Today (August 6, 2014): Areias Do Seixo, Portugal’s best kept secret.
Located less than an hour away from Lisbon, Areias Do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences is the realisation of the dream of owners Marta and Gonçalo. They had a compelling desire to create a unique place where they could welcome people from the four corners of the globe in a magical yet familiar setting. And the result? A place of enchantment crafted from a range of resources that have been thoughtfully and painstakingly assembled to equal so much more than a simple sum of their parts. Awe-inspiring originality combined with sublime comfort. A place where time stands still. A place to pause and savour every moment, cradled by sea, dunes, and pine trees and washed by natural marine light. This is Portugal’s best kept secret, and without a doubt one of Europe’s most romantic getaways.
Have you ever stayed at Areias Do Seixo? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The resort, a place of immense beauty and tranquility, enjoys an excellent location, only an hour drive north from Lisbon Airport.
- Without a doubt, the architecture and overall decor is the strongest point of the hotel. The mix of industrial concrete and steel, with touches of wooden elements and glass structures, offers an exceptional aesthetically pleasing decor. In the evening, the bar/restaurant is lit up wonderfully, becoming a trendy and intimate place to relax and enjoy a cocktail, wine and/or the food.
- There are just 14 rooms and 5 villas here, and all but one have a view over the gardens and the distant sea. Out on the south-facing deck of each room there are a couple of large cushions to sunbathe, another more formal sunbed, plus a small table. The room’s interiors are exquisite and they all come with fireplaces. The beds are heavenly soft (en pair with Four Seasons and other luxury hotels) with amazing pillows and quilts. The bathroom decors are brilliant. Each night they lit tens of candles, place cookies and local crackers in jars, creating a very romantic and pleasant atmosphere. Wow!
- The beach, below the impressive cliffs, is located about a 10 minute walk from the hotel (through the dunes) and is stunningly beautiful. The waves of the Atlantic are pretty amazing and you have the rough coastline almost entirely to yourself. Hats, parasols and beach bags are provided by the hotel.
- Each night, the hotel owners offer complimentary wine tasting at a special location: a highly appreciated gesture.
- One of the highlights of your stay will be the impeccable service provided by the staff. Put simply, the hotel staff is wonderful, genuinely friendly and laid-back, yet willing to do everything to ensure your stay is memorable.
- The spa is lovely. While the facilities are modest with simply a steam room, a sauna and a relaxing area to drink wonderfully prepared tea, the treatments from Marta (the head masseuse) and her staff are exceptional and moderately priced. The Areias do Seixo special (“The pebbles”) with warm stones is highly recommended.
- The food is good, from the excellent breakfast buffet, with its fresh plate of Portuguese meats and cheeses, fresh fruits and yoghurt, and fresh fruit juices, to the evening diner and its extensive list of local Portuguese wines. The only drawback was the limited choice on the menu, but the cod for two and the beef ribs for two are highly recommended staples of the Areias do Seixo diner menu.
- Rooms rates are very modest in relation to the luxurious and exclusive experience that you receive.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
This hotel comes close to being perfect, especially when you realize it is privately managed (and not part of a luxury hotel chain). There are no real cons, just some suggestions for the owners and a few things you need to know:
- While very attractive, the swimming pool is very cold. Heating of the pool to a more comfortable temperature would enhance the customer experience.
- I somewhat missed the presence a hot tub on the terrace near the pool. That would have been a brilliant addition to this superb hotel, especially on those chilly nights in autumn and spring.
- Service at the pool was limited and too laid-back. There are no staff members around to take orders for drinks (would be nice for the clients and the hotel could increase its revenues) or to offer little snacks (as is the case in most high-end resorts these days).
- The menu lacks a bit of creativity and inspiration (also in relation to the price charged, about 45 euros per person). The focus is on garden fresh ingredients and sometimes it simply misses seasoning, resulting in rather plain tastes and dull presentations. Foodies might be a little disappointed.
- Internet connection is good in the rooms, but there is no WiFi in the pool area. This may not bother some, but I did miss it to surf the internet on my tablet while lounging near the pool.
- While probably not possible, a private club at the beach (with loungers for the hotel guests) would be a great feature! I believe the hotel should give this idea a thought. But maybe I am just nitpicking now ;).
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 10/10
- Rooms: 10/10
- Food: 7/10
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Room tip: every room is different but all are equally beautiful. My advice (since there are only 14 of them): if you can get one, book it.
- Room tip: if privacy is a must, book one of the 3 more expensive rooms located on the first floor.
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Areias Do Seixo (and/or receive many free perks). If you book the hotel via Kiwicollection, you are entitled to a best available rate guarantee, 3pm late check out (if available), automatic room upgrade at check in (subject to availability), a farewell gift, and welcome drinks and snacks.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
In general, the Portuguese coast north of Lisbon has hot dry summers and mild but unpredictable winters. The weather is suitable for lounging outdoors and on the beach between May through to late September with the true summer months of July and August being very hot. The winter months can be unpredictable with an equal amount of bright clear days as gray wet days.
HOW TO GET THERE
Areias Do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences is located a 45 to 60 minute drive from Lisbon Portela Airport. The latter is served by most European full-service and low-cost airlines (click here for a direct link to their websites), as well as by many non-European airlines. Check the Wikipedia page of Lisbon Portela Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Lisbon.