Fazenda Nova Country House

near Tavira, Algarve, Portugal Book from Eur189

Reviewed by Fiona Flores Watson
A stunning farmhouse renovation near beautiful beaches, with rustic-chic décor and fabulous food
Surrounded by 10 hectares of almond, pomegranate and olive orchards, Fazenda Nova is the realised dream of ex-Londoners Hallie and Tim Robinson, who have holidayed here for years. There are just 10 bedrooms so it feels friendly and relaxed, but it's ultra stylish with plenty of pampering touches; magazine worthy. Walk into the smooth dove-grey interior and the effect is instantly soothing after the dazzling Portuguese sun. Balinese teak furniture sits alongside design classics like Eames chairs, and exotic objects that Hallie and Tim collected on their travels add an eclectic vibe (a South African feathered headdress; painted Moroccan doors).

In the restaurant, which has a shady outdoor terrace, you can expect delicious flavours, super-fresh fish and homegrown produce (carob, figs, salad leaves plus their own olive oil). Relaxing gardens wind around gently blowing grasses, aromatic herbs and exotic wild flowers; a saltwater pool looks over the olive orchards. You'll struggle to leave.

Highs

  • Gorgeous rooms with private swathes of garden and hanging pod seats
  • A get-away-from-it-all, chilled-out atmosphere and a relaxed 25-minute drive from Faro airport
  • Endlessly knowledgeable and very friendly owners, who live on site: Hallie is an expert on the local markets and nearby islands; Tim is the building and garden guru
  • Perfect for couples or families with older kids and the 2 are kept separate; children over 6 are only allowed during Family Weeks (school holidays)
  • Impressive eco credentials (solar-heated water; own borehole; reused stone and brick; reed beds for filtering grey water)

Lows

  • The restaurant is closed on Saturdays. It is also closed on Wednesdays during the months of Feb, March, Oct & Nov (excluding Easter).
  • You need transport to get to the beach, other restaurants and to nearby towns such as Tavira. We strongly recommend hiring a car, but taxis can be arranged
  • Bedrooms in the 2 Apartments are small, but you get a sitting room, too

Best time to go

The best months are April and May (for spring flowers and warm temperatures), and September and October, when it’s still hot and sunny by day, and mild at night. July and August can be uncomfortably hot. Winter months are cold at night, and the wind can be chilly, although the sun still shines most days.

Our top tips

  • Check the blackboard in the hall for daily suggestions of what to do in the area - Hallie and Tim delight in suggesting where to go and what to buy, without being pushy
  • Take a book to a quiet, secluded spot in the garden - a chair under olive trees looking out over the orchards, a wooden shelter by the herb garden, or a bench in a shady corner
  • Don’t miss the coastal town of Fuseta, with its boho vibe - there’s a monthly flea market and live music on a Wednesday night
  • Great for...

    Eco
    Foodie
    Great Outdoors
    Honeymoon
    Wedding
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 10
    • Restaurant & bar (open 5-6 nights a week, depending on season)
    • Children over 6 welcome during Family Weeks
    • Closed: 10 Nov 2015 - 29 Feb 2016...
    • 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

    Minimalist but homely with old wooden trunks (which came with the farmhouse) and seagrass mats on warm orange brick floors, the rooms epitomise rustic-chic. Expect low-key but high-end; we adored our chunky Balinese bed with Hypnos mattress and soft Belgian linen, under a carved wooden headboard. Bathrooms feel decadent, too: enormous glass-walled showers have state-of-the-art Hansgrohe showerheads, pampering Ren products and fluffy bathrobes.

    There are 7 Garden Suites, 2 Apartments and a Terrace Suite. The former have little gardens where beanbags sit under a carob tree, or you'll find a hanging pod chair - curl up and be gently swung to sleep. The Terrace Suite has a large terrace hidden from other guests, giving it the edge on private space, and it is accessed by a private outside staircase, near the pool.

    If you’re staying en famille, or like to self-cater the odd meal, the Apartments are the ticket: each has a small bedroom, a sitting room with a sofabed, and a tiled kitchenette with a microwave, fridge-freezer, oven, hob and sink, plus a table and chairs. One has a garden, too.

