Areias do Seixo

Povoa de Penafirme, Lisbon Coast, Portugal Book from Eur265

Reviewed by Daisy Gell
The apotheosis of eco chic: a stunning hotel just 35 minutes from Lisbon, plus self-catering villas and townhouses (sleeping 2-7)
Upmarket eco design has been around for a while, but Areias do Seixo blows everything we’ve seen out of the water. Just months after opening, this small hotel on Portugal’s west coast made it on to Conde Nast Traveler (US)’s 2011 Hot List - and it's easy to see why.

The 14 romantic rooms are blindingly unique, taking the colours and designs of India and Morocco as a starting point, and blending them with modern minimalism and imagination to create beautiful colour schemes, extraordinary mod cons and irresistible bathrooms. There are beds framed with driftwood; warm gold Chinese cabinets; pod-like woodburners suspended from the ceilings, and burnished silver lamps. For those wanting more space and privacy, there are self-catering 3-bedroom villas and townhouses.

There's a restaurant and bar featuring the hotel's organic produce, a decked path leading to sand dunes and the Atlantic, an Ayurvedic spa and an outdoor pool. And when you arrive, you're warmly greeted with fresh lemongrass tea (from the garden, naturally) and homemade cake. How better to begin your stay in one of Europe’s most original hotels?

Highs

  • The décor is sensational, with rich colours and textures, and stunning ultra-modern fixtures and fittings
  • Eco concerns are high on the agenda, with energy monitoring, eco schemes, photovoltaic solar panels, recycling, composting and more
  • Nature pervades everything - the wood and pebbles in the interior design, the pine trees and sand dunes beyond - and gives a sense of calm
  • The relaxed but attentive service put us at ease straight away
  • The location is quiet and unspoilt, but you're within easy reach of Obidos and Lisbon if you need a city fix

Lows

  • You'll need to hire a car to get here, or take a taxi/transfer from Lisbon, plus this is a quiet part of Portugal without the many attractions of, say, the south coast
  • The hotel is the destination, which is another way of saying that there isn't much to do in the neighbourhood - you'd need to drive if you wanted a change of scene, restaurant wise
  • We have serious trouble pronouncing the hotel's name. How about you?
  • A 2-night minimum stay in the villas and townhouse at all times, plus at weekends in the rooms
  • Since our last visit, rooms have been rejigged and some new offerings have been added (Townhouse Green and Villa Blue), but we've heard good things

Best time to go

The Costa da Prata is a good year-round destination. March and April are lovely, May and June are ideal, July and August can be very hot and it's warm through to September for swimming in the sea. Thanks to the hotel's woodburning stoves, you'll be snug here in winter, too

Our top tips

Don't miss Peniche, a walled fishing town 30 minutes away with fantastic seafood restaurants and a 16th-century fortress overlooking the Atlantic.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Eco Hotel
  • 14 rooms + 6 villas + 2 townhouses
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • 10+ year olds in the hotel; all ages in the villas / townhouses
  • Closed: 6 Nov 2016 - 25 Dec 2016
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
  • Food and eco experiences
Room: Nha Cretcheu

Rooms

All of the rooms, villas and townhouses are strikingly different and original, blending the best of modern Scandinavian-inspired minimalism with Indian and Moroccan styles. All have private patios or decks, bathrobes, toiletries, WiFi, wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, and geothermal heating/cooling systems; if you want a TV you have to request it.

Of the hotel rooms, 4 are large Love Rooms (Oxalá, Ouro, Nha Cretcheu and Mi Ma Bô), 5 are smaller Gold Rooms (Prata, Três Desejos, Que Voa - which is wheelchair accessible, Sete Sentidos and Ainda), 4 similarly sized Tree Rooms (Terra, Sem Hora Marcada, Olveira Princesa and Mar), and 1 huge Land Room (Jasmim). Most of the rooms have Jacuzzis or tubs, and some can be set up as twins.

All are stunning and original in design. As a flavour, Love Room Nha Cretcheu has an insanely beautiful bath with glass lanterns suspended like tears. Its bedroom is warmly decorated with a driftwood-framed bed, pure white linen, glittery silver lampshades and an air of refined luxury. Our favourite is the appropriately named Love Room Oxalá ('If only'); it's vast, with a Jacuzzi, a double shower, a mezzanine, and a large terrace framed by the deep blue of the Atlantic.

