Monte da Vilarinha

near Carrapateira, Algarve, Portugal Book from Book from £69 per night

Fabulous, family-focused and wonderfully romantic rooms, apartments and cabins 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 both inside and out. Each of Monte da Vilarinha's 13 living units (spread between 5 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 an incredible breakfast served daily, and lunches and dinners on offer (traditional Alentejo cuisine on request), this is a highly flexible self-catering set-up
  • Children will easily find playmates and families feel fully at home, while couples are able to find romance in secret corners of the luscious garden
  • With solar power, natural materials and recycling, sustainability is central to Vilarinha's ethic rather than a mere afterthought
  • We loved the expansive garden, full of fruit trees and cacti, wildflowers and eucalyptus, and a little stream

Lows

  • Couples without kids might find it too family-focused, though we visited as a couple and loved the relaxed, inclusive energy
  • In Casa do Forno, Double 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 (note that the restaurant is closed in winter until around May/June)
  • You’ll need a car to make the most of the area, and to get to shops and restaurants
World Favourite Family Hideaway

    Best rooms for families

    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. Larger families will be happily housed in Casa da Encosta, which has three bedrooms including a bunk room, and can also add a rollaway bed and cot.

    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; the Deluxe Suite has a sofa 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.

    Parents should know...

    Kids can run around freely, but there are some steps in and around the buildings and there are snakes (non-venomous). 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
  • Highchairs
  • Baby cots

Some equipment may need to be requested in advance

Available on request

Breakfast is served daily; for other meals, you can self-cater or eat in the poolside diner (kids' options are available on request). Please note the restaurant is usually closed for dinner until June. 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

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

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • Boutique Apartments
  • 13
  • Breakfast (+ other meals / self-catering)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Babysitting
  • Creche / Kids Club
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
  • Playroom
  • Playground
Room:

Rooms

There are 5 houses that sleep between 2 and 9, each differing slightly in conception: opt for a double room, studio, apartment or cabin. Whichever you choose, you'll have a private terrace with garden furniture and a choice of sun or shade.

White-washed Casa da Ribeira, nearest the pool, contains 4 open-plan Studios with shower bathrooms and kitchenettes, while a little further up the hill is Casa de Cima, 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.

We stayed in Casa do Forno on our most recent visit and loved the view over the valley. Here you'll find 2 double rooms (no cooking facilities) and a Deluxe Suite with a full kitchen: we loved its spoiling tub, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and huge living area, it also comes will a fully-equipped kitchen. This house makes a great choice for larger families or groups of 3 couples, who can rent it as a private unit (known as the Apartment).

We fell in love with Casa do Vale, a 2-bedroom wooden cabin, thanks to its eaved ceilings and total seclusion in the woods. Casa da Encosta is also a wooden cabin, but boats 3 large bedrooms, a full kitchen, and a wraparound veranda.

Each is unique, but expect beamed ceilings, terracotta-tiled floors, hand-woven throws and furniture made from local cork. Bathrooms boast rainfall showers or tubs but do note that only soap is provided.

Features include:

  • CD player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob or 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 (salt, pepper and oil) can be borrowed from the restaurant and you can buy groceries in the village, 2km away. Note that Double 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 24 hours’ in advance (restaurant usually opens around May/June until early Sept). On our first 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 supperin high season, 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's meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Hob or 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

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!)
Kid Friendly:

Location

Monte da Vilarinha enjoys the best of both worlds: it's hidden away in a leafy valley near Carrapateira, north of Sagres, yet it's close to some of the finest surfing beaches in Europe. The A2 motorway that runs the length of the Algarve makes for an easy arrival from Faro, whilst Lisbon is a little over 300km away (a 3-hour drive).

By Air:
Fly to Faro (90km away), which is a 1-hour drive. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving this airport.

From the Airport
You could manage without a car here by flying to Faro, taking public transport to Lagos, Sagres or Vila do Bispo, then taking a taxi for the final stretch (or they can collect you). However, most guests hire a car, and unless you want to cycle, you'll need to drive to shops, beaches and restaurants.

By Car:
See our car rental recommendations.

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

More on getting to Portugal and getting around

Airports:

  • Faro 90.0 km FAO
  • Lisbon 320.0 km LIS

Other:

  • Beach 6.0 km
  • Shops 2.0 km
  • Restaurant 2.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 5 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
8/10
Food
8/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

We loved Monte da Vilarinha. It was beautiful, peaceful, immaculate and friendly. We stayed in Casa do Vale which is a lovely, well-equipped and comfortable little wooden house tucked into the woodland, perfect for a family of 4. It was very private and quiet but just next the playground and minutes from the pool and restaurant. We spent a lot of time on the site, using the pool and playground and hanging out in our Casa. The place never felt crowded, it's very calm. It was also brilliant for trips to amazing Atlantic beaches (Bordeira and Amado) and for adventures like dolphin spotting and stand up paddle boarding. Both breakfast and dinner were delicious but it's not really a restaurant - dinner three times a week, set menu and we were the only people there! The food was excellent, very plentiful and reasonably priced though. We also found there was everything we needed to self-cater, including our own barbecue. There were no supplies included at all though - not even salt and pepper - so you need to stock up at the supermarket. We really enjoyed our stay and would recommend it.

9/10,

We loved the beautiful and calm place. The garden of Monte da Vilarinha is a green and well maintained oasis, with beautful flowers and trees in the middle of the dry nature in autumn. There are little paths through the surrounding park for short walks or simply for contemplation. The rooms are comfortable and warm and we loved the good mattress and the super shower. The place in front of the room is nice. We rented one of the casas da ribeira. The rooms are well equipped and we didn’t miss anything. You’ll need a car to get there. The nearby coast is wonderful and there are several beaches for swimming or surfing or good paths along the coast. Just a relaxing place, that we can fully recommend, if you like tranquility. Thanks to all the employees.

10/10,

A lovely place to stay! The breakfasts are fantastic and there is a very relaxed atmosphere. A great place to stay with kids.

9/10,

We stayed in Casa de Cima - which is a lovely apartment and is perfect for a small family of four. The design of the rooms is really simple and stylish and the outdoor terrace is brilliant. A small negative was that for a place that creates such a sense of luxury, it seemed a bit mean to just have handwash at the sink and shower. You sort of expect a bit of soap, shower gel or shampoo to go with the bathrobes and fluffy towels. Also, although the staff are lovely they were quite hands off during the day and any pool toys or cups and glasses that were left by the guests around the pool were just left indefinitely until a guest moved them to the kitchen. Tidying up after yourselves is fine of course, but it did seem a bit strange that they wouldn't do a bit of straightening up. Overall the place is very beautiful and incredibly peaceful, but small things like that niggled a bit.

8/10,

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,

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