt, wild and rugged - a rather bold setting for such a stunning contemporary hotel. But it works: this is a magical combination of luxury and nature.

The hotel has 38 chic rooms, some in the main building, others in a cluster of private wood-clad blocks beside it, all with views of the impossibly blue ocean. Surrounding them are dozens of self-catering villas for 4-6, some with private pools (see our separate review). The resort has 2 excellent, super-stylish restaurants serving variations on Portuguese food, a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by teak decking and lime-green bean bags, and a small spa with sea-inspired treatments. All is cutting-edge contemporary in style, and the place is part-owned by the people behind the former Luxury Family Hotels group, the UK collection of smart country crash-pads for stressed yummy mummies. The same thoughtfulness, flair for design and eye for detail has been applied here, but in an authentic, thoroughly modern, Portuguese setting.

Guest Ratings

Room:
95%
Food:
78%
Service:
85%
Value:
80%
Overall:
84%

Hotel Martinhal: View all reviews

Highs

  • Couples seeking indulgence within a beautiful natural setting will love the hotel and its spa; and those with a child or baby will appreciate the free extra beds, cots and monitors
  • Active types will be in their element: hike through the national park; stroll along stunning coastline; windsurf and surf; try deep-sea fishing
  • The place feels special, untouched, out-of-the-way, yet it's only 1.5 hours from Faro
  • Gorgeous interiors - a mix of Portuguese materials (local Monchique stone, cork from nearby forests) and funky extras (iPod docks, Mongolian beanbags)
  • The fab local cuisine - cataplana, pasteis de nata - and impressive Portuguese-only wine list

Lows

  • The hotel is part of a resort, and there are dozens of villas sprinkled about. Stylish and low-rise though they are, it all feels a bit suburban (and not very i-escape), but the upside is a wealth of facilities, including tennis courts
  • The communal resort areas - including the hotel pool - are often rowdy with children
  • Service is mixed - staff are lovely, but often too laid-back, and perhaps insufficiently trained
  • Given the exposed location it can be very windy, so not ideal for beach sunbathing, and the surrounding land is bleak in places
Rooms

There are 38 rooms at Hotel Martinhal. The décor is sumptuous 1950s airport lounge, all muted shades, rounded edges and laminated woods. And the colour scheme is a dreamy, sea-friendly palette of turquoises and baby blues - from the carpets to the stripy woollen throws and cushions on the beds. There are lots of funky touches, including huge Mongolian beanbags on the floor, oversized cream wicker lamps and giant round wooden hooks on the walls. Every room has sea views of some sort (you pay a bit more for the best ones), and bathrooms are spoiling with walk-in showers (some have tubs too), Voya toiletries, and bathrobes for padding down to the pool.

Attention to detail is impressive: there are flip-flops in both Medium and Large; Nespresso coffee machines; well-priced and delicious snacks in the minibar (eg roasted fig and salted almonds) plus free soft drinks; and iPod docks and electric blinds. We were particularly impressed by the thorough demo from room service on arrival. The only downside is that rooms open out onto shared terraces, meaning that privacy can be compromised.

The interior design was crafted by British designer Michael Sodeau, who chose lots of Portuguese materials, including local Monchique stone for the coffee tables, wicker for the lamps - as used in baskets for grape harvesting - and tables and stools made of cork from nearby forests.

The rooms are in 2 locations: Terrace Rooms on the ground floor of the main hotel building, and Beach Rooms in their own separate wooden-clad clusters beside the hotel (4 per cluster). The 2 clusters nearest the cliff front contain a pair of top-of-the-range Beach Suites, each with super-private sun deck and split-level interiors that can connect to the adjacent Beach Room. We stayed in a Beach Room and loved being lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. Price-wise they are divided into partial- or full sea view; it's worht paying the small premium for full sea views, and (in our opinion) asking for the Beach Room location.

The resort is also home to dozens of self-catering villas, clustered round about the hotel.