The other rooms are just as lavish, with rich fabrics, bright colours, chaise longues, polished concrete and show-stopping lights. We stayed in Gold Room Três Desejos with clean, minimal lines and a pale lemon, cream and grey colour pallette. There was a huge suspended woodburner, an antique gilded armchair, and floor-to-ceiling windows opening to a small deck with a table, a lawn and storm lanterns.

The Villas Green each have 2 double bedrooms and a twin room, all ensuite, along with a living room with a suspended fireplace, a full kitchen, a barbecue, and a private swimming pool. There’s an outdoor eating area on a private terrace, soft sofas in the lounge, and floor-to-ceiling windows letting in light all around. Kitchens are funky with blackboard paint on the walls and a full range of equipment. Similar in design, size and layout are, the Villas Blue and Townhouses Green, though we're yet to personally view these spaces.

Features include:

  • Barbecue in villas
  • Bathrobes
  • Cinema room
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Geothermal heating/cooling
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The hotel's restaurant, Lugar da Horta, is open for lunch and dinner, and serves a selection of Portuguese-inspired dishes using its wood-fired oven and charcoal grill. There are also a vegetarian choices, and all menus change on a daily basis according to what is available and fresh; there are a few options every day and everything we ate was delicious. Breakfast is served as a buffet and includes fresh fruit, regional produce and homemade cakes.

The hotel also has a café-bar, open from 1pm-1am, where you can order tea, homemade sweets, appetisers and snacks, and room service is on offer to all rooms, villas and the townhouse.

Much of the food comes direct from the hotel's organic garden; keen foodies can enrol on a morning 'plot to plate' experience where you work with the gardeners and chef to make your own lunch; they are also keen to share advice and inspiration about agriculture, fishing and cooking in the region.

As well as the bar and restaurant, there is a grocery store on site selling vegetables from the farm, tea, olive oil, wine and artisan products. The self-catering villas and townhouses have full kitchens with coffee- and tea-making facilities, fridge-freezers, hobs, ovens and microwaves. You can also book a chef or opt into a meal delivery service from the restaurant.

If you want a change of scene, you'll need to drive out. There are various recommended restaurants nearby, including Canastra, Furnas and Mar à Vista for seafood, Sabores de Itália for Italian, and Mae D’Agua for international cuisine.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Cooking classes
  • Farm shop
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Meal delivery service (villas and townhouse only)
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax in the hotel, walk on the beach, swim in the sea, eat in the restaurant, watch a film in the theatre room then take a glass of wine out to the fire circle and watch the stars in the inky sky
  • Swim in the spa pool, then unwind in the sauna and Turkish bath - access is free. Or book a massage and pamper ritual at the spa. It specialises in Ayurvedic treatments and also does massages, facials and body treatments, as well as half-day programmes
  • Borrow the hotel's bikes and explore independently
  • Book one of the hotel's experiences. We like the look of 'Your hands in the sea', a fishing/mussel harvesting morning after which you cook your own lunch, as well as the 'plot to plate' experience working in the organic garden and kitchen. You can also do farm, spa, eco and compost experiences (most are charged extra)
  • Plant a tree. The hotel's focus on eco-responsibility means it encourages its guests to participate too, for free
  • Spend an afternoon or evening in Lisbon. Portugal's capital is only half an hour away by car; explore the Design Museum and Gulbenkian modern art galleries, then stop for an espresso and a custard tart. Nightlife doesn't get going until gone 10pm in the city
  • Spend an afternoon in the well-preserved walled medieval town of Obidos, 25 minutes away, with its winding streets and whitewashed houses
  • Play golf at 1 of the 3 courses nearby: Praia D'El Rey, Bom Sucesso or Campo Real

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Eco-discovery days: tree planting, introduction to composting, 'plot to plate' cooking experience
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Star gazing
  • Swimming

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome in the villas and townhouses, plus being so close to the dunes and beach makes the setting great fun for all.

Note that the hotel and main pool is only open to children aged 10 years and over; the spa facilities are only open to guests aged 16+.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Each of the spacious villas and townhouses have 3 bedrooms and a full kitchen, as well as a living area, outdoor space and a swimming pool (unfenced).

Kids Activities on site:

  • Bikes to borrow
  • Classes, such as travel writing and baking, can be arranged

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Dunes and beach
  • Mountain biking
  • Watersports

Families Should Know:

The spa facilities are only open to those aged 16 and over, while the hotel pool is only available for guests over the age of 10.

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
7/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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