Hotel Martinhal Sagres

Sagres, Algarve, Portugal Book from

Decadent designer hotel perched on a windswept corner of the lower Algarve, with gorgeous sea views and an endless beach
The Martinhal Sagres is like no other hotel on the Algarve. Forget golf, forget overdeveloped land and rammed beaches. This infinitely tasteful designer temple sits within the protected Costa Vicentina national park on the cliffy western rather than flat southern coast - in fact, on the very bottom left-hand corner of Portugal, sticking out into the Atlantic. The location is fabulously unspoilt, wild and rugged - a rather bold setting for such a stunning contemporary hotel. But it works: this is a magical combination of luxury and nature.

The hotel has 37 chic rooms, some in the main building, others in a cluster of private wood-clad blocks beside it, all with views of the impossibly blue ocean. Surrounding them are dozens of self-catering villas for 4-6, some with private pools (see our separate review). The resort has 2 excellent, super-stylish restaurants serving variations on Portuguese food, a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by teak decking and lime-green bean bags, and a small spa with sea-inspired treatments. All is cutting-edge contemporary in style, and the place is part-owned by the people behind the former Luxury Family Hotels group, the UK collection of smart country crash-pads for stressed yummy mummies. The same thoughtfulness, flair for design and eye for detail has been applied here, but in an authentic, thoroughly modern, Portuguese setting.

Highs

  • Couples seeking indulgence within a beautiful natural setting will love the hotel and its spa; and those with a child or baby will appreciate the free extra beds, cots and monitors
  • Active types will be in their element: hike through the national park; stroll along stunning coastline; windsurf and surf; try deep-sea fishing
  • The place feels special, untouched, out-of-the-way, yet it's only 1.5 hours from Faro
  • Gorgeous interiors - a mix of Portuguese materials (local Monchique stone, cork from nearby forests) and funky extras (iPod docks, Mongolian beanbags)
  • The fab local cuisine - cataplana, pasteis de nata - and impressive Portuguese-only wine list

Lows

  • The hotel is part of a resort, and there are dozens of villas sprinkled about. Stylish and low-rise though they are, it all feels a bit suburban (and not very i-escape), but the upside is a wealth of facilities, including tennis courts
  • The communal resort areas - including the hotel pool - are often rowdy with children
  • Service is mixed - staff are lovely, but often too laid-back, and perhaps insufficiently trained
  • Given the exposed location it can be very windy, so not ideal for beach sunbathing, and the surrounding land is bleak in places

Best time to go

April, May, June and September are probably the best months to go when it's quieter and there is less chance of it being windy. July and August are the windiest months but the wind means it's cooler than the rest of the Algarve in mid summer.

Our top tips

Book a Beach Room. These are supremely stylish private capsules, each with their own views of the ocean (it's worth paying the small supplement for the full sea view) and gorgeous teak-decked areas. And make sure you eat out at the Zavial, just around the coast. A plate of fresh sardines, a Sagres beer and a mound of chips overlooking the bay... heaven.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 37 rooms
  • 3 restaurants and cafe-bars (open daily)
  • Best for babies
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Tennis Court
  • Pool Table
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

There are 37 rooms at Hotel Martinhal Sagres. The décor is sumptuous 1950s airport lounge, all muted shades, rounded edges and laminated woods. And the colour scheme is a dreamy, sea-friendly palette of turquoises and baby blues - from the carpets to the stripy woollen throws and cushions on the beds. There are lots of funky touches, including huge Mongolian beanbags on the floor, oversized cream wicker lamps and giant round wooden hooks on the walls. Every room has sea views of some sort (you pay a bit more for the best ones), and bathrooms are spoiling with walk-in showers (some have tubs too), Voya toiletries, and bathrobes for padding down to the pool.

Attention to detail is impressive: there are flip-flops in both Medium and Large; Nespresso coffee machines; well-priced and delicious snacks in the minibar (eg roasted fig and salted almonds) plus free soft drinks; and iPod docks and electric blinds. We were particularly impressed by the thorough demo from room service on arrival. The only downside is that rooms open out onto shared terraces, meaning that privacy can be compromised.

