Convento

Olhao, Algarve, Portugal Book from Book from £86 per night

A historic townhouse with a Moroccan riad feel, near the eastern Algarve's stunning island beaches

Hidden down a narrow street between a fishmonger and a buzzy restaurant lies a white door in a stone archway, which opens into one of Marrakech’s most stylish riads... Well, not really, but the internal courtyard - with its hand-painted blue tiles, graceful white columns and grand wooden doors - had us fooled. And as we climbed up spiral stairs to a split-level roof terrace, we were delighted by the views across the town's whitewashed roofs to the Ria Formosa Natural Park, where fishing boats bob on the waves and the bright sunshine is almost dazzling.

Once a weekday home for rural girls working in Olhão's fish-canning industry, the townhouse was saved from ruin by 2 architects, a historian and a teacher, who remodelled it into this airy, peaceful haven (no under 13s allowed). They carefully preserved and exposed original brickwork, turned former dormitories into 9 romantic bedrooms, and adorned communal spaces with local art and antiques from nearby Fuseta. We loved the sheer style of it all.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • Fantastic value, and rates include a great breakfast
  • The rooftop terrace: a perfect spot for a lazy morning, an afternoon dip in the pool, or a sundowner
  • Olhão is only 20 mins from Faro airport, yet it's an authentic fishing town with cobbled streets and simple restaurants serving charcoal-grilled sardines and jarros of wine; ideal for a car-free holiday
  • You’re a taxi-boat ride from some of our favourite Portuguese beaches, in the Ria Formosa
  • Managers Guillaume and Antje are incredibly welcoming

Lows

  • Multi-level with steep spiral stairs - the rooftop cabins are only suitable if travelling with hand luggage only
  • No TVs, air con or music docks (though there is WiFi)
  • It can be difficult to park, but you don't really need a car here

Best time to go

This area of Portugal is great year-round, but we’d recommend April-October when warm weather is almost guaranteed. That said, we’ve visited in February and November and experienced sunny, dry days. Temperatures can soar in July and August, but the cool Atlantic acts as a welcome respite. Convento is closed in the winter months.

Our top tips

Take a day trip to Spain. Drive along the coastal road to Vila Real de Santo António and jump on the small ferry, which takes you across the Rio Guadiana. Just 5 minutes later, you’ll find yourself in Ayamonte, a pretty Spanish town filled with tapas restaurants. Just remember that Ayamonte is an hour ahead of Vila Real de Santo António, and most restaurants in Spain shut at 4pm; we’ve been caught out before!

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Romantic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9 rooms
  • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
  • Ages 13+ only
  • Closed: mid Nov-mid March
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The 9 rooms and suites fan out around the tranquil courtyard, with its tinkling fountain and colourful bougainvillea. All are chic white spaces with gilded mirrors and lamps, handwoven rugs, local antiques and mismatched chairs. Bathrooms have huge walk-in rain showers, with heated marble underfoot. Be aware that only shower gel and handwash are provided so bring toiletries.

We stayed in one of the first-floor Suites, accessed via huge sliding glass doors that allow light to flood in. These were our favourite rooms as they felt very private. The Rooftop Cabins are beautifully designed and romantic; one has a private terrace, the other opens directly onto the communal rooftop. The Double and Large Double rooms felt airy and spacious, and have their beds tucked under an elegant arch.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is a delight, prepared each morning by Antje and served at a long table in the art-filled breakfast room. Each guest is brought a daily-changing delicacy (we had local cheeses and meats one day; an omelette the next), as well as fresh fruit (papaya, raspberries, kiwi and grapefruit) and Portuguese bread and cakes (including the traditional pastel de nata). If you have any dietary requirements, just let Antje know.

For lunch and dinner, there are some excellent restaurants nearby. Our favourite is family-run O Galo, which serves delectable dishes such as fishcakes with fried sweet potato, as well as a range of tapas. Or there's Chá Chá Chá, a quirky local joint with fresh, locally sourced fare, gluten-free desserts and vegetarian options. For rustic and traditional Portuguese food (grilled fish and meat), try Pitéu along the seafront, deservedly popular with locals.

