Fazenda Nova, Algarve
25 September, 2017
Away from the resorts full of sun-seeking holidaymakers in the coastal region of southern Portugal, Fazenda Nova is a boutique hideaway in the heart of the Algarve's rolling countryside. A Portuguese country house and farm that has been converted into a charming 10-room hotel, this secluded retreat is a far cry from the family resorts of Faro and Portimao - and it even has its own soundtrack in the form of a vinyl room filled with over 1,500 records, carefully curated by the hotel's owners.
Surrounded by 10 hectares, including an orchard, vegetable and herb garden that provide fresh organic produce for the Fazenda restaurant (take note of the olive oil that's grown, harvested and bottled onsite), the grounds feature cleverly designed gardens where you can wander winding pathways to find a shady spot to read a book from the well-stocked library. Prefer to relax in the sun? Set yourself up on a dreamy daybed by the pool and spend a whole afternoon working on your tan under the almost perpetually blue skies - here, it's all about enjoying life at a slower pace.
Fazenda Nova, Algarve
While each of Fazenda Nova's 10 suites has been designed with the original 19th-century farmhouse in mind, you'll find no country amenities here. Super-sized beds, rain showers and satellite television meet chic, eclectic decor, with pieces sourced during owner Tim and Hallie's travels across South Africa, New York, Wales, Thailand and Brazil. Flea market finds from monthly markets in Fuseta and Lisbon add a vintage feel, and each room even has its own private garden with a fire pit for the cooler months.
What's for breakfast?
A European-style breakfast of fresh fruit, pastries, cereals, cold meats, cheeses and freshly-baked breads are served in the restaurant or out on the patio in front of a 200-year-old bread oven. And don't skip the custard tarts in favour of less calorific fare - you're on holiday, after all.
How about lunch and dinner?
At A Cozinha, the hotel restaurant, guests can dine on seasonal dishes with an Iberian bent, featuring plenty of seafood - much of it from the nearby fish market in Olhao. Using produce grown in the kitchen garden and orchard, the line-up of dishes includes regional favourites like cataplana, a feast of assorted fish and shellfish in a flavoursome broth served in a copper pot, best matched with a glass of Portuguese wine.
Is there a bar?
We've already mentioned the wine, but you'll also find plenty of spirits on offer in the bar. Make yourself at right at home in the cosy lounge area and stay up sipping drinks as late as you want - once the staff have gone to bed you can keep pouring them yourself, honesty-bar style.
Things you should know
Don't be afraid to ask for area tips from the friendly staff - or anything really. From massages and one-on-one yoga training in your room to bookings for golf courses, watersports, horseriding and dining, Fazenda Nova will arrange anything you need. We're convinced it's really a secret ploy to keep their guests returning year after year - one trip and you'll already be planning your next stay.
Within a short walk you can find…
Not much - that's kind of the point. If you do want explore the surrounding area without a car, a leisurely hike or bike (which you can borrow from the hotel) ride through the countryside is an adventure in itself, but otherwise there's plenty to be found within a 10-minute drive, from the beaches the Algarve is known for to Tavira, one of the prettiest towns in the region, as well as Fuseta, a tiny fishing village full of seafood restaurants.
The Fazenda staff are a wealth of knowledge on local secrets, including restaurants, markets and activities - they'll even draw you a map if you ask nicely.