    All rooms have an iPod dock, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, and sleek Artemide lighting with touch-controlled dimmers. There’s air-conditioning, but we preferred to open our French windows and let the breeze flow through.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Cots Available
    • Dvd player
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Ipod dock
    • Mosquito net
    • Phone
    • Satellite tv
    • Terrace
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet

    Eating

    The restaurant, A Cozinha, is open for dinner every day except Saturday throughout the peak season. It is also closed on Wednesdays in off-peak months (Feb, March, Oct & Nov, excluding Easter). Market-fresh produce is bought daily and the dinner menu (2 or 3 choices for each course) is chalked up on a blackboard. You might get mackerel, sea bass or bream, served without fussy sauces or nouvelle foams but with sweet roast peppers, courgettes and beans, as well as inventive, zingy salads - orange, carrot and sweet potato, or fig and goat’s cheese. There are also new twists on the national cuisine with inventions such as Iberian pork with polenta and clams. We loved the carob tart - less sweet than chocolate but tastier, using home-harvested 'black gold'. Sandwiches are available for lunch.

    Nothing beats fruit direct from the tree, and Fazenda Nova grows 15 organic varieties, from olives and almonds to pomegranates and figs, as well as herbs and salad; they even use weeds in soup! On the breakfast buffet we found homegrown apples, plums and pears, fresh pomegranate and orange juice, as well as crusty bread from the 200-year-old oven which they renovated, and delicious, tiny pastel de nata pastries baked by neighbours. Thanks to mild Portuguese winters, the outdoor terrace is a year-round winner.

    If you want to dine out Algarve-style, Cafe dos Mestres in Fuseta is well-priced and heaving with locals. Grab a table on the lively riverside terrace overlooking the fishing boats, and feast on sardines and seabass cooked over an open grill. We also loved the arroz de marisco, a simmering cauldron of rice and shellfish, at Fialho in Pinheiro. Both are a 10-15 minute drive.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Children meals
    • Restaurant
    • Vegetarian menu
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Float in the saltwater pool then soak up the sun on a wooden lounger, or snooze in a hammock in the shade of an olive tree
    • Be a hands-on foodie: pick fruit from the fazenda’s trees or help with the olive harvest in October; for the best food markets head to Olhao (15km), the Algarve's largest fishing port, where you can gawp at the vast array of fresh fish and buy local rosemary honey and dried figs to take home
    • Tavira (11km away) is the prettiest town on the Algarve. It’s river-fronted with a Roman bridge spanning the water for pedestrians. Head to the camera obscura - the old water tower - that through clever use of a rotating mirror and magnifying glasses projects a 360-degree 'tour' of Tavira onto a large horizontal screen
    • Browse for collectibles and tasty treats in the nearby markets - Hallie will point you to the best ones. Fuseta has a great flea market with vintage toys, copper pans and magazines (it’s where she picked up many quirky delights for the hotel). Food stalls at Quelfes are laden with suitcase-friendly olives, almonds, chorizo and cheese
    • Spend a day on the Algarve’s stunning island beaches, all set within a protected nature reserve, the Ria Formosa National Park. You have to take a short boat or train ride to get to some - guaranteed to thrill any child. Some, such as Ihla Tavira, are bustling with shops and restaurants; others - Fuseta, Cabanas, Culatra - are quieter; Armona has the best beach; all are pristine. You can borrow maps, parasols and beach towels from the fazenda, and order a picnic basket from the chef
    • Hallie and Tim can help you organise no end of activities, from windsurfing to quad biking, horse riding to fishing or boat trips to spot dolphins. There are bikes to borrow, too

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Cycling
    • Fishing
    • Golf
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Kayaking
    • Kitesurfing
    • Mountain biking
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Sailing
    • Shopping / markets
    • Swimming
    • Well being
    • Windsurfing
    • Wine tasting
    • Yoga

    Kids

    This is a small hotel where noisy kids will be heard by everyone, so bookings for families and couples are kept apart. Children over 6 are welcomed during 'Family Weeks' - generally half-terms, Easter and July/August. At other times, little babies are allowed, but it is not suitable for toddlers or young 'uns.

    Tim and Hallie are endlessly kind and patient with children - with 3 of their own, they’re used to hullabaloo.
    Baby cots and fold-out beds are available for all rooms (supplement cost).

    Best for:

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

    Family friendly accommodation:

    The 2 Apartments, which can interconnect, are aimed at families and kitted out for preparing a simple lunch or snack for peckish kids, or heating baby food, though not for cooking a complicated meal

    Children's meals:

    During family weeks the menu includes kid friendly dishes like homemade gourmet burgers or battered fish

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Pool with a shallow end and wide steps, perfect for less-confident swimmers
    • Outside space to run around
    • DVDs and board games
    • Bicycles to borrow

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • Beaches
    • Boat trips and dolphin spotting
    • Train rides

    Our guests' ratings...

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

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