Melissa Porter recharges her batteries on the Lisbon coast, immersing herself in stunning architecture and wellbeing
Tatler magazine awarded The Oitavos five-star hotel in Cascais (the north of Portugal) on the Lisbon coast, the accolade of ‘the place to be seen’. I swear Roger Federer was sporting lion-embroidered Gucci slippers as I stepped into their chic steel lift. The elegant hotel front desk brigade refused to confirm or deny my inquisition. Situated 20 minutes from the hip scene of Lisbon, ten minutes from the cool crowd in Cascais and just a two-hour 50-minute direct flight from Manchester via Tap airlines, The Oitavos is perched on the Algave’s lesser known area of the west Atlantic coast line within the elegant family-owned estate of Quinta de Marinha – 168 acres of glorious Sintra Cascias National park which had me reminisce about the Hamptons infamous sand dunes and waving grasses.
The iconic hotel building resembles a pulsating fluid steel flowing river of space, punctuated with angular windows that nod towards its use. The building is architecturally hot (as is Portugal in spring time – which is always good to know when Cheshire was simultaneously raining) designed by Portugese architect Jose Amaral Anahory with a minimalistic feel, echoed by lengths of concrete floors tickled by utilitarian full-length voiles in notes of baby blue and crisp whites. All inspired by the hotel’s sea views, I’m guessing. Crisp white organic linen tops the tables, and rooms are dressed in simple and contemporary furniture pieces with fine art sprinkled decadently around. Resplendent of something from Elle Decoration, I observe my vista and imagine this is how a photoshoot in the Hollywood Hills might appear.
The hotel services are bountiful and state-of-the-art. Their 18-hole golf course is ranked in the top 100 links courses around the world. From the course, it’s possible to witness both views of the Atlantic Ocean and also the Sintra mountains, which makes for a unique experience in nature. The course was designed by the renowned Arthur Hills and is a par-71 course and, most famously, hosted the Portugese Open four times.
The hotel gymnasium is a short walk or shuttle bus trip away at the Health and Racket Club, and facilities include state-of-the-art exercise studios, a semi Olympic pool, squash and tennis courts, gym and paddle courts. In addition, there are visually stunning cycle routes around the hotel.
The Oitavos spa was one of my favourite experiences and perfect for anyone wanting to feel pampered. The therapists are world class and I can highly recommend the sea salt and essential oils scrub that left me feeling sparkling and silky smooth.
The Oitavos offers 143 bedrooms and I enjoyed my stay in a superior double loft with a rate that included breakfast. The bedroom was expansive and with a generously sized balcony offering views over the golf course; it was breezy and bright. The design echoed that of the reception and communal areas with streamlined organic parts. The bath appeared to be an extension of the floor and was a seamless single piece. Spacious and surprisingly comfortable for something so ergonomically enhanced. The wardrobes and work space all echoed this same design, and my bed was so wide and luxurious that I was able to sprawl spread-eagle across the width of it and enjoy eight hours of peaceful uninterrupted sleep!
Finally I come to the tastiest part of my magical stay and it’s to mention the variety of food options available, beginning with a breakfast menu that satisfied all my gluten, dairy and wheat-free fantasies and which included lashings of Lisbon’s famous custard tart; pasteis de nata and was presented like a pretty picture. Ipsylon is the hotel’s main restaurant that sees their celebrity chef working with local fishermen to source fresh fish for his dishes. The menu is a visual feast and I’d highly recommend sampling it all as I’ve never experienced such sublime and unique flavour combinations. There’s also a hip sushi bar and a decedent chef’s table experience, both of which seemed popular and lively.
For anyone who wants to sightsee, the surrounding area is ripe with picture-perfect castles and panoramic vistas and for fun I’d suggest you hire a Moke Buddy Tour. Ask for Nuno to show you around the area. You won’t regret this and I’m not going to spoil your surprise with any more details. Enjoy!