Monte da Vilarinha

near Carrapateira, Algarve, Portugal Book from Book from £95 per night

Fabulous, family-focused rooms, studios and apartments in a leafy valley close to the stunning beaches of the Costa Vicentina
As you follow a winding road down into a wooded valley, across a narrow bridge then up towards an isolated cluster of low schist buildings, you sense that something really special awaits you. And there are few Portuguese hideaways that have been so masterfully crafted, inside and out. Each of Monte da Vilarinha's 10 living units (spread between 4 houses) brilliantly combines clean-cut, contemporary design with the traditional Alentejano materials of slate, terracotta, bamboo and local adobe-like taipa. They, and their shared poolside diner, are as functional as they are good-looking.

But what makes Vilarinha stand out from the pack is its family-friendly ethos. This is a place where children are not just tolerated but celebrated, and any kid would find staying here a joy. There's an adventure playground with swings, a slide and climbing ropes, a wooden roped walkway snaking through the trees, mountain bikes to ride, a beautiful pool, 32 hectares of enchanted valley to explore, and beautiful beaches close by. For toddlers there's a small playroom with toys. And, thanks to the peace and tasty regional cuisine, grown-ups love it, too.

Highs

  • A tranquil setting in a natural park, with lush green views from private terraces and heaps of activities nearby. It's only a short drive from some of the Atlantic coast's most stunning beaches
  • Most units have kitchens and kitchenettes which are well-equipped for cooking
  • With breakfast served daily, and lunches and dinners on offer (traditional Alentejo cuisine), this is a highly flexible self-catering set-up
  • If you came as a family, you could guarantee your children would quickly find playmates
  • With solar power, natural materials and recycling, sustainability is central to Vilarinha's ethic rather than a mere afterthought

Lows

  • Couples without kids might find it too family-focused
  • In Casa do Forno, Rooms 1 and 2 do not have access to self-catering facilities
  • Meals follow a set-menu formula but can be adapted for veggies and fussy eaters - dinner should be confirmed 24 hours in advance
  • The diner lacks atmosphere in the evening, but the food is delicious and the staff friendly
  • The restaurant is closed in winter until around May/June and it's a drive to shops and restaurants

Best time to go

It gets extremely hot in July and August, when a minimum booking of a week is required. Spring (April-May) is perfect for flowers, autumn (September-October) for coastal walks. The sea is swimmable from June to September. It can rain quite a lot in winter (November-March).

Our top tips

Bear in mind that, whilst the beaches in this part of Portugal are amongst the most beautiful in the country, the sea is several degrees cooler than elsewhere in the Algarve. Bringing wet suits for you and your children might significantly add to the enjoyment of your holiday

It's also worth packing a torch to help you navigate your way around the site after dark, as there's little outdoor lighting (though this means it's great for star-gazing!)

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • Boutique Apartments
  • 14
  • Breakfast (+ other meals / self-catering)
  • 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
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
  • Playroom
  • Playground
Room:

Rooms

Vilarinha's rooms, studios and apartments are spread between 4 different houses, each differing slightly in conception. Whichever you choose, you'll have a private terrace with garden furniture and a choice of sun or shade.

Casa da Ribeira contains 4 open-plan Studios, each containing shower bathrooms, sitting areas and their own kitchenettes. This is the nearest house to the pool.

A little further up the hill, Casa de Cima is home to 3 larger Apartments. Each has a double bedroom, a living room with a sofabed (single), a kitchen/diner, and a bathroom with a tub.

Just beyond the bread oven and barbecue terrace, you'll find Casa do Forno, which has 3 double rooms. Double Rooms 1 and 2 have showers only and no cooking facilities. The Apartment (Room 3) has a bathtub and a private kitchen. This house makes a great choice for larger families or groups of 3 couples, who can rent it as a private unit.

All four house share a similar decorative style: high bamboo-and-beam ceilings, terracotta-tiled floors and furniture made from local cork. All-white walls impart a fresh, light ambiance. Beds come with top-of-the-range mattresses, Egyptian cotton sheets and Indian cotton throws. There are radios, plus shelves and hanging rails for storage. Bathrooms have snowy-white towels, hairdryers, shower gel and hand-wash.

We are yet to personally view Casa do Vale, which was added since our visit; being slightly further out than the other houses it boasts total seclusion and has 2 double bedrooms.

