From the whitewashed villages of the Algarve to creative energy–filled Lisbon to the increasingly stylish beach town of Melides, Portugal's hotel scene continues to evolve in spectacular ways. Here, we survey the landscape.
The secret has been out about Portugal for some time, but that doesn’t mean the southern European country on the Iberian Peninsula has lost its appeal. The crowds have grown but still pale in comparison to traditional European tourist zones. Lisbon is attracting international creatives thanks to pandemic-era incentives, relative affordability, and a temperate Mediterraneanclimate.
The tourism boom ushered in a wave of hotel development stretching from the whitewashed fishing villages and sandy coves of the Algarve to the eastern edge of the Alentejo region near the border with Spain to the windswept surfing coast Ericeira north of Lisbon. Diverse in style and approach reflective of their geographical locations, the arrivals of recent years share a holistic DNA: a strong devotion to Portuguese-led design, guest experiences that showcase the country’s natural splendor, and a connection to local art and craftsmanship.
Here, we present five places to get the scope of Portugal’s bounty.
The Ivens Inspired by 19th-century Portuguese explorers Roberto Ivens and Hermenegildo Capelo’s voyages to Zaire and Mozambique, the 87-key property feels like a world away from its location in Lisbon’s central Chiado neighborhood. Housed inside the city’s historic Rádio Renascença broadcasting building, near landmarks like historic Rossio Square and ancient São Jorge Castle, interior designer Cristina Matos nods to the hotel’s muse with African-print wallpaper depicting jungly landscapes, bronze flamingo lamps, and vintage travel books.
Catalan architect Lázaro Rosa-Violán washed the culinary spaces in a maximalist deco aesthetic. The fulcrum is the ornate Gastro Bar, where guests in floral-backed barstools order from an extensive Negroni list surrounded by floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with bottles of wine. An adjacent alcove hosts the Mediterranean-style Crudo Bar, the place for shellfish, champagne, and nautical keepsakes.
Downstairs, the sultry Neapolitan osteria Rocco is awash in midcentury glam (mirrored orange lacquer ceilings, green glassware). Standout dishes include the lobster linguine, mushroom and truffle tagliatelle served in a pecorino cheese wheel, and ossobuco with saffron risotto.
Aethos Ericeira The fishing village of Ericeira has beckoned surfers to Portugal with its silky breaks for years, but a recent influx of high-end resorts is putting the town on the radar of leisure travelers. The 50-room Aethos Ericeira, which opened its doors in September, is situated on the edge of a windswept 130-foot cliff, a solitary refuge overlooking the golden sand beaches and dramatic rock formations of Portugal’s Silver Coast.
Barcelona-based interior studio Astet and Portuguese architect Luis Pedra Silva modeled the design to be a reflection of the surrounding environment: cobalt blues that mirror the Atlantic Ocean, earth tones pulled from the towering cliffs, and textured neutrals inspired by the sandy beaches below.
Helmed by young chef Afonso Blazquez, the seafood-focused menu—hake with grilled red bell pepper puree and garlic flower; squid “noodles” with pickled mushrooms and dashi—at the restaurant Onda is fortified with seasonal vegetables and fresh fish sourced from the fishing boats in Peniche Harbour. For seasoned surfers, a fleet of solar-powered electric bicycles await for a cruise down to the beach or book a lesson with Joana Andrade, Portugal’s first female big wave surfer. Or lean into the hotel’s wellness amenities such as the saltwater pool and Turkish hammam.
São Lourenço do Barrocal On the eastern edge of the Alentejo region, in the foothills of Monsaraz near the border of Spain, a family-owned agricultural estate has been reimagined as a 40-room boutique hotel. São Lourenço do Barrocal is a 2,000-acre property steeped in history and filled with Archaeological relics, the result of a meticulous 14-year redevelopment.
The former epicenter of the Alentejo region, São Lourenço do Barrocal has lived many lives spanning the Iron and Bronze ages, Roman and Moorish eras, and a 19-century stint as a farming village that sustained nearly 50 families at a time. But perhaps the most exciting evolution can be seen in its current iteration, helmed by José António Uva, an eighth-generation member of the Portuguese family that has owned the property for more than 200 years.
Uva partnered with cross-disciplinary experts, including archaeologists, historians, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, and Lisbon-based firm Anahory Almeida to create the sustainability-focused Barrocal, which has swiftly become one of Portugal’s premier destinations.
