Conversas de Alpendre

Vila Nova de Cacela, Algarve, Portugal Book from Book from £134 per night

Perfect small hotel and an apartment for 2-4: masses of style and wonderful owners, 2km from idyllic Fábrica beach

One of my favourite hotels of all time, Conversas de Alpendre is a celebration of all things Portuguese. The peaceful gardens are full of gnarled cork and carob trees; the stunning furnishings are by local or Lisbon artisans — quirky rattan lampshades, rustic stools, woven art and traditional tiles; decor is fabulous throughout. Its restaurant dishes up regional recipes, including estupeta (tuna carpaccio), and octopus fresh from the ocean, and if you ask owner Marta what to do, she brims with local tips: beautiful beaches, quaint villages, meadows to explore on horseback.

It's also a celebration of family; Marta's late husband Tiago helped to create this sanctuary, which Marta now runs alongside her parents and small son Francisco, who plays in the grounds, charming everyone. But it's a family that you feel part of when you stay. While there's (thankfully) no enforced conviviality, guests naturally mingle and chat, a mix of couples and small families that somehow blends beautifully. Kids play together and adult friendships are formed over carafes of Algarve wine. A recent guest spent a fortnight here, then booked for 3 weeks next summer as he left. It didn't surprise us. Everything about this place is special.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • Extremely stylish rooms; we were blown away by the romantic Tree House, with its panoramic views out to sea
  • Utterly peaceful and relaxing. Even when the hotel's full, you can always find a quiet hammock or outdoor sofa to read on
  • Excellent prices yet a feeling of high quality runs throughout
  • Marta could not be more welcoming or kind. She treats you like family, even baking cakes to help yourself to
  • Just 2km from idyllic Fábrica beach; borrow bikes and cycle there

Lows

  • You'll need to book early - this is a popular property, with lots of repeat guests (the sign of a great hotel)
  • The saltwater pool is unheated
  • Dinner is not served on Sundays and Mondays. There's a set menu (though you can ask for an alternative). It may look expensive but the food is delicious

Best time to go

The hotel is open all year, bar January and February. We visited at the start of May and had fabulous sunshine, and mid-twenties temperatures; April is similar. June, July and August can get very hot but the grounds are very shady and all rooms have air-con. September and October are gorgeous, like spring, and with the advantage of the sea being warmer.

Our top tips

Go to Fábrica beach in the morning, and you'll be able to wade over to the island at low tide, past locals plucking shellfish straight from the lagoon. Once the tide turns, you can catch a taxi boat back.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Romantic
Eco
Foodie
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 12 rooms + 1 apartment (for 2-5)
  • Breakfast + dinners on request
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Nearly all the rooms are spread between the original old farmhouse and the modern extension (the conversion is so good we couldn't tell the difference). Decor throughout is fabulous, every detail hand-picked by Marta and her mother to celebrate Portuguese artisan style. Expect macrame lampshades, quirky mirrors and woven-reed wall hangings; whitewashed walls and the polished concrete floor allow every detail to shine. Beds have superb mattresses and are dressed in the finest linens; bathrooms are gorgeous with powerful 3-way jet showers and Castelbel toiletries.

On our first visit, we stayed in a ground-floor Superior Suite and loved how spacious it was, and how private it felt, despite leading onto the pool terrace. A pair of gorgeous Moroccan-style floor cushions won our hearts; our daughter was enchanted by a nightly turn-down service (bringing little treats and the next day's dinner menu), and by her enormous sofabed. Thick stone walls and a concrete ceiling kept the room cool and quiet; we all slept deeply, til 8am – quite the treat with a small child!

If you're here for a special occasion, book the show-stopping Tree House, perched high in a carob tree and almost completely concealed by leaves on one side. Panoramic windows wrap around the exposed sections, giving views over orange groves out to sea. Truly special.

On our latest visit, we got to peek at the recent additions: the Warehouse and the Cabin. The former is a cool loft-style room that works well for families (up to 5 people), with its suspended kingsize bed, a mezzanine floor with twin beds, and a tiny little baby room (with a door) for a toddler/baby. The Cabin is ideal for honeymooners or for a special romantic trip - we loved the secluded outdoor shower hanging in the carob tree. Both of these rooms have their own private plunge pools.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Hairdryer
  • Pool / beach towels
  • Safe box
  • Smart TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is a relaxed feast, served on the stunning outdoor terrace, where wispy wicker lights dangle over bamboo chairs and there's a hanging basket-chair, which kids adore. In keeping with the homely ethos, you can eat whenever you want. Orange juice is freshly squeezed, the pumpkin jam is homemade (superb) and eggs cooked to order are from a local farm, with incredibly orange yolks. You also get a little bag full of homemade breads and croissants, a plate of local cheeses and hams, and a vibrant, fresh-fruit platter - we had pomegranate and juicy mango one day; plump strawberries and kiwi another.

A snack menu is available for lunch (until 5pm), or beach picnics can be arranged - you get sandwiches, fresh fruit and juice, all neatly packaged up in a cool bag.

A chef comes in to do evening meals on request, 5 days a week (Tue-Sat). We dined in twice, and the food was excellent, inspired by regional specialities. The menu is set, though they are flexible on this if there's something you don't like, and the 3 courses include a couple of imaginative amuse-bouches: perhaps foie gras with pickled cabbage, and a squid cornet filled with fish mousse and caviar (divine), along with homemade bread and homegrown olives. The main dish of traditional octopus stew was tasty; a duck magret with raspberries the next night even better. Desserts included a divine creme caramel cake. Other guests raved to us about steak cooked in front of them on a hot stone, and a superb fish fillet marinated in fennel seeds.