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Phone
  • Private or shared kitchen
  • Radio
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Most rooms and suites have access to snazzy kitchens and kitchenettes with hobs, microwaves, fridges and dishwashers, but no ovens. There’s also a communal barbecue and bread oven - exclusive to Casa do Forno if the building has been booked in for one group. Basic ingredients are provided and you can buy groceries in the village, 2km away. Note that Rooms 1 and 2 in Casa do Forno do not have any self-catering facilities.

Cooking is just one option though, Vilharinha also has a glass-fronted diner by the pool with tables spilling out onto the terrace whenever the weather's good. There’s a healthy buffet breakfast of locally made cheese, juicy tomatoes, homemade jams, fruit salad and freshly squeezed orange juice, plus wonderful freshly baked bread and sweet treats from a renowned Aljezúr bakery. If you have to leave for an early flight, breakfast packs can be delivered to your door in the evening, ready for the next morning.

Lunches and dinners should be requested 48 hours’ in advance (restaurant usually opens around May/June). Lunch could be a salad with octopus or shrimp, a mushroom risotto, or pork with Aljezúr sweet potato. On our last visit, we tucked into a 3-course set menu dinner of sea bass and decadent chocolate cake, while our son feasted on spaghetti Bolognese and ice cream.

Groups of 5 or more (team up with fellow guests if you're short) can order a gourmet fish supper, which may feature the famous perceves or gooseneck barnacles from Vila do Bispo.

If you prefer to eat out, there’s a choice of simple restaurants in Carrapateira, 5km down the road - the team are on hand for recommendations.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Fridge
  • Hob stove
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Vilarinha is set in a natural park, surrounded by beautiful mountains, rivers, lakes and valleys. Bring your binoculars for bird-watching, go hiking (there are marked trails), or ask the owners about fishing and kayaking opportunities
  • Grab one of the mountain bikes and explore the surrounding area on 2 wheels
  • Or saddle up and meander through this beautiful swathe of country on horseback: there are stables just down the road
  • Head for the beach. The nearest, Amado, is about 5 minutes away by car, with a huge stretch of sand and lots of surf schools; a few minutes further on is the beautiful Bordeira, which has a river for children to paddle in
  • Hit the waves or, if you’re a novice, book a place on a surf course: the Costa Vicentina is home to some of Europe's best breaks. Even if you're not a surfer, it's great fun just to watch
  • Shop for the makings of your meals at any number of colourful local markets: you can make use of Vilarinha's big barbecue area or prepare a roast in its wood-fired oven
  • Head down to Sagres - if you've got kids in tow you might be tempted to visit the zoo - then carry on to Cabo São Vicente (Cape St Vincent), from where the sunsets are simply electrifying
  • Back at Vilarinha, laze by the small crescent-shaped pool, doze in a hammock, treat yourself to a massage with a local therapist (arranged on request), then sit back on your terrace with a glass of chilled vinho verde as the stars appear overhead

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being

Kids

This is a perfect place for a family holiday, combining rural retreat and proximity to the beach; in fact it's so popular with parents that you're bound to end up with new friends, much like your kids. Vilarinha's guiding ethos is to encourage children to get outside and discover more about nature, and with its playground, lawn, toys for toddlers and welcoming atmosphere, it does that and more.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Casa do Vale would be ideal for families as it has 2 double bedrooms, with the space for a rollaway bed or cot at an extra cost.

The Casa da Ribeira Studios have a double bedroom plus a lounge with a single sofabed; their bathrooms are shower only. The Casa de Cima Apartments sofabeds and space for a rollaway bed (they can sleep up to 4 + a baby).

In Casa do Forno, Room 2 has space for a rollaway bed; Room 3 has a sofabed and a rollaway bed; all can take a baby cot. Larger family parties should book all 3 Casa do Forno rooms (sleeping 9 in total), which share a big open-plan kitchen/dining and living room.

