Travelling back in time and history is something I really appreciate these days, so we visited the Grand House in Vila Real de Santo Antonia in the Algarve in Portugal. This perfectly renovated house has always been a hotel on the town’s waterfront since 1926.
Since 2019, the hotel also has a beach club just five minutes away by shuttle. The former customs house between Spain and Portugal dates back to 1774.
Vila Real de Santo Antonia is a lively town divided by the Guadiana River on the border between Spain and Portugal. The combination of townhouse, grand hotel and grand beach club, combines the historic city with the pleasure of white dunes.
The Beach Club is perfect for lunch and a get-together with friends, while the natural private beach gives you plenty of space to enjoy the sand and sea, even almost alone in August.
The hotel has 31 rooms, all decorated in colonial style with old prints, white wood panelling and stucco work, as well as many colonial details, antiques and fabrics from the local interior design company White and Khaki.
The building was completely renovated by the municipality with funding from the European Investment Fund, restoring the original design by Swiss-born architect Ernesto Korrodi.
There are many ways to spend a relaxing holiday, such as horse riding on the beach in nearby Tavira and an outdoor spa in neighbouring Castro Marim, where you can enjoy a natural outdoor spa with treatments after rubbing your skin with clay and soaking in the natural salt ponds. Or book a massage in the hotel’s spa room.
The Grand Beach Club with a small private pool invites you to daydream on the terrace or take long walks on the nearby white sandy beaches, where they will provide you with a gift basket of chilled Portuguese wines and water upon request.
Breakfast and dinner are on the first floor in a colonial-style dining room. It is next to the bar, which is oak-panelled and transports you to another time. Don’t forget to spend your morning reading in the library room, where singing birds keep you company.
Dinner is very different from the usual food and wine in the Algarve. I recommend the red mullet fillet and the razor clams from the neighbouring Ria Formosa with a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc from the nearby Doro Valley.
All in all, a perfect two-night getaway away from the Algarve to enjoy the colonial flair of a historic city and relax on the beach or on the sailboat.