Colegio Charm House

Tavira, Algarve, Portugal Book from Book from £129 per night

Fabulously stylish rooms in a former palace in old Tavira, close to the golden beaches of the Algarve’s Ria Formosa

Tavira is one of the Algarve’s most beguiling towns. A left-bank kind of place, oozing history, it’s a warren of cobbled alleys, piazzas and leafy avenues, tiles, colour-washed houses and faded grandeur, set on the banks of the River Gilao. Beyond, are the mudflats, lagoons and island beaches of the Ria Formosa. This charming hotel adds yet another reason to visit; a good excuse to stay longer.

Close to the river’s Ponta Romano, the building dates from the 18th century when a retired cook from the Royal Court built himself a fancy palace on land gifted to him by the King of Portugal. The mansion has since served time as a Catholic school for boys, then a college, but it had been left empty and neglected for over 30 years when Cristina and José (owners of Conversas de Alpendre) took it on, transformed it into a dazzling white villa and created 20 gorgeous rooms, all tastefully furnished with collections of beautiful and unusual things. They added a decked pool terrace, a bar and restaurant (dine inside or out). The food? We think the royal chef would approve.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • Fabulous rooms: design suites, romantic pool suites, huge mezzanine suites – we loved them all
  • Perfect for a car-free holiday: trains from Tavira’s station serve most of the towns and beaches on the Algarve coast
  • A home-from-home atmosphere created by caring owners and exceptionally kind and welcoming staff
  • Ah, the beaches. The Ria Formosa’s Natural Park is fringed with long glorious stretches of pristine sand – among the best in the Algarve – right on the doorstep and rarely crowded

Lows

  • There is a bus station right opposite and a fair amount of passing traffic but any street noise tends to die down at night
  • The small private pools are unheated (the main one is)
  • The hotel doesn't serve dinner on Sundays or Mondays, but there are numerous restaurants within walking distance

Best time to go

The best months to visit the eastern Algarve are April-May (for spring flowers, orange blossom and early sunshine) and September-October (for balmy late summer temperatures and warm seas). July and August can be uncomfortably hot and crowded (although all the rooms have air con). Winters can get chilly, especially at night, but the sun still shines most of the time and Tavira pushes the boat out with Christmas decorations.

Our top tips

Ditch the car and take the train. The Algarve's rail network covers most of the towns and beaches along the coast. Travelling east from Tavira, takes you to Vila Real de Santo Antonio right on the Spanish border (30 minutes), or west to Olhao (25 minutes).

Great for...

Beach
City Style
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 19 rooms
  • Restaurant (closed Mondays), other restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: end December - mid January
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Laundry service
  • Electric car charger
Room:

Rooms

There are no standard rooms here: each one (there are 20) is beautifully and individually designed, brimming with personality and playful details. The décor is a mix of contemporary, ethnic and antique furnishings, tactile Portuguese textiles, art and curious artefacts (a native-American headdress, a tailor’s dummy, retired musical instruments, an ornamental crown), gilded mirrors and glittery chandeliers. Colours range from pale Atlantic blues, soft greens and earthy neutrals to tangerine, black and Moorish terracotta.

The rooms on the Patio das Laranjeiras (the Orange Patio) open onto decks, lawns and a shared pool. There are striking Design Suites; a four-person Family Suite (a double, a bunk room and a hot tub on a private terrace); a sumptuous Royal Suite with generous living space under a bed deck set beneath a high canopied ceiling. Three rooms have their own private plunge pools. Two others occupy a converted chapel. Most have balconies or access to a terrace.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

With an emphasis on sustainable, seasonal produce sourced from the region’s artisan suppliers, the food here is a treat. Start the day with a breakfast of home-made pastries, granola and jams, fresh fruit and juices, Tavira honey, Algarve cheeses and eggs or pancakes cooked to order (there is no time limit, so roll out of bed whenever you feel like it).

