During a recent trip to Portugal my friend and I stayed at Vila Monte Farm House, located in rural Moncarapacho, in Portugal’s Olhão municipality.
Set off the beaten track in amongst nine hectares of orange groves and manicured gardens, overlooking the Algarve’s countryside and mountains, it’s the ideal location for those who want to “escape” while on holiday.
After a busy few weeks, we were in much need of a relaxing holiday. Following a twenty minute taxi ride from Faro airport, we passed through the hotel gates, drove up the winding path through an olive grove and arrived at reception. A handsome young Portuguese man greeted us, offering herbal teas while we checked in.
The decor is inspired by traditional Portuguese architecture, with whitewashed walls, terracotta chimneys and natural woods. The concept behind the resort is boho-chic with a “timeless simplicity”.
The Lobby area is a huge multi-functional open space which is the heart of the hotel. Designed for socialising, there is a large fire-pit at the centre and a long cool white bar topped with a variety of different spirits.
Guests gather around here in the evenings to watch movies together or read in the Library while enjoying cocktails from the bar. Film sessions are organised every evening and during the summer months an open-air cinema is held in the gardens.
After a guided tour of the hotel, we were taken to our room. We stayed in number 10, a Double Superior which had lovely views looking out at gorgeous bright pink bougainvillea. The room was a mix of crisp white bedding, furniture made from driftwood with pops of colour.
The interiors were designed by Vera Iachia, who has worked with Andy Warhol and Jacques Grange. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful hotels I have stayed in and was clearly designed with total relaxation and comfort in mind. We also had our own little private terrace area which was the perfect place to sit just before sunset.
Each of the 55 guest rooms has its own beach basket with towels, hats and umbrellas for use during your stay. The hotel will even prepare a picnic for guests to take on day trips. Guests can also take part in fishing trips to the Ria Formosa, horseback riding, seafood tasting and trips to the local Olhão market to buy produce with the chef from the hotel.
Despite all of the activities on offer, we decided on something a bit more challenging…. choosing between which of the two pools we would plonk ourselves by.
Our days at Vila Monte were spent lying in the sun, ploughing our way through good books and drinking local wine. Total bliss!
On the rare occasion that we did want to try something a little more adventurous, we borrowed the hotel’s bicycles to cycle around the grounds, narrowly missing crashing into the citrus trees.
A highlight of our stay was the delicious food. There are two restaurants, Laranjal and À Terra, both focus on farm-to-plate homely yet healthy food.
The hotel even has its own grocery store which sells a selection of local produce from the Algarve region ranging from olive oils, cheeses, spirits as well as crockery and kitchen goods. The idea being that this strengthens the relationship with the community and, most importantly, local farmers.
Breakfast was made up of a wide selection of breads, warm pastries, homemade jams and yoghurts with fresh fruit as well as cooked eggs and meats. Made all the more enjoyable while enjoying the stunning views across the mountain range.
The lunchtime and evening food is designed for sharing and is mostly cooked in a traditional wood oven or Josper grill (conceived by two Catalonian’s to bring out the foods best flavours over a charcoal grill).
The freshly baked breads, bruschetta and wood fired pizzas were incredible. The menu is based on homemade, rustic food using the freshest local ingredients, many of which are grown in Vila Monte's own grounds.
The hotel has its own aromatic garden filled with herbs and vegetables as well as an orange grove and olive trees where ingredients are grown to be used in the restaurant. Guests are encouraged to wander through the gardens picking mint leaves to take back to their room to make refreshing peppermint teas.
However, our favourite choice of drink was undoubtedly the wine, most of which comes from local vineyards. I’m not much of a white wine drinker but our lovely waiter recommended we tried a bottle of Beyra which was incredible, especially when sipped poolside!
Vila Monte was the perfect place to stay, the service we received throughout was fantastic, the staff were all genuinely helpful. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an escape to Portugal! It is a little oasis of calm away from the Algarve's touristy beach resorts. That being said, the beach is just 10 minutes away if you do fancy some sand, but the hotel has created a feeling of seclusion and total relaxation that you’ll never want to leave.
Despite being fully booked while we were there, we never felt that we were in amongst a crowd and at times felt like we had the whole resort to ourselves. If you’re looking for a tranquil retreat in the sun with great food and wine, this is the place!
*Cocktail Saturdays was a guest of Vila Monte Farm House.