Before you head out, grab a drink from Convento's honesty bar and pop up to the roof terrace, to make the most of the last of the evening sun. The views of the islands (with swifts and storks flying past) is really special.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore Olhão’s pretty cobbled streets, harbour and smart red-brick market. There's a daily spread of veg, fruit and fish, plus a farmers' market on Saturdays with budgies and bunnies, baked goods and pottery
  • Get a ferry or taxi boat to island beaches. Our favourites are Ilha da Culatra and Ilha Deserta, though all offer stunning stretches of golden sand; the journey takes you through the Ria Formosa’s lagoons. Further afield, and equally lovely, are the beaches of Fuseta, Barrill and Santa Luzia
  • Fuseta's antiques market is a must
  • Day-trip to Tavira and admire its hilltop castle, Roman bridge and wonderful collection of Gothic and Renaissance churches. There are pretty boutiques, too, which we never leave empty-handed!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

Kids

Children aged 13 and over are welcome at Convento, but there are no extra beds so they'll need their own room.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Convento is in the centre of Olhão, a small fishing town in the eastern Algarve, 20 minutes from Faro airport.

By Air:
Faro airport is the closest (15km) but you could fly into Seville (in Spain, 200km) or Lisbon (300km) if you don't mind a longer drive.

Take a taxi or hire a car from the airport; see our rental recommendations. You'll need to park on the street in Olhão.

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

Airports:

  • Faro 15.0 km FAR
  • Seville 200.0 km SEV

Other:

  • Beach 1.0 km
  • Shops 0.1 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 25 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

The hotel, conveniently located metres from the seafront and restaurants, is a real gem. The interior tiled courtyard is stunning. The rooms are comfortable. The breakfasts are fabulous, with an amazing selection of fruit and a different freshly baked cake or pastry every day.

10/10,

Fantastic hidden treasure of the Algarve - tucked away in the prettiest fishing town I've ever seen. The ambience is magic; peaceful and relaxed, a bright and beautiful space, and the warmest, friendliest hosts you could ask for. It feels like you're staying in a friends place....I cannot wait to come back! Obrigado Guillame Antje and team

10/10,

Absolutely perfect in every way - a beautiful building, calm and peaceful, lovely roof terraces for relaxing or having early evening drinks, a pool just big enough for a cooling dip. Our hosts Guillame, Antje and the team were extremely welcoming and helpful and the breakfasts were superb. We loved eating at the long table and chatting with the other guests. The location was ideal for wandering around the narrow cobbled streets, visiting the amazing fish market and catching the ferries to the nearby islands with deserted beaches. There are plenty of great restaurants in Olhao, all within easy walking distance. We are looking forward to returning!

10/10,

We had a wonderful stay - Guillaume, Antje and Faith were lovely, helpful hosts. Impossible to feel stressed at Convento - a haven of calm and tranquility and Olhao is a real find. The roof garden was exceptional and made a real difference. We have just booked in again for 2023!

10/10,

Convento is a wonderfully peaceful spot and the perfect holiday escape.
Beautiful rooms, courtyard and the rooftop with the pool and view of the harbour/islands makes it a lovely place.
Breakfast was a real treat - local Portuguese cheeses, meats, fruit and a different cake each morning.
Thank you! We loved our stay - if only we could've stayed longer.

10/10,

Convento is a completely wonderful little gem and I am so happy we found it on i-escape! A very unassuming front door opens up to the most stunning interior, with a beautiful open courtyard. Our room was spotless, extremely comfortable (amazing shower and huge bathroom with 2 basins). Guillaume, Antje and his team went above and beyond to make our trip easy and stressfree. They helped with taxi bookings, bicycle hire and much more. The breakfast was superb every day - absolutely enormous and different each day. The omelette was truly delicious! The roof terrace with all of its little mini terraces is so special and perfect for an evening drink, or sunbathing by the pool. Convento is brilliantly located - minutes walk from great restaurants and the ferry terminal. We just adored everything and we will be back!

10/10,

Fantastic place. A hidden gem! We will be going back!

10/10,

Simply Perfect! Convento is certainly a house I would love to revisit! The Team made my stay extremely easy and relaxing!

10/10,

A truly beautiful place to stay, with the most warm and welcoming hosts. We loved it. Everything was perfect, apart from the weather, but sadly even super efficient Guillaume could not control that! The narrow streets of Olhao are delightful to explore and we had some great meals in the nearby restaurants of Cha Cha Cha and A Do Fernando. We very much hope to return.

10/10,

Convento was simply perfect. A beautiful building, blissfully quiet, with lovely rooms and a gorgeous roof terrace on which to sunbathe. Service was friendly and helpful in all the best ways. Breakfasts were delicious. A wonderful place

10/10,

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