The interior design was crafted by British designer Michael Sodeau, who chose lots of Portuguese materials, including local Monchique stone for the coffee tables, wicker for the lamps - as used in baskets for grape harvesting - and tables and stools made of cork from nearby forests.

The rooms are in 2 locations: Terrace Rooms on the ground floor of the main hotel building, and Beach Rooms in their own separate wooden-clad clusters beside the hotel (4 per cluster). The 2 clusters nearest the cliff front contain a pair of top-of-the-range Beach Suites, each with super-private sun deck and split-level interiors that can connect to the adjacent Beach Room. We stayed in a Beach Room and loved being lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. Price-wise they are divided into partial- or full sea view; it's worht paying the small premium for full sea views, and (in our opinion) asking for the Beach Room location.

The resort is also home to dozens of self-catering villas, clustered round about the hotel.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player (on request)
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Nespresso coffee machine
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The food is a real highlight. You can choose between 2 restaurants: the fine dining O Terraço, a smart venue on the first floor of the hotel and the more relaxed As Dunas, a stylish beach restaurant located beside the pool which specialises in fish and seafood. Villa guests (including children) are welcome at As Dunas.

O Terraço offers classic Portuguese dishes with a contemporary twist, that make the most of the bountiful local produce. Spanking fresh fish and seafood are not to be missed, from salty sardines - freshly caught and crisply grilled (nothing like John West!) - to cataplana, the Algarve’s fabled fish stew. The focus is on beautifully crafted complex dishes such as sea urchins neatly stuffed with scrambled eggs, and pork loin sautéed with clams and coriander. All is light but sophisticated; the six-course tasting menu comes recommended, and there's an impressive Portuguese-only wine list.

As Dunas is more laid-back, with food ranging from frothily light tomato gazpacho to simple ocean-fresh fish dishes. There's also a newer outdoor wine bar which serves Portuguese wines, beers and soft drinks in the early evening. This is also where you can get takeaway pizzas.

Breakfast at O Terraço includes delicious fresh fruit - mangoes, local oranges, the sweetest pineapple and cherries - as well as a selection of cold cuts and cheeses including a divine local black pork (like Serrano ham or Prosciutto only nuttier). Finish on a high with pasteis de nata, the extremely naughty, melt-in-the-mouth Portuguese custard tarts.

For a change of scene, try the new surf-style M Bar which serves breakfasts, afternoon teas, and light lunches (Sushi or Bento box). Or the Pop Up Grill 'The [email protected]'. In the evening the bar is a-buzz with beach bums supping on ciders and cocktails. Suitable for the whole family, the bar has a 1970s VW camper van booth, a dedicated kids bar and a resident DJ.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Laze by the pool on the Fatboy beanbags or comfy loungers. There's a bar here, too

  • Indulge in some sea-based spa treatments at the Finisterra Spa. We loved the sound of bladderwrack body glows, organic coral wraps and smoothing sand scrubs

  • Active types can try the wind-related activities on offer in the bay, from windsurfing to bodyboarding, parasailing to blokarting (land yachting)

  • Stroll along the fabulously unspoilt Martinhal Sagres beach (from which the hotel gets its name) to the fishing port of Sagres. It takes around 15 minutes and there isn’t very much to see once there, but the walk is lovely

  • There are, apparently, 12 other beaches within a 15-minute drive

  • Challenge your fellow guests to a game of tennis (there are 2 artificial grass courts) or try the new Padel tennis, a mix between squash and lawn tennis, with plastic bats

  • Hire mountain bikes from the hotel and cycle to the really windy side of the point that faces due west, straight out at the Atlantic: totally exhilarating

  • The hotel can arrange deep-sea fishing, riding, jeep safaris, nature walks, gourmet picnics and scuba diving