Eating

The food at Martinhal is a real highlight. You can choose between 2 restaurants: the fine dining O Terraço, a smart venue with slinky cocktail bar on the first floor of the hotel, for which you really need to dress up and the more relaxed As Dunas, a stylish beach restaurant located beside the pool which specialises in fish and seafood. Villa guests (including children) are welcome at As Dunas.

O Terraço offers classic Portuguese dishes with a contemporary twist, that make the most of the bountiful local produce. Spanking fresh fish and seafood are not to be missed, from salty sardines - freshly caught and crisply grilled (nothing like John West!) - to cataplana, the Algarve’s fabled fish stew. The focus is on beautifully crafted complex dishes such as sea urchins neatly stuffed with scrambled eggs, and pork loin sautéed with clams and coriander. All is light but sophisticated; the six-course tasting menu comes recommended, and there's an impressive Portuguese-only wine list.

As Dunas is more laid-back, with food ranging from frothily light tomato gazpacho to simple ocean-fresh fish dishes. There's also a newer outdoor wine bar which serves Portuguese wines, beers and soft drinks in the early evening. This is also where you can get takeaway pizzas.

Breakfast at O Terraço includes delicious fresh fruit - mangoes, local oranges, the sweetest pineapple and cherries - as well as a selection of cold cuts and cheeses including a divine local black pork (like Serrano ham or Prosciutto only nuttier). Finish on a high with pasteis de nata, the extremely naughty, melt-in-the-mouth Portuguese custard tarts.

For a change of scene, try the new surf-style M Bar which serves breakfasts, afternoon teas, and light lunches (Sushi or Bento box). In the evening the bar is a-buzz with beach bums supping on ciders and cocktails. Suitable for the whole family, the bar has a 1970s VW camper van booth, a dedicated kids bar and a resident DJ.

Activities

  • Laze by the pool on the lime-green Fatboy beanbags or comfy loungers. There's a bar here, too

  • Indulge in some sea-based spa treatments at the Finisterra Spa. We loved the sound of bladderwrack body glows, organic coral wraps and smoothing sand scrubs

  • Active types can try the wind-related activities on offer in the bay, from windsurfing to bodyboarding, parasailing to blokarting (land yachting)

  • Stroll along the fabulously unspoilt Martinhal beach (from which the hotel gets its name) to the fishing port of Sagres. It takes around 15 minutes and there isn’t very much to see once there, but the walk is lovely

  • There are, apparently, 12 other beaches within a 15-minute drive

  • Challenge your fellow guests to a game of tennis (there are 2 artificial grass courts) or try the new Padel tennis, a mix between squash and lawn tennis, with plastic bats

  • Hire mountain bikes from the hotel and cycle to the really windy side of the point that faces due west, straight out at the Atlantic: totally exhilarating

  • The hotel can arrange deep-sea fishing, riding, jeep safaris, nature walks, gourmet picnics and scuba diving

  • And yes, you can play golf if you must; the Martinhal has preferential rates and tee-time deals with 5 local courses, the nearest of which is just 10 minutes away at Parque de Floresta

  • Go on a boat trip to see dolphins, but remember sea sickness tablets if you're not a good sailor – the ocean can get pretty choppy

  • Visit the ruins of Henry the Navigator's fort, the Cape Canaveral of the 15th century

Essentials
  • Dining: Two restaurants ranging from fine dining to simple seafood; cafe area beside the swimming pool; and 5 bars (including the kid-friendly M Bar). All of these are shared with the villas. 24-hour room service too
  • Internet Access: Free WiFi throughout the resort, from the rooms to the communal areas and even beside the pool
  • Swimming Pool: Heated outdoor pool with surrounding deck area
  • Spa Treatments: Fabulous sea-based spa treatments ranging from bladderwrack body glows to organic coral wraps and smoothing sand scrubs available at the small but perfectly formed 6-room Finisterra Spa
  • Recreational: 2-minute access down to the Martinhal beach via a path made of railway sleepers, plus 12 other beaches within 15 minutes’ drive. Martinhal is a great walking and jogging beach. Also available are surfing, scuba diving, windsurfing, riding, jeep safaris, nature walks, gourmet picnics and (at preferential rates) golf. The resort has 2 artifical grass tennis courts, mountain bikes for hire, fully-equipped gym plus two glass-sided Padel tennis courts (all of these are shared with the villa guests too).
  • Weddings and Celebrations: Not suitable
  • Meetings/Functions: Not suitable
  • Disabled Access: One adapted terrace room. All public areas including As Dunas and the Beach Club are wheelchair-accessible.
  • Pets: Not allowed
  • Languages Spoken: Portugese, English