Babysitting:

Available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Highchairs
  • Baby cots

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

Children's meals:

Breakfast is served daily; for other meals, you can self-cater or eat in the poolside diner (kids' options are available on request). Room 1 and 2 in Casa do Forno do not have self-catering facilities. Kitchens have microwaves for heating up baby food. The nearest grocery shop is 2km away

Kids Activities on site:

  • Small playroom for toddlers
  • Playground and rope walkway for older kids
  • Mountain bikes to borrow
  • Swimming pool
  • Ping pong table
  • Lovely expanse of flat lawn that's perfect for toddlers (though there are some water features nearby)

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches
  • Horse riding
  • Zoo in Sagres
  • Surfing lessons

Families Should Know:

Kids can run around freely, but there are some steps in and around the buildings. The pool is unfenced so toddlers, as always, need a keen eye on them. The hotel also has a dog which is often off the lead in the gardens

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour (Faro)
  • Nearest shop: 5 minutes
  • Hospital: 40 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 13 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

A wonderful location and a beautiful hotel which we loved. Would have been great to have been able to have dinner in the restaurant (closed in April); breakfast was delicious there! The room had a beautiful view but could have had a few more personal touches to make it even better (especially the terrace). We loved it though and will return!

9/10, , April 2017

It was really nice. Our room was nice but small for 3 of us. Great breakfast - dinner wasn’t that often, too much booking in advance - would be nicer if they arrange dinners for all, so people get to know each other better. Service was good and clean. Could have been more personal. Value, design, nature and location are top.

8/10, , July 2016

Beautiful environment, a paradise on earth, fantastic. The lovely Carrapateira and the beaches nearby. Don't miss the famous Ilaria's pancake's in the morning at breakfast...mmm.Thank you.

9/10, , June 2016

We and our son enjoyed a lot! Nice place, people and area.

10/10, , April 2016

This is a really special place. Very relaxed, with a stunning countryside location. The staff went out of their way to be helpful. The picnic breakfast on our last morning (we had to leave early) was much appreciated. <br>Overall we had a great stay and would like to come back. The drive from Faro airport was longer than expected - I would say 1.5 to 2 hours.

9/10, , March 2016

Breakfast is very good and leisurely. <br>You'll need a car to get to beaches and other destinations as well as meals if eating out.The kitchen in the Casa Ribeira was good for simple meals.Seems best suited to families with younger children. Lots of fun.

10/10, , August 2015

Everything was great. Very family friendly. We had a lovely time. Staff were very nice. Our rooms were tidied whilst we had our breakfast which was great. Our ten year old daughter made a few friends around the pool so we could relax. <br>It is worth enquiring about midweek to midweek stays in the summer and saving money on flights. We flew to Faro and it was an easy journey to Monte da Vilarinha. <br>Generally, the area is very low key and quiet which is what we wanted. <br>

10/10, , July 2015

We had a very enjoyable and relaxing time at Monte da Vilarinha. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff and the breakfast was fabulous - covering all ages and nationalities from bacon and eggs to fruit salad to croissants. <br>We would highly recommend this place. It combines the excellent surf near by for my husband and son, while us girls and ladies could hang out by the pool in the sunshine. <br>We will be back at some point in the future for sure.

10/10, , August 2015

We had five nights at Monte Da Vilarinha. The accommodation was great and just what we needed, with a small kitchenette and living area and a lovely outside terrace. The area is absolutely beautiful but you will definitely need a car if you want to make the most of your stay. Amado beach is beautiful and we drove to Sagres on two of the days where we found a quiet cove perfect for swimming. There are lots of places to hire surf boards. I recommend bringing a wetsuit if you have one as we did, as it is chilly and the prices to hire are fairly expensive. We came in May and it was the perfect time as we had great weather but the roads and beaches were blissfully quiet! Lovely place and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Thank you!

8/10, , May 2015

A really lovely place. Apartments are extremely nice and attention to detail is very good. Breakfast was very good but standards dropped when the number of guests reduced. <br>One negative is the lack of presence at reception - there is rarely anyone there which makes makes it difficult to make inquiries and generally impacts on level of service. <br>A great spot for children. As it is small, children tend to mix well and there are plenty of toys etc for them to play with. <br>It is isolated which means it is quiet, but if that is what you want, then you would struggle to find better. <br>Lots of good restaurants in nearby towns - Sitio de Rio being one and Sitio de Pedralva being another. Research your directions to the hotel well before going as it is hard to find (sign posts aren't brilliant in the area). Overall a lovely stay and we would go back.

9/10, , March 2015

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Rates for Monte da Vilarinha