The Big Six: Portuguese retreats

Luxury escapism, olive groves and natural lagoons

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The Independent Travel

Areias do Seixo Povoa de Penafirme

Areias do Seixo is a low-impact luxury property tucked behind sand dunes above Praia do Seixo, an hour's drive from Lisbon. Each of the 14 rooms and four villas has real "wow" factor, combining driftwood, stone and glass with metal and polished concrete to striking effect. There's an Ayurvedic spa and a restaurant serving organic produce from the garden – plus exceptionally friendly owners.

Areias do Seixo, Povoa de Penafirme, A-dos-Cunhados, Torres Vedras, Lisbon (00 351 261 936 340; Doubles start at €265, including breakfast.

Vila Joya Albufeira

With a two-Michelin-starred restaurant and an Asian-inspired spa, Vila Joya represents escapism of the highest order. Standing above Praia da Gale, amid tropical gardens and bougainvillea, it contains 12 luxury rooms and eight suites, all of which face the crashing Atlantic waves. A fire is lit each night in the living room, making it a cosy and relaxing corner in which to sink a drink before delving into chef Dieter Koschina's adventurous northern European menu.

Vila Joya, Praia da Gale, Albufeira, Algarve (00 351 289 591795; Doubles from €315, B&B.


Fazenda Nova Tavira

Fazenda Nova is a renovated Portuguese farmhouse brought bang up to date. The 10 suites have Balinese-style beds and Egyptian cotton sheets, while bathrooms have Hansgrohe monsoon showers and REN products. The decor mixes contemporary with reclaimed materials and antiques sourced on the owners' travels. Cool off in the outdoor salt-water pool, meander among olive, almond and carob groves, or laze in a cool hammock pod.

Fazenda Nova, Estiramantens, Santo Estevao, Tavira, Algarve (00 351 281 961 913; Doubles start at €155, including breakfast.


Imani Evora

The perfect place to switch off and soak up some Alentejo country air. Imani ("believing" in Swahili) sits amid a landscape dotted with megalithic stones, 10 minutes from the city of Evora, a World Heritage Site. Once a working farm, the house now offers five suites and two rooms, each of which are light, stylish and full of eye-catching pieces. Wine tasting is also offered, guided by award-winning vintner Paulo Laureano.

Imani, Quinta de Montemuro, Guadalupe, Evora, Alentejo (00 351 925 613 847; Doubles start at €135, including breakfast.


Casa do Rio Vez Couto

Wild swimmers will rejoice at this peaceful riverside hideaway at the entrance to the Peneda-Geres National Park. The crystal-clear river Vez runs right through the garden and there's also an outdoor pool and 300m of natural lagoons. Owned by an architect and his wife, this former olive press turned boutique B&B has four contemporary rooms and a self-catering loft with large windows overlooking the wooded riverbank.

Casa do Rio Vez, Couto, Arcos de Valdevez, Viana do Castelo, Minho Lima (00 351 258 526 078; Doubles start at €68, including breakfast.


Muxima Aljezur

This rustic guesthouse stands on the edge of the Costa Vicentina National Park. Surrounded by fruit trees with a natural swimming pool in the garden, it's a blissfully serene spot. Owners Sofia and Jorge, who live on site, were inspired by their own travels – around Africa, Asia and South America – when decorating the three rooms and four suites split between two houses. Each is named after one of their favourite places. Surfers have their pick of top beaches nearby.

Muxima, Montes Ferreiros, Aljezur, Algarve (00 351 916 012 830; Doubles start at €80, including breakfast.