Environmental Policy

The hotel uses heaps of solar energy, has a strict sustainable food philosophy using local ingredients, and has kept many of the wooded areas intact and is a commendably low-density development. Natural building materials (local timber, cane, stone and cork) were used to build the Beach Rooms.

Social Responsibility

Impressive social responsibility: the Martinhal has been a massive shot in the arm for the underdeveloped local area, providing 250 direct jobs (95% of the staff are Portuguese) and another 250 indirect jobs to suppliers and local shops and bars. It promotes the Sagres region, sponsors big beach clean-ups and even plans to help Sagres paint its church.

When to go?

September is probably the best month to go, given the soaringly uncomfortable temperatures in July and August (when the thermometer can hit over 40 degrees) and the rather off-putting wind which blows through the resort over the peak summer months. By September it is slightly cooler but still lovely, plus flights are far cheaper and it is less busy – and this place is all about escaping and being unbusy. There are gorgeous wild flowers in April, May and June too, when the temperatures are a pleasant low-mid 20s and there is usually little wind.

Author's tips

Book a Beach Room. These are supremely stylish private capsules, each with their own views of the ocean (it's worth paying the small supplement for the full sea view) and gorgeous teak-decked areas. And make sure you eat out at the Zavial, just around the coast. A plate of fresh sardines, a Sagres beer and a mound of chips overlooking the bay... heaven.

Features

  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Organic produce
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Garden
  • Terrace
  • Guest lounge
  • Internet access
  • WIFI internet
  • Outdoor pool
  • Heated Outdoor Pool
  • Spa treatment rooms
  • In room treatments available
  • sauna
  • Steam room
  • Tennis court
  • Gym
  • Bicycles available
  • Concierge service
  • Disabled access
  • Off street parking
  • Airport Transfers

Kids

The hotel welcomes children of all ages, and all extra beds and cots are free (including breakfast). You can book a pair of connecting rooms at reduced rates, or the Terrace rooms can fit an extra bed and a cot - which makes a very competitively-priced option for a couple with 1 child and/or 1 baby who don't need lots of space during their holiday. If you want more space (including a kitchen and living area), you might prefer to stay in one of the resort's villas instead, which are brilliantly kitted out for kids, and range up to 3 bedrooms. There's a wealth of child-friendly activities in Martinhal Village, where most of the villas are; these are open to hotel guests too, of course.

  • Best for: Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years)
  • Family friendly accommodation: Terrace rooms can take an extra bed and a cot.
  • Babysitting: English-speaking babysitters available, reserve 24 hours in advance, see (see Rates).
  • Baby equipment: Equipment is available to pre-book through the baby concierge.
    • Highchairs
    • Steriliser
    • Stair gates
    • Pram/pushchair to borrow
    • Children's backpack
    • Baby bedding
    • Potty
    • Bottle warmers
    • Socket protectors
    • Door protectors
    • Baby baths
  • Creche/Kid's Club: There's a fully-staffed creche plus various clubs for kids of all ages: the Creche (ages 6-24 months), the Kids' Club (2-4), Fox Club (5-8), Explorers Club (9-12) and Adventure Club (12-16). The last 3 are only open in school holidays, including half terms; and most are divided into 2 sessions, morning or afternoon - (see Rates for an idea of costs. There's also the Blue Room: a video-game room and playspace for children aged 8 and above. The new M Bar is great for kids and adults alike. Adults will love the chilled vibe, cider and live music, while the kids will be thrilled by the 1970s VW camper van booth, dedicated kids bar with games area, and the adjacent outdoor protected play area.
  • Children's meals: One of the resort's restaurants offer child-sized portions of dishes on their menus and have highchairs; and takeaway pizzas are available from the resort's wine bar. The shop sells takeaways too. The Family Bar at the Village Square is designed for families.
  • Kids Activities on site:
    • 4 swimming pools (all unfenced) including one with water toys
    • Children's cartoons/animated films in the Village Square in summer months
    • Children's playgrounds
    • Games consoles
    • Football academy
    • Tennis courts and kids' tennis academies
  • Kids Activities nearby:
    • Boat trips, particularly dolphin-watching safaris, will go down a treat
    • Enjoy the beach or learn to surf or windsurf
    • Mountain biking trails nearby would be fun for older kids
    • Older children can take part in the Junior Lifeguard Course
  • Families Should Know: There is a nurse on site 9am-6pm daily, and until 8pm in the summer months. The resort shop sells nappies and other baby items. There's a mobile phone signal everywhere in the resort.