The restaurant is open for snacks and light lunches (salads, bruschettas, seafood plates or burgers) until 1800. The hotel’s signature ‘Surprise Dinner’: a three-course set meal with no menu – is available five nights a week (closed Sundays and Mondays). You can choose a preference for meat, seafood, vegan or vegetarian but otherwise it’s a case of wait and see – expect regional specials like octopus stew, tasty amuse-bouches and local wines accompanied by light jazz and candlelight. There is a terrace bar with a view – overlooking the old town – perfect for star-gazing and sundowners.

If you'd like to eat out one night, A Ver Tavira, Artefacto, D’Gusta, A Mesa and Brisa do Rio all in Tavira are recommended. A little further away there are a couple of 1 Michelin-starred restaurants, Noelia and Vistas.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hang out: by the pool, on the terrace, in your room… this is the perfect place to unwind
  • Head for the beach: Take a ferry or a water taxi to the magnificently sandy beaches of the Ria Formosa Natural Park (18 kilometres in all). The closest are Tavira’s island beaches at Praia dos Tesos, or Praia da Terra Estreita, but Cabanas, Baril and Fabrica are also close by
  • Explore Tavira: a warren of streets, pavement cafes, bridges, riverside walks, tuna boats on the old harbour, craft shops, churches, a castle and a camera obscura are just some of its attractions
  • Do a day trip: Olhao (28km), Faro (36km) or the Spanish border town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio (36km) are among the gems of the eastern Algarve
  • Hire a bike: explore the town or venture further afield by joining a section of the Ecovia cycle trail through the Ria Formosa Natural Park (the hotel can help arrange bike rental through a local company)

Kids

Families are welcome although it’s not the best place for small children (decks, steps, chandeliers and not much in the way of garden or space to run around in). There's a heated swimming pool, and a quirky games room is a good place to keep older kids happy on a rainy (or very hot) day. Cots can be provided, the restaurant offers a kids’ menu and there’s a babysitting service on request. There is an accommodation supplement for extra beds.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

There are two spacious suites designed for families: one colourful double with a conjoined bunk room (and a hot tub on a terrace), or a split-level royal suite with a double below and two singles on an upper deck (sleeps up to five, plus baby). Three split-level Mezzanine suites also have two extra beds. Others have enough space for cots.

Children's meals:

Kids menu available with the usual fare including pasta, burgers and chicken

Kids Activities on site:

  • Heated swimming pool
  • Games room with chequers and chess boards

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Boat tours
  • Kite surfing
  • Kids parks
  • Various sports
  • Take a boat to Tavira Island for a great choice of beaches for families; nearer beaches (by car) include Manta Rota and Praia Verde

Families Should Know:

The white décor and a romantic ambiance in many of the rooms is not ideal for lively kids.

Distances:

  • Airport: 35 minutes
  • Hospital: 32 minutes
  • Shops: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Colegio Charm House is in the heart of old Tavira in the Eastern Algarve, close to the river, the Ponte Romano, shops, restaurants and local beaches.

By Air:
Fly into Faro. Airport transfers are available, or you could hire a car – see our rental recommendations.

By Train:
There is a regular rail service between Faro and Tavira, and a network that provides links from Tavira to other towns and seaside villages on the Algarve. Check out the brilliant Seat 61 if you’re planning a railway adventure.

Getting Around:
With a handy station on the doorstep, it’s easy to get around without a car. Free bikes are available at the hotel.

Detailed directions will be provided when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Faro Airport 45.0 km FAO

Other:

  • Beach 4.0 km
  • Shops 0.1 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

The website review understates how excellent this place is. Very stylish and lovely staff. Although it doesn’t have a restaurant you can book dinner most evenings, with a choice of meat/fish/ vegetarian for the main course. Highly recommended at 40 euros exc wine. The excellent breakfast gives an indication of how good dinner is. Otherwise ask the hotel to recommend and book restaurants for you. Christina and Sonia came up with excellent choices. We would certainly go back and would opt for a suite rather than the double room we had

10/10,

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