Farol Design Hotel

Cascais, Lisbon Coast, Portugal Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Super-cool design hotel with a terraced pool beyond which the ocean sparkles
Portugal’s hippest hotel delivers style and substance in equal measure: if you want a cool place to chill in the sun, you’ll find it here. You’re bang on the water with a terraced pool above the rocks and an excellent restaurant that opens onto a big shaded terrace. Views stretch for miles across the water to the Setubal Peninsula, while sailing boats and cargo ships zip in and out of Lisbon.

You get a little bit of time travel with the main house, a 19th-century mansion seamlessly united to a late-20th-century extension of glass, wood and steel. Sophisticated contemporary interiors are at every turn: voile drapes in a panelled bar, a wall of glass and ocean views in the dining room, a beautiful Art Deco mirror in reception. Stone floors give way to shiny boards, chrome spider lamps hang over groovy armchairs. Fashion designers were recruited to create the 33 rooms and suites and the results are satisfyingly hip: mirrored walls, vibrant colours, 6-foot lamps suspended from the ceiling, and modern art on the walls. The waves of the west coast are close by, so bring your surfboard. Alternatively take to the hills and discover Sintra’s fabulous palace.


  • Rooms are a treat - some fancy, some super-fancy
  • Fabulous setting on a rocky stretch of coast beyond Cascais lighthouse
  • The design is genuinely cool, not skin deep: rich purples and reds, cool white and sleek slate grey dominate in the elegant and urbane interiors
  • When we revisited in 2013, we found the food fantastic. There's a formal restaurant and a sushi bar - raspberry mojitos make a perfect aperitif
  • The pool with its sun-trapping terrace, padded loungers, white plastic sofa on the lawn, and a summer bar lapped by the ocean


  • The town’s fog horn is very close by; if the weather changes, you'll hear about it
  • Bathrooms are slightly dated
  • There can be noise from the adjacent nightclub on Thursday-Saturday nights
  • Some bedrooms are very self-conscious, as are some guests
  • The pool is only open late March-October

Best time to go

Cascais is busy and expensive in summer, especially at weekends. This is partly because of the Cascais Summer Festival (July-September), which offers nightly entertainment - music, dancing, fireworks - on the coastal path between Cascais and Estoril; and the Estoril Jazz Festival (July), a world-class draw which includes performances in Cascais' Palmela Auditorium. Another prime time is the Estoril motorbike Grand Prix, typically in May or September.

May and June are perhaps the best times, with sunny weather and fewer crowds; bear in mind that the sea is pretty chilly until mid-June. October is another good option - seas are warmer, though the chances of rain are slightly higher.

Our top tips

If you're coming for the nightlife and social scene, a long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) is perfect. If you're coming for the beautiful coast, watersports and a drop of stylish seclusion, then a midweek stay (Sunday-Thursday) is best.

Light sleepers should bring earplugs to blot out the sounds from the adjacent nightclub and the crashing waves.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Design Hotel
  • 33
  • Restaurant and bars (open daily)
  • 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
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Designer Room


There are standard rooms and designer rooms, shared between the estalagem (old building) and the new wing. We thought the standard rooms were great, so if you don’t need the best view, go for these. Sea View Doubles are more expensive, 3 of them with terraces; the rest have Garden Views, 4 with balconies. None are small, and all come in similar design: white walls, crisp cotton, colourful bedcovers, sleek furniture, and chrome lamps above the bed. You get satellite TVs, air-con, minibars and fluffy bathrobes. Black and white bathrooms are identical to those in the fancier rooms, with hydro-massage tubs - though they do feel slightly dated in comparison with the rooms.

Designer Rooms are nicely over-the-top and come with an overdose of colour. One (Manuel Alves & José Manuel Gonçalves) has an entire wall of padded yellow leather, another (Paulo Matos) has faux-leopard skin armchairs, and a third (Arkadius) is all black and gold. All but 2 have balconies, with French windows opening onto sun loungers, armchairs and long sea views. The fanciest of the lot (Miguel Vieira) comes in nothing but white - you can’t see where the floor ends and the walls begin. It's one of the 2 without a balcony, but it does have a huge window that slides open. There’s also a big plasma screen on one wall, white leather recliner chairs and a glass table supported by 2-foot high letters that spell AMOR.