Distances:

  • Airport: 1.5 hours
  • Medical treatment: on site
  • Nearest shop: on site
Location

Location
Hotel Martinhal overlooks Martinhal beach and a small collection of islands. It is just round the south side of the point at the most south-westerly tip of Portugal, in the western Algarve.

By Air
Faro is the closest airport, but Lisbon is reasonably convenient too. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport
Most guests hire a car - it's a 1.5-hour drive from Faro - but the hotel can arrange a transfer from Faro, see Rates.

By Car
See our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Portugal and getting around

Reviews

Press Reviews

AWARDS

Most Iconic Family Hotel, Junior Design Awards 2013

REVIEWS

Conde Nast Traveller (UK), April 2014
"This relative newcomer to the Algarve lays claim to a windswept, untouched spot on the western coast with empty, golden beaches, clear blue skies and waves to surf on. While other hotels in the area claim to cater for children when really their focus is on golf, few do so in the detail-driven manner that is the Martinhal way. Outside lie acres of sand and five different kids' clubs, age-graded from six months to 18 years, plus playgrounds with princess castles and climbing frames, a choice of heated swimming pools and a trampoline by the Beach Club Pool Bar to bounce on until a juicy hamburger arrives (while parents enjoy the freshest of oysters, the food really is the best in the area). There are Staller bikes on which to roman, tennis courts and football in the sports field, there are also tables and chairs and a nanny to play and draw with them."

The Sunday Times, January 2014
"The Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel is set behind Martinahl beach, in the Costa Vincentina National Park, and has rooms, houses and suites to fit families of all shapes and sizes. Mum and Dad will like the sleek interiors, spa and gourmet food; the children will love the kids' club and pool, playground, special menus, sheltered beach, shallow surf and abundance of beanbags even more."

Conde Nast Traveller (UK), August 2013
"The five-star Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel on the Algarve coast is surrounded by a protected national park and has been designed with families in mind - there are five swimming pools, three restaurants (self-catering is optional), tennis and sports centre, and a long list of activities: bike tours, horse-riding, boat trips, yoga.... The Kids Club caters for all ages from babies upwards; and the hotel's child-friendly policy extends to the Finisterra Spa."

Conde Nast Traveler (US), Hot List 2011
"Just outside the fishing port of Sagres, overlooking a rare golden sand beach that punctuates the rutilant cliffs of the Algarve region's western coast, Martinhal, which includes a 38-room hotel and rental villas, counters the mega-resorts that dominate this region. It's not easy to coin a look that's eye candy and cozy at the same time, but London-based designer Michael Sodeau pulls it off beautifully. Lively beach shack-style rooms have teak floors and are furnished with Italian Gervasoni rattan floor lamps, rounded modular oak pieces by London's Modus, and loads of kick-off-your-Louboutins details, like the knitted wool throw pillows on the green tub chairs and the French doors that open onto private balconies with sweeping ocean views. The resort has fabulous facilities, too, including an indoor-outdoor swimming pool overlooking the beach and three excellent restaurants (seafood, epicurean, and casual bistro with great wood-oven pizzas), in addition to well-trained staff."