  • And yes, you can play golf if you must; the Martinhal has preferential rates and tee-time deals with 5 local courses, the nearest of which is just 10 minutes away at Parque de Floresta

  • Go on a boat trip to see dolphins, but remember sea sickness tablets if you're not a good sailor – the ocean can get pretty choppy

  • Visit the ruins of Henry the Navigator's fort, the Cape Canaveral of the 15th century

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Dolphin trips
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Mountain biking
  • Pool table
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Tennis coaching
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing
  • Wine tasting

Kids

The hotel welcomes children of all ages, and all extra beds and cots are free (including breakfast). You can book a pair of connecting rooms at reduced rates, or the Terrace rooms can fit an extra bed and a cot - which makes a very competitively-priced option for a couple with 1 child and/or 1 baby who don't need lots of space during their holiday. If you want more space (including a kitchen and living area), you might prefer to stay in one of the resort's villas instead, which are brilliantly kitted out for kids, and range up to 3 bedrooms. There's a wealth of child-friendly activities in Martinhal Sagres Village, where most of the villas are; these are open to hotel guests too, of course.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Terrace rooms can take an extra bed and a cot.

Babysitting:

English-speaking babysitters available, reserve 24 hours in advance

Baby equipment:

Equipment is available to pre-book through the baby concierge.

  • Highchairs
  • Steriliser
  • Baby monitors
  • Stair gates
  • Pram/pushchair to borrow
  • Children's backpack
  • Baby bedding
  • Potty
  • Bottle warmers
  • Socket protectors
  • Door protectors
  • Baby baths

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

Creche/Kid's Club:

There's a fully-staffed creche plus various clubs for kids of all ages: the Creche (ages 6-24 months), the Kids' Club (2-4), Fox Club (5-8), Explorers Club (9-12) and Adventure Club (12-16). Entrance to the first two, for the youngest children, is included in the rates during the winter months. The last 3 are only open in school holidays, including half terms; and most are divided into 2 sessions, morning or afternoon - (see Rates for an idea of costs.

There's also the Blue Room: a video-game room and playspace for children aged 8 and above. The new M Bar is great for kids and adults alike. Adults will love the chilled vibe, cider and live music, while the kids will be thrilled by the 1970s VW camper van booth, dedicated kids bar with games area, and the adjacent outdoor protected play area. And in the evenings (6-9pm M-F), drop your children off at the Kids Club for the Party Zone which offers fun and games including a mini-disco, dinner at Os Gambozinos restaurant and dressing up for 4-8 year olds, so parents can dine a deux.

Children's meals:

All the resort's restaurants have a Baby Menu for 4-12 month old babies as well as a kids menu, and all have high chairs. One restaurant offers child-sized portions; takeaway pizzas are available from the resort's wine bar. The shop sells takeaways too. The Family Bar at the Village Square is designed for families. There's an ice cream corner, a gelataria at Mbar, which serves homemade ice cream, waffles and crepes, plus a Pop Up Grill, 'The [email protected]' too.

Kids Activities on site:

  • 4 swimming pools (all unfenced) including one with water toys
  • Finisterra Spa offers baby massage, plus dedicated treatments for children and teenagers
  • Children's cartoons/animated films in the Village Square in summer months
  • Children's playgrounds
  • Cycling tracks for tweens and teens in front of the As Dunas restaurant
  • Games consoles
  • Football academy
  • Tennis courts and kids' tennis academies

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Boat trips, and dolphin-watching safaris
  • Enjoy the beach or learn to surf or windsurf
  • Mountain biking trails nearby for older kids
  • Older children can take part in the Junior Lifeguard Course

Families Should Know:

There is a nurse on site 9am-6pm daily, and until 8pm in the summer months. The resort shop sells nappies and other baby items. There's a mobile phone signal everywhere in the resort.

Distances:

  • Airport: 1.5 hours
  • Medical treatment: on site
  • Nearest shop: on site
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
6/
Food
8/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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Rates for Hotel Martinhal Sagres