A couple of the designer rooms are dubbed Suites; one (Ana Salazar) isn’t really a suite and doesn’t have a balcony, but it’s a fabulous room nonetheless. It has 2 walls of glass and seems to hang above the water. The second comes in ivory with curtains in the bedroom that open onto an enormous Jacuzzi bath - known as the Honeymoon Suite, this was designed by Cristina Santos Silva.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Breakfast is served until 10.30am on a fabulous deck with huge views out to sea. It’s an extensive affair, a cut above the rest - probably the best breakfast we ate in Portugal. It’s laid out in buffet-style and you help yourself to iced strawberry juice or freshly-squeezed OJ, huge platters of fruit, and pastries including delicious ham croissants. If that’s not enough, dig into bacon and eggs.

A selection of light bites is available in the On The Rocks bar all day - anything from toasted sandwiches to steak-frites. The restaurant, The Mix, is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Portions are elaborate but compact, in true fusion style, so it's nice to try a few. When we revisited in 2013 we had the following, all delicious: lamb and carrot tagine, cucumber tagliatelle with papaya mango and ginger; roasted goat’s cheese with rocket salad and lavender honey; sautéed sea bass with stewed vegetables in soy broth with clams, and wild berry garden with lemon and basil sorbet. Other tempting options included scallops with granny smith apple and beetroot reduction, foie gras with truffle purple onion and cinnamon chutney and roasted monkfish. Note there's generally a lack of vegetarian meals on offer.

If you want something different, try the sushi bar, open every day except Monday. The food looked fantastic and all feedback we've received is positive.

For the best food in town head down to Porto Santa Maria. If you need something simple, you’ll find good traditional Portuguese cooking or a pizza in town. Head west along the coast road to a string of great seafood restaurants (with sea views too), the best of which is Mar du Inferno. Staff will advise.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Sushi bar
Eating: Suite


  • The town of Cascais is on your doorstep: a bustling jet-set resort with an old fishing village (car-free in summer) at its heart. There's a contemporary art collection, a daily fish market, plenty of pretty churches and houses, a Wednesday fair and even a Sunday bullfight if that's your thing. Next door to the hotel is a park with a mansion-museum and the Cultural Centre; just beyond is the marina where you can jet ski, scuba dive, fish, parasail, windsurf, surf and kite-surf
  • Cabo de Raco, the most westerly point of mainland Europe, is 5km west. A great cycle path follows the coast and bikes are available to hire from the hotel
  • Head north for beach after beach. And lots of surfers. The hotel at Praia Grande has a fantastic pool above the sea; non-residents can pay a small fee to use it. The beaches of Cascais are also excellent (this is Lisbon’s summer playground) and you can hire loungers and parasols on most
  • Head to spectacular Sintra for the Pena Palace, a fantasy castle built around a 15th-century convent. It somehow manages to balance on top of the hill in its multi-coloured glory
  • The Sintra Mountains are rugged, wild and wonderful, with fabulous walking through untrodden landscapes (watch out for wild boar). You can ride up here too, or take a jeep safari, or go mountain biking
  • Go to Estoril for golf, palaces, a casino, and tennis at the Club de Tenis do Estoril (4km from Farol; the front desk can book courts). The motorbike Grand Prix takes place in Estoril in September or October
  • Treat yourself to a Luxury Experience. The hotel works with a local company who can arrange anything from a luxury picnic to hiring a Porsche for the day, with driver or without; enquire at reception
  • Trains into Lisbon take 30 minutes. The station is in the centre of town

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Windsurfing


Children are welcome and cots, extra beds and babysitting are available on request. Older kids will love the range of water sports close to hand, as well as the plethora of activities hereabout; but younger kids may be a liability on the rough rocky shore. Remember this is a design hotel, and noisy kids are not part of the concept!

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available


Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

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