Former cowsheds, stables, and olive presses, connected by a cobblestone colonnade, were converted into rooms, suites, and multi-level cottages ideal for family stays. The interiors pair original elements—vaulted ceilings, rustic farm doors, and rehabilitated terracotta bricks—with more contemporary touches such as artisan-made black wooden furnishings, leather Chesterfield sofas, and modern bathrooms. Meanwhile, the art seen throughout the property highlights the local flora and fauna, hand-drawn onto manuscripts and documents discovered during the excavation process.
Farm-to-table dining rings true at São Lourenço do Barrocal: the estate still operates as a working farm ripe with olive groves, grain fields, orchards, vegetable gardens, and a heritage line of livestock. Chef Celestino Grave, an Alentejo native, places a keen focus on seasonality and local gastronomy: think artisanal bread with olive oil pressed on-site, roasted pumpkin soups, and grilled lamb chops.
The estate has been the crown jewel in the Alentejo wine region for 200-plus years, representing the pinnacle of what was often an overlooked area put back on the map with an obsession for quality and dedication to terroir. The production is certified organic, and the wines from the estate breathe a complex dimension into your stay. The Portuguese have a saying that roughly translates to “each monkey to its own branch”—essentially meaning focus on yourself and don’t meddle with others. Sipping some Touriga Nacional as the scene of Sao unfolds before you, it’s easy to take the saying to heart.
The expansive property offers ample opportunities for both play and relaxation, including two outdoor pools, horseback riding, gardening lessons, fitness classes, and guided walks. But the real crown jewel is the Susanne Kaufmann Spa, with an array of holistic treatments using organic products, many of which are infused with plants foraged from the land. For those looking to explore off-property, head to São Pedro do Corval, Portugal’s largest pottery center for shopping or a chance to make your own clay treasures. A visit to the medieval Monsaraz castle is also a must.
Pateos On the outskirts of Melides, 20 minutes down a choppy dirt road, past oak groves and rural quintas, one of the most intriguing new projects in all of Portugal recently soft launched. After 15 years of meditating on the idea, owners Sofia and Miguel Charters found the right opportunity. They knew exactly who to call to bring their vision to life: Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus, a longtime friend and collaborator known for minimalistic style, authentic materials, and interest in voids.
Crafted with concrete, natural stone, and European oak, the four brutalist casas pose against the landscape like sculptures, with views spanning Alentejo’s bucolic countryside to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Filling out the scene is an angular infinity-edge pool fringed by olive and strawberry trees used to make aguardente, a brandy-like spirit distilled from wine.
In typical fashion, Mateus blurs the line between the interiors and nature. The living room areas have retractable floor-to-ceiling glass walls that open to private patios and allow the temperate breeze in. Courtyard moments abound with the architecture, framing the sky like a James Turrell installation.
Inside the one- to three-bedroom suites, tastefully spare interiors are serene but the details sing. Earthy tones and oak furniture add organic energy. British perfumer Lyn Harris designed an original fragrance that bottles the olfactory memory of the region, while local artist Olga Sanina produced original works composed of foliage collected around the property. In lieu of a restaurant, private chefs are available to book for meals, and each morning begins with a picnic basket delivery with fresh fruits, bread, cheeses, and coffee.
In the works for 2023 and beyond: A wine-producing project that will transform the surrounding land into vineyards growing native grapes.
Craveiral Farmhouse A close shot from the seaside village of Zambujeira do Mar where the Portuguese landscape transforms into bucolic Alentejo countryside, the Craveiral Farmhouse is an eco-forward quinta with a cultural heart. From its inception, former Lisbon lawyer Pedro Franca Pinto has championed artisanship with a dedication to rustic minimalism and programming that supports the arts through the lens of sustainability. For instance, the property partners with the nomadic organization BLANK100 to host an artist residency.
Artists such as German sculptor, painter, and performer Jan Zöller and Banji Chona, a multidisciplinary Zambian storyteller based in Rome, live side-by-side with four other talents in low-slung lofts appointed with locally crafted design objects. Guests immerse in workshops, open studios, and communal dinners at the locavore restaurant to cultivate creative exchange. Produced with eco-friendly materials, the final works will join the hotel’s growing contemporary art collection.
Also on site: four swimming pools, a restaurant serving seasonal cuisine and wood-fired pizzas, 38 modern-rustic cottages with freestanding Nuspa cork tubs, and a self-sustaining farm populated by Pygmy goats, Vietnamese cross-breed pigs, and donkeys.