Conde Nast Traveller (UK), March 2011
"Set on the unspoilt, south-westernmost tip of mainland Europe, Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel has truly spectacular views. It also has superb restaurants, four swimming pools, a fully equipped sports centre, and the Finisterra Spa for indulgent treatments. A sandy beach is a few steps away, and the historic town of Sagres just a few minutes' drive."

The Telegraph, July 2010
"Recycled materials and a low-rise design help the hotel buildings blend into the rugged landscape. Natural timber, local cane and stone and recycled cork, teamed with warm furnishings, lend Martinhal a "homespun contemporary" feel. Everywhere you look there is snooze-on-me furniture inviting you to do just that...

Although sheltered by Algarve standards, wind-whipped Martinhal Bay won't be everyone's cup of tea. Some of the newly planted foliage has yet to take hold, but a coastal path to the wild-flower-strewn headland is seconds away...

Lunch on the terrace at the chic As Dunas can slip languorously into cocktail hour. Line-caught fish, fleshy hoops of grilled squid, just-landed oysters and clams, and a peculiar delicacy called perceves, a goose-necked barnacle resembling dinosaur toes, were accompanied by a crisp Portuguese white."

Guest Reviews

Reviews are from people who have booked through us.

  • “Gorgeous property and super family friendly. Great views and amazing design. Lots of activities for kids. Service and facilities were fantastic. Food was a bit bland.”

    Yuleika, United States (06.07.14)
  • “The Martinhal is a splendid place to go with all family and friends.
    And my special comments about Sofia who, in my opinion is the best waiteress that I knew! Thank you very much and I will always use i-escape.com for future trips.”

    roberto , Brazil (26.08.13)
  • “Fantastic hotel with everything you could want from a holiday. Beautiful rooms and facilities. Nothing hasn't been thought of. Food delicious and breakfast sat on the terrace with a lovely view was perfect. It is a family hotel so something to be aware of if you don't have kids as can be noisy at times. Easy to get away from too though! Great location with loads of beautiful beaches nearby (you need a car). Zavial and the beach restaurant there was a highlight. Also ate in Sagres at Vila velha which was amazing. All in all a lovely relaxed break in beautiful surroundings.”

    Lisa, United Kingdom (28.04.13)
  • “The staff were all brilliant - couldn't have been better. We were a little disappointed with the villa when we arrived as they are (as you describe) quite suburban - and probably better in summer as a little stark and uncosy in winter. We ended up moving into adjoining sea view hotel rooms which were beautiful and perfect. The manager and everyone we dealt with were incredibly charming and helpful with everything. Children's club/care brilliant. Maybe we were lucky with the weather - but it was sunny every day, we were on the beach, swimming in the sea, t-shirts etc - brilliant place for New Year and nice that it wasn't crowded.
    Head up north on the coast - stunningly beautiful and unspoilt; lots of great beach restaurants.”

    georgia, United Kingdom (09.01.13)
  • “Wonderful resort for families with kids but their presence can be overwhelming during peak season for those couples who want a romantic break alone. Prices are steep (G&T €10 at the pool bar), staff young and polite but service sometimes not quite 5 star. The gym very disappointing - low end exercise machines and no rower. The beach is beautiful, close by and never crowded, but remember it is the Atlantic - probably no warmer than 12º in August. Offshore (northerly wind) guaranteed every day, and pretty strong after about 14.00 - so ideal conditions to either learn to windsurf (in the am) or sail really fast (in the pm). For lunches and evening meals beat the crowds and the kids by going to the beach restaurant - but make sure you choose the one furthest from the hotel - painted blue in Aug 2012, rather than the closest one (painted yellow) as the staff are much friendlier.”

    David, Spain (07.08.12)
  • “The hotel is fantastic with a beautiful view. The staff is very friendly and cheerful. It was very windy, so I would suggest going in September rather than July. The spa though was a little disappointing. It is over priced and the therapists aren't very good.”

    Ahmad, United Arab Emirates (28.07.12)