Areias do Seixo, Santa Cruz, Portugal

Beachside, bohemian and unapologetically bewitching, this wildly beautiful boutique stay might just be the most romantic bolthole in Portugal.

pine groves, rushing waves and the gentle shiver of
wind-whipped sands provide the soundtrack to Portugal’s Costa de
Prata (Silver Coast) – a quietly beguiling stretch of Atlantic
coastline that’s just a 40-minute drive from Lisbon, and home to
enchanting boutique hotel Areias do

Dreamed up by owners Gonçalo and Marta Fonseca as an ode to
love, the 20-key hotel (made up of 15 individually designed rooms
and 19 self-catering villas) stretches across seven hectares, yet,
amazingly, still manages to feel blissfully intimate. The exterior
is a modernist vision – all glass and polished concrete – with
futuristic lines cleverly juxtaposed against a backdrop of
shape-shifting, bleached-blonde dunes. Enter through the heavy,
steel-studded wooden door – the sort you might stumble across in a
Moroccan medina – and you’ll be greeted by a vast open-plan
reception. Bedecked with shabby-chic furniture, log fires and
floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s the kind of space that would make
both architecture aficionados and interior design buffs swoon in

This quirky, rustic feel runs like a thread throughout the
entire hotel: there are mystical lanterns that hang in the moody
spa, bare wooden floorboards in the hallways that blur the lines
between indoors and out and seductive soft furnishings at every
turn, including sheepskin throws draped across low-slung driftwood
chairs in the bedrooms. Of course, these details all make for a
deliciously comfortable stay. But, dreamy aesthetics aside (and
we’re certainly not complaining), it’s actually the atmosphere
we’ll be coming back for next time, and the time after that. Why?
Because not only will the owners remember you by name, they’ll also
remember your favourite song – and play it to you around the
campfire (Gonçalo and Marta gather guests around a firepit each
evening for wine and song as the sun goes down). Peaceful,
laid-back and refreshingly down-to-earth, Areias do Seixo plants a
pole in the sand for design-conscious hospitality with a whole lot
of heart.

Seaview at Arieas do Seixo
Areias do Seixo Exterior


Featuring one of four design themes – Gold, Land, Tree or Love –
each room has been artfully decorated according to its own unique
character. Our favourite is Nha Cretcheu, which means “sweetheart”
in Creole (Marta’s mother hails from Cape Verde). Graced with an
elevated four-poster bed hewn from driftwood found just outside,
the bedroom has a suspended log burner complete with a stash of
logs, widescreen windows that lead to a private sea-facing patio, a
sumptuous, cloud-like outdoor shower and swimmable indoor whirlpool

Set back from the main property, villas include the
three-bedroom Townhouse, which has its own outdoor plunge pool, and
four-bedroom Villa Blue Superior – complete with its own
breath-stealing rooftop terrace. Then, secreted away in the shadow
of the dunes, there’s the hotel’s crowning jewel, Shelter – a
see-it-to-believe-it tented idyll suspended over a private lake.
Honeymooners, this is your spot.

Bedroom at Areias do Seixo
Bathroom at Areias do Seixo

What’s for breakfast?

Served from the open kitchen in the hotel’s light-filled dining
area, breakfast comprises an impressive buffet of local cheeses,
hams, seasonal fruits, fresh-out-the-oven bread and homemade jams,
as well as straight-from-the-coop eggs, cooked to order.

How about lunch and dinner?

Crafted around the bounty of the kitchen garden, lunch and
dinner menus are unfussy and seasonally focused: think baked
potato-sized mussels, wild mushroom stews and eucalyptus sorbet
with orange from the Algarve. Chef André Jesus has a particular
flair for charcoal grilling – don’t miss his Iberian black pork,
sizzled to perfection over open flames.

Is there a bar?

Yes, in the same, airy space as the reception and dining area.
Distinguished by invitingly slouchy armchairs and an open fire,
it’s the place to come for intricate, herb-infused cocktails,
served from 1pm until late. Pull up a deckchair outside and watch
the sun go down to the beat of bossa nova-influenced jazz.

Areias do Seixo
Areias do Seixo

What are the hotel’s eco-credentials like?

Admirable. Sustainability was built into Areias do Seixo’s DNA
from the get-go. The property is kitted out with solar panels and
runs on geothermal energy, most furniture is made from repurposed
local timber and air conditioning is eschewed in favour of natural
ventilation. Needless to say, you’ll find no single-use plastics in
sight, and all food is either grown on site or sourced as locally
as possible (catch anything from the sea and the chef will happily
cook it up for your next meal).

How about amenities?

Step into the sanctuary-like, stone-grey spa for a sauna,
Turkish bath or massage, or take a culture trip to the hotel’s
cinema room, which is stocked with over 90 titles and an
overflowing larder of homemade snacks. Outside, there’s a decked
area and infinity pool that melts into the horizon, with bikes
available to borrow from reception should you get the urge to
explore the area on two wheels.

What about accessibility?

All rooms are at ground level, so most of the hotel is entirely
accessible by wheelchair, but there’s also a lift, should it be

What’s the crowd like?

Loved-up, mostly – although it’s not in your face at all. Single
travellers are welcome, as are families, with children aged 10 and
over allowed in the pool between 9am and 12pm, accompanied by an

Within a short walk I can find…

Sand – and lots of it. Aside from the breathtaking beaches,
there’s not much to see within a short walk of the hotel, but if
it’s a taste of local life you’re after, then hop on a bike and
pedal into the nearest village, Santa Cruz – around a 10-minute
ride away.

Things I should know…

Book ahead. Although this stretch of Portugal’s coast is less
crowded than other parts, Areias do Seixo is fast gaining legendary
status on the boutique circuit, so you’ll be jostling for rooms
with the repeat visitors who make an annual pilgrimage back to its
special sands.

The Lowdown

Doubles cost from £263 a night on a B&B basis.

Discover More
Five Beautiful Farm Stays in Portugal to Visit this Summer