Grand House Algarve

Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Algarve, Portugal Book from Book from £151 per night

An elegant revival of a grand 1920s house with 30 handsome rooms, a seaside beach club and views across the River Guadiana to Spain
One of the finest buildings in Vila Real de Santo Antonio, the former Hotel Guadiana was built in the heady days of the Roaring Twenties. Back then, it housed a handsome confection of Baroque and Art Nouveau designed to wow guests during the early days of Algarve tourism. A recent transformation has remained true to its roots: the Grand Salon dining room is all twirling ceiling fans, cane chairs, sunlight and polished wood; elsewhere maritime stripes, porcelain and Louis Vuitton fabrics pick up the sparkling blues of the River Guadiana marina, right on the doorstep. A cantilevered staircase leads up to 30 gorgeous bedrooms. The welcome is magnificent, too. Grand House is the first five-star hotel in this up-and-coming border town, and it's set a standard for impeccable service.

With no pool and little outside space other than a nifty roof terrace, the hotel has created a sybaritic sister in the Grand Beach Club: a relaxed, sand-in-the-toes sort of place with hammocks slung between palm trees, fresh seafood and cocktails by the pool. It’s only two minutes away, and a chauffeured courtesy car is at your disposal. Plus, coming soon: a private stretch of beach with sunbeds among the sand dunes, a Grand Café (located inside the town's Old Customs House) and a Grand Gallery. Watch this space...
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • We love the casual Beach Club with its sundeck, pool and mini beach
  • From the warm welcome to the anything-is-possible approach, the staff are exceptional
  • Brilliant location right on the Portuguese border (you can wave at Spain from across the river), close to nature reserves, unspoilt villages and sandy beaches – the town’s 12km beach is a beauty
  • The hotel manages to breathe luxury without being the least bit snooty
  • Very elegant bedrooms with pastel interiors and lots of original features (chandeliers and all)

Lows

  • The Grand Salon restaurant is a little pricey; the Beach Club is easier on the pocket
  • Not all rooms have river views - request one that does if you can
  • No pool at the hotel itself, but the one at the Beach Club is only a couple of minutes away

Best time to go

This is a good year-round destination (it was still warm and sunny when we visited in mid-November). The months of high summer can be uncomfortably hot, while the shoulder seasons (April to June and September/October) are warm enough for shorts and sandals. Winters are generally mild (but, note, the Beach Club is closed in the evenings from October until March). The Grand pushes the boat out at Christmas with festive and New Year’s Eve packages.

Our top tips

If you’re hiring a car, make sure you can drive it into Spain (the bridge across the border is just five minutes from the hotel). For day trips closer to home, ditch the car for a few hours, hop on one of the Grand’s courtesy bikes and spend a pleasant afternoon pedaling to the beach and back: an easy ride, mostly off-road. When open, take the time to visit the town’s working lighthouse.

Great for...

Beach
City Style
Romantic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 30
  • Restaurant and bar
  • 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
  • Laundry service
Room:

Rooms

The best of the hotel’s 30 rooms face the river and the marina promenade - a few have balconies and there are three corner suites. Rooms at the rear overlook the town’s white-washed backstreets. They come in three sizes (small, medium and grand) but all share the same classic style: a clean, creamy white palette that sets off original features (lofty ceilings, decorative plasterwork, panelling and pretty windows). Expect lush rugs on wooden floors and a few well-chosen pieces of classic and modern art, framed prints, gilded mirrors, dangly crystal chandeliers and antique furniture. Dreamy beds feature Spanish mattresses dressed with Portuguese linens and luxury pillows. Every room has air conditioning, flat-screen TV, Bluetooth speakers and a mobile butler.

Bathrooms too are simply but beautifully done, with glassy walk-in power showers, marble surfaces and grey and white floor tiles. In the larger rooms, you get twin basins. Only one room in the hotel has a bathtub.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

With its linen tablecloths, potted aspidistras and views of the river, the hotel’s Grand Salon restaurant is a blast from the past: the colonial-era revisited with a hint of the Orient Express. The food is modern Portuguese, with a small menu of beautifully presented dishes (try sea ravioli with verbena and Champagne or aged beef tenderloin). A premium wine list, homemade breads and a five-course tasting menu also feature. In the morning, the Salon shakes off the formalities for breakfast: a buffet of cereals, fruit, pastries, cold meats, cheeses and eggs to order.

For al fresco lunches, dinner or cocktails by the pool, the laid-back Beach Club (ask for a courtesy car to whisk you there and back) majors on seafood (grilled octopus, prawn flambe, fish cataplana) as well as charcoal-roasted steaks, pizzas, burgers, salads and sundowners. It’s lovely to see the local fishing boats chugging into the harbour as you tuck into the catch of the day.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore Vila Real de Santo Antonio: rebuilt after an earthquake in 1755, the town is a model of urban planning with a grid of white-washed streets, a grand plaza and a waterfront promenade.
  • Santo Antonio beach is a cracker and the Grand House has reserved a corner of its fine white sand especially for guests. For a change of scene, the busier beach at Praia Verde is close by.
  • Visit Castro Marim, a historic town with a salt-marsh nature reserve, or follow the Rio Guadiana upstream to the time-warped fishing village of Alcoutim.
  • Explore Cacela Velha, a perfect Algarve village with sensational views of the Ria Formosa lagoon.
  • Ask the hotel to book an activity for you - golf, pleasure flights, cookery courses and horse riding are all on offer in the area.
  • Take a foot ferry across the river to Ayamonte in Spain. For a longer trip, head for Seville: the Andalucian city is less than two hours by car.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

Kids

Families are welcome, and there is one family suite, though this is not the obvious place for toddlers or young children. That said, kids will love playing on wide, sandy Santo Antonio beach.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

The Grand Family Suite sleeps two adults and two children. Babies can be accommodated in cots in most rooms, or teenagers in adjacent rooms.

Baby equipment:

High chair

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

Distances:

  • Airport: 45-minute drive
  • Hospital: 45-minute drive
  • Supermarket: Two minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Grand House Algarve overlooks the marina on the River Guadiana estuary in Vila Real de Santo Antonio, in the eastern Algarve.

By Air
Faro (60km) is the closest airport, about a 50-minute drive from the hotel.

From the Airport
There's an airport transfer service (extra cost), or you can catch the bus to Vila Real de Santo António - the hotel is situated 200 metres from the bus stop.

By Car
If you want to hire a car, see our car rental recommendations. There is easy parking at the hotel (either on the road outside or valet parking).

By train
There is a rail service between Vila Real de Santo Antonio and Faro, taking about 40 minutes.

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

Airports:

  • Faro 60.0 km FAO
  • Seville 160.0 km SVQ

Other:

  • Beach 2.4 km
  • Shops 0.1 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
8/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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