The Algarve, just 3 hours away from London and if you’re lucky enough you’ll be greeted by dolphins 😉I travelled to Portugal a few weeks ago for a post birthday weekend break, I wanted somewhere lovely a warm that wasn’t too far away from home and I am always on the lookout to explore somewhere new. I had a few days off work and I wanted to head out somewhere for a few days in the sun and some much needed R&R! I had never travelled to Portugal before but I had heard such lovely things about The Algarve, mentions of amazing beaches, great restaurants and the fact that they often spot dolphins! There was then the added bonus of knowing my favourite hotel group has a residence there. So within a few hours of noted interest, my flights were booked, room reserved and off I headed to the Conrad Algarve.
Having visited a number of hotels from The Conrad Group previously, I was expecting luxury and I wasn’t disappointed. For 4 days I enjoyed incredible hospitality, appreciated the gorgeous resort views. revealed in the relaxation and devoured some delicious food. Another Conrad Hotel with my Clutch & Carry-On stamp of approval 😉
The Conrad Algarve is about 5/10 minutes from the closest beach and the grounds are situated high enough to enjoy sea views in the distance. The Hotel itself is pristine, with white decor, fresh fabrics and minimalistic furniture. The modern style of the building works so beautifully with the bright blue waters of the swimming pools and the fresh green and spring colours of the many flower gardens. The grounds are so beautifully well kept, there’s isn’t a bud out of place. Walking the pathway is like walking a Spring/Summer catwalk and I absolutely loved the fact that you were never more than 10 metres away from water.
As well as that gorgeous infinity pool there is another pool and lounging area which has a beach-club vibe. This is actually where I spent the majority of my time, relaxing, taking a dip in the pool, sipping on yummy cocktails and doing a spot of work on my laptop. The whole area is pristine, there’s countless plush sun loungers (all varying in design and size) and a smiling pool-tender on hand at every corner. It can be tough to tear yourself away from the pool, the explorer in me wanted to head out and see more of Portugal but at the same time I would have been just as happy chilling here for the 4 days! 😉
The hotel is immaculately decorated and our room itself was picture perfect. We stayed in a luxurious double room complete with a spacious balcony. The room has everything you need for a comfortable and stylish stay, and the view was simply stunning!
Aesthetically I loved the decor of the room, fresh whites with touches of powder blue and gold fixtures. The bed was huge, super comfy and perfectly placed to enjoy the morning view. There was a large dressing room and super luxurious bathroom complete with a separate showroom and 3 TV screens!
There’s so much to do in and around the surrounding areas of the hotel and the concierge desk was always more than willing to point out the best restaurants and day trips etc, as well as arranging transport and tips to go along with their suggestions 😉
It was here at the harbour, after a lovely dinner, that we booked our dolphin hunting excursion. We opted for a the dolphin safari rather than a private yacht as the specific safari boats are legally allowed to travel out further than speedboats or yachts and we wanted to have the best chance of spotting them! Luckily for us, we saw them the very next day 😀 The trip cost 35 euros and we were out on the water for a couple of hours. Not only did we spot the dolphins but we were able to stick with them and watch them play and swim under the boats, there was hundreds of them and they were all so close to us – it was honestly such a memorable experience and to think that this location is so accessible for us Londoners! I couldn’t recommend The Algarve more if you are trying to spot these majestic mammals in the wild, it is honestly one of my favourite things to enjoy in life and this particular experience was definitely one of my best encounters to date.
Our exploring didn’t stop there, I also booked in for a paddle board lesson with the lovely guys from Zen Up. We travelled to a quieter and calmer location and I had an hour’s lesson on the board – it was another really great experience and one that I would definitely recommend. Unfortunatley, due to windy weather I wasn’t able to paddle in the sea, so we travelled to a natural reserve for calmer waters instead but usually you are able to board along the coastline and they have, in past lessons even managed to engage with dolphins! Should I return to The Algarve I would love to paddle along the coast, not just for playtime with my buddies but also the super stunning views!
Back at the hotel for there are lots of options to enjoy a weekend break to it’s fullest. Aside from lounging and brunching by the lush pools, there is also the award winning spa and some amazing restaurants.
On our first evening we dined at what has to now be named one of my favourite restaurants in Europe! Gusto by Heinz Beck, a Mediterranean fine cuisine restaurant that quite literally took my breath away. We enjoyed a 6 course meal complete with accompanying wine with every dish and I have to say my tastebuds had never been so tantalised! Having worked with The Conrad Group before I knew to expect great food, the level of excellence in these hotels really is second to none but Gusto has to be up there as one of the finest of them all.
Each dish was placed and described with care, wine accompanying the dishes as they were served. The Sommelier was spot on with every choice of wine, not only did he select the perfect tipple, he was aslo so knowledgable about every wine and it was a really informative and lovely experience. After our dishes we then moved into the bar area where we were looked after by an award winning bar tender – Looking back, it really was a perfect evening; fine dining, delicious wines, fun cocktails and amazing conversation.
The hotel was at full capacity during our stay and even though the pool areas were quite crowded in the early morning and afternoons there was always a great sense of space in the Hotel. It has always been something I look for in a luxury hotel, the ability to make guests feel special and somewhat secluded even if the hotel has hundreds of guests on site.
The spa was another great example of this. I was lucky enough to get an appointment on a cloudy day and the entire spa was spacious, clean and incredibly calming – again, even though it was fully booked.
I had an hour aromatherapy massage and it was really great, super relaxing and awakening at the same time, I loved it. I then spent a few hours in the relaxation and pool area. There was an indoor pool complete with underwater seating and jet areas, and outdoor infinity pool, hot stone beds, steam room, sauna and comfortable day beds to relax and enjoy the view on. It was such a gorgeous spa all round and the staff were really lovely. I am also so obsessed with the Conrad spa robes, I need to get my hands on one to keep, they are the comfiest robes I have ever had the pleasure of relaxing in.
I didn’t manage to take many photos in the spa but I did sneak in my GoPro in my robes pocket 😉