St Tropez in the Seventies, St Barths in the Eighties, Jose Ignacio in the Nineties - the comparisons have come to Comporta thick and fast. Like other fashionable beach destinations, this stretch of coast in southwest Portugal is frequented by a well-heeled crowd, who come in the summer to see everybody they know (while also imagining that nobody cares a jot who they are).
Any semblance of a "scene" however takes place behind closed doors, and the Comporta experience is, for the average traveller, about eating well and sleeping well before long days at the beach. There's still only one hotel around, and and by god is it getting it right. A carpet of wild daisies and foxgloves greets guests as they turn into the gardens of Sublime Comporta. Edging through a set of peach-coloured doors, a gravel path leads the way past eucalyptus trees and umbrella pines to the hotel's heart: an open-plan lobby and restaurant with an industrial design that nods to the area's history as centre of rice farming. Sublime's infinity pool is undoubtedly the hotel's money shot - it's settled in front of a blush-pink spa and a fire pit which come alight in the evenings.
Sublime was originally a family home and later just happened to become a hotel - and it shows. There's a warm and friendly feel to the place and most visitors stay tucked up in their cabanas during the day with the communal areas bringing people together when it counts. Keep an eye out for local residents including Christian Louboutin and Philippe Starck. Oh, and Madonna recently passed through and took to the beach on horseback.
Sublime has 34 rooms, including two and three-bedroom cabana villas which have been inspired by traditional Portuguese fishing huts. Each of the cabins has its own living area and private swimming pool, and is tucked away in a pine forest. Polished concrete floors and walls along with blue and white-striped linen create a light and airy feel, while much of the furniture has been been salvaged from a local farmer called Senor Julio, who sells antique artefacts on the side of the road.
What's for breakfast?
A buffet spread with fresh fruit, pulpy juices, natural yoghurts and custard tarts that are unfortunately small enough to be popped whole into the mouth (when in Portugal). Eggs and more are cooked to order.
How about lunch and dinner?
A newly planted organic garden forms the basis of the menu at Sublime's restaurant, Sem Porta (Without a Door). The Yugoslav and Portuguese chef Ljubomir Stanisic is at the helm of a menu which respects the slow and seasonal nature of local produce, giving precedence to Alentejo fisherman and wineries. Guests can feast on dishes such as migas (a kind of savoury bread pudding) with river mint and mussel broth, while dining in the restaurant, on the terrace or in the garden itself.
Is there a bar?
Yes and it's beautiful, stretching out from the restaurant onto a terrace that overlooks the forest and swimming pool.
Free wifi, spa, fitness studio, boutique, bicycles to rent.
Things you should know
Comporta is not a quaint village or seaside town; it's a stretch of countryside on Portugal's south west and it's almost impossible to navigate without a car. Sublime has begun to host chef events as well as wellness retreats hosted by Sarah Britton - check out the website for dates and details.
Within a short walk you can find…
You can pootle down to a reservoir via bicycle, but you'll need a car to get beyond the hotel grounds. We'd recommend lunch at Sal on Pego Beach.