For a change of scene, Marta will recommend excellent restaurants a short drive away, including Casa da Igreja for tapas (including just-caught oysters with chorizo). We enjoyed a laid-back pizza restaurant in Tarifa, too; ideal for families.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Do very little! We spent hours lazing by the pool, leaping in occasionally to cool off. There are hammocks and sofas in the garden for shady snoozes, and massages in a little hut at weekends
  • Nearby beaches are idyllic, part of the Rio Formosa Natural Park. We found Manta Rota easy with kids, but Fábrica is the stuff films are made of; white sands, blue waters, pretty shells to collect. Be aware it gets windy and there are no facilities there, bar a seasonal cafe with tiki loungers
  • Tavira is charming for a half day, all cobbled mazy streets and little shops. Wander up to the castle, eat an ice cream, stroll along the river with its Roman bridge
  • Alpendre has bikes to borrow or you can go horse riding through nearby meadows and along the coast
  • The tiny village of Cacela Velha has traditional blue and white houses, an 18thC fort, a peaceful cemetery, and killer views along the coast up to the Spanish border
  • Take time to admire the decor and curios around the hotel, every detail hand-picked: a driftwood lamp, rosemary sprigs in tiny glass vases, a low trestle table on wheels, jute rugs, cowhide chairs... it's Instagram heaven

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling

Kids

Small families are warmly welcomed, ideally 1-2 kids per booking to keep the ambiance peaceful. Marta has a young son (Francisco), and she was kindness itself to our 4-year-old daughter. Staying here as a family was relaxed and easy. In the evenings, we ate an early dinner all together, but you could easily put a younger child to bed then leave your window open and dine a deux on the terrace within earshot. The gardens are extensive and there's a saltwater pool with a shallow baby section.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The stand-alone loft-style Warehouse has a mezzanine floor for kids as well as its own private pool and large terrace. The Family Apartment has twin beds in its open-plan living area plus a sofabed for 1 extra guest, and a separate double bedroom. Parents will find its kitchenette useful. All rooms except the Tree House can fit a baby cot or have a very comfortable sofabed for 1 extra guest.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Saltwater pool
  • Play area with swings and a slide
  • Small football pitch
  • Basketball hoop
  • Bikes to borrow

Families Should Know:

The pool is unheated and unfenced; some rooms open onto its terrace. There are no bathtubs.

Distances:

  • Airport: 45-minute drive (Faro)
  • Shops: 5-minute drive
  • Hospital: 20-minute drive
Kid Friendly:

Location

The hotel is set in the small hamlet of Santa Rita in the eastern Algarve, 2km from Cacela Velha and Fábrica beach, 8km from Tavira and 45 minutes' drive from Faro airport. 

By Air:
Fly into Faro (50km) then hire a car. Airport transfers can also be arranged.

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

Airports:

  • Faro 50.0 km FAR

Other:

  • Beach 2.0 km
  • Shops 1.0 km
  • Restaurant 1.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 7 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

A wonderful place. So relaxed, staff could not be more helpful or friendly. Very welcoming to kids, a home away from home thanks to Marta and her staff. Nothing is too much trouble. A special place.

9/10,

Overall atmosphere and decoration / style was excellent and the family apartment suited us really well. The pool was heated which was perfect and they have built a new bar. The daily cake was delicious and cocktails were good.
There are a few things they could do to improve - such as occasionally taking drinks orders from round the pool, offering a smoothie / juice or the day for example, and the kitchenette on the apartment could be a bit better. They were very strict about not eating food around the pool or on your room terrace, which seemed odd and spoiled the laid back atmosphere. Overall lovely though and would go back.

9/10,

We just had the most wonderful week here, staying in the Treehouse which was much more spacious and elegant than we could have hoped for. Everything about this hotel is 5-star - from the beautiful grounds, the marvellous accommodation, gorgeous pool and delightful food but the most memorable feature is the warmth and sincerity of the staff who go to such pains to ensure their guests are happy and comfortable. We found it VERY hard to leave on our last day but determined to somehow return for another holiday soon. Thank you iescape for introducing us to this wonderful hotel. Truly unforgettable.

10/10,

This is a stunning hotel: a great location, a good base for exploring the area and only a few minutes from the astonishing Fabrica beach. Everything about Conversas de Alpendre is exquisite, from the unique design for each room, to the wonderful local produce, to the exceptional customer service, to the many little details which surprise and delight. A wonderful holiday, very strongly recommended. The owners’ new hotel in Tavira, Colegio Charm House, also looks stunning.

10/10,

Best hotel we’ve ever stayed at! Great atmosphere, beautiful styling. It’s a wonderful place to relax, we also enjoyed having a small private swimming pool, having rented the Cabin. We can wholeheartedly recommend this. We also really enjoyed the food, the chef also made great vegetarian and vegan options. It was the best vegan meal I’ve had at a restaurant. Chapeau!

10/10,

Excellent service. Amazing breakfast. Lovely people. Gorgeous place. Brilliantly clean and covid friendly. My only feedback would be to offer a more simple dinner option alongside the lovely set 3 course one. It was simply too much some evenings!

10/10,

{{ review.rating }}/10, {{ review.firstName }}Anonymous{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},

Rates for Conversas de Alpendre

Arriving on: