The incredible Conrad Algarve - hotel review
If Julien has a happy place, then it is at the side of a swimming pool.
Me, a little less so. While I’m equally content to while away a few hours poolside with a good book, I generally prefer a more active kind of break-away. Nor is the pool itself much of a draw for me – serving for a cool down during the worst of the day’s heat, but not too much else.
Not so my husband, for whom the ‘holiday with a pool’ has an almost mythical appeal. He is rarely happier than when he gets to spend his day to-ing and fro-ing between the water and the sun lounger.
And so it was that, in desperate need of a holiday reset both physical and mental, we found ourselves in Portugal in late-September at the Conrad Algarve hotel, thanks to a good deal thrown up by the vagaries of the Covid-19 epidemic.
The Conrad Algarve hotel is set in the upmarket Quinta do Lago area of Portugal's Algarve coast, near Almancil. It is perfectly located for Faro airport, which is a less than 20 minutes’ drive away. With a flight time from the UK of only 2 ½ hours, you could easily hop on a plane after breakfast and be sipping drinks by the Conrad’s pool for lunch!
Speaking of pools – at the Conrad hotel there are 4 of them: 2 outdoor pools, uniformly lovely, one of which is slightly heated and frequented by cocktailing couples. The other, further into the grounds and surrounded by day beds, also has a kids splash pool and kids play area alongside and so tends to attract the families. Every time we would seat ourselves by one of these pools a staff member would promptly appear, bottles of water and an ice bucket in hand, and ready to adjust our parasols or take any drinks orders.
Elsewhere there is an indoor pool, where exercise classes are available and where kids are also allowed. And finally, there is a small heated infinity pool in the spa area of the Conrad, complimentary for hotel guests while kid-free.
Of course, lovely pools notwithstanding, it would be a pity to miss out on those postcard-perfect Algarve beaches. The Conrad hotel is not situated directly on the beach however, but is a quick 15-minute drive from the long golden sands of the Praia Quinta do Lago. Further along the beach the Conrad has a private area with parasols reserved for guests, to which the hotel also runs a shuttle. At the beach the freebies end though – the sun loungers are not complimentary, and we thought the (September off-peak) €25 cost for a day bed a cheeky price to charge given the hotel accommodation already comes with a hefty price tag.
Accommodation – bedrooms at the Conrad Algarve
Being part of the Hilton hotel chain’s ‘Luxury’ category of brands, the rooms at the Conrad are modern and stylish. They are also not stingy with space – even the entry-level ‘Deluxe’ room which we found ourselves in was comfortably spacious, and came with a large balcony perfect for settling down for those sunset drinks. The en-suite bathrooms are equally spacious, including both bath and shower.
Conrad Algarve Facilities
Facilities at the Conrad hotel include everything you would expect from a luxury 5* property. We’ve mentioned the pools, all of which are great, as well as the kids pool and play area. There is also a kids club available at the Conrad, for parents who would like a bit of relaxation while their kids are entertained.
There is an on-site gym for use by guests, which offers exercise classes including things like yoga and pool workouts, which can be booked though are not complimentary. And tucked away amongst the gardens of the Conrad hotel there is a well-maintained tennis court.
And last but certainly not least there is the hotel’s spa. With both indoor and outdoor pools, relaxation areas and wet rooms, it is a tranquil space to spend some time in. We also tried out some of the facial therapies at the spa, and while the prices were as elevated as you’d expect at this kind of hotel, the treatments themselves were blissful and professional.
In addition to all of the above, the Conrad will also organise various experiences and excursions around the local area for those interested in a more active holiday of discovery, as well as anyone keen to play a round of golf on one of the many top-notch courses in the vicinity.
Conrad Algarve bar and restaurants
One of the highlights of staying at the Conrad is the outstanding food and drink on offer. We were offered a welcome cocktail by the hotel – their signature gin and cucumber refresher – and it was delicious. So much so that we ordered it again the next night!
The hotel also has 2 restaurants, both of them excellent:
Louro is the main restaurant at the Conrad, where breakfasts as well as relaxed lunches and dinners are served - either in the indoor space or on the outdoor terrace overlooking the pool.
Where many hotel breakfast buffets can so often be mediocre and uninspiring, at the Conrad the breakfast was exemplary. Everything from the fresh fruits and organic yoghurts, through the cheese plates and cold meats, to the hot breakfast offerings was delicious. Not to mention the daily breakfast desserts with offerings like pancakes or mini-canelés. And of course Portