IN ASSOCIATION WITH JUNTO DO TURISMO DA COSTA DO ESTORIL

24-Hour Room Service: Farol Design Hotel, Cascais

Built on an exposed outcrop as close to the pounding breakers as any architect would dare, this hotel is an imaginative attempt to introduce bold, contemporary style to a courtly 19th-century mansion whose time had passed. Converted to a hotel in 1974, the Farol was radically remodelled five years ago to gain admission to an exclusive club: it is one of only five designer hotels in the country.

LOCATION

Farol Design Hotel, Av. Rei Humberto II de Italia 7, Cascais, Portugal (00 351 21 482 3490; www.cascais.org).

Farol is Portuguese for lighthouse, and a fine example is perched on a cliff 200 metres away, guarding the approaches to Cascais Marina. The Farol's private balconies and public terraces reach out towards a salt-water pool hidden among the rocks. The lovely, car-free historical centre of Cascais is a five-minute walk away.

Time from international airport: Cascais is about 35km from Lisbon airport, and at all but peak times it can be reached in under half an hour by road. A shuttle bus service connects the two.

COMFORTABLE?

Old-fashioned cosiness is sacrificed in the interests of design, with soft, white pillows tucked away in the wardrobes lest they undermine the clean lines and sense of space. Eleven interior designers were each given one room to dress. The result is mixed, but never dull. Minimalism and white space is set against deep red and black drapery; venerable beams are cheek by jowl with steel and glass. In one bedroom, the table legs spell the word amor, Portuguese for "love"; in another, a plaster female nude emerges from the wall like a ghost. The remaining 23 rooms are earmarked for similar treatment soon.

Freebies: Fresh fruit in the room and a range of Molton Brown toiletries.

Keeping in touch: All rooms have satellite TV and both wireless and plug-in facilities for broadband internet.

THE BOTTOM LINE

In high season (June until mid-September), double rooms start from €250 (£173), including buffet breakfast. The designer rooms, which all have sea-facing balconies, cost €370 (£264).

I'm not paying that: At the colonial style Hotel Inglaterra (Rua do Porto 1, Estoril; 00 351 214 684 461; www.hotelinglaterra.com.pt) a double room, with breakfast, costs €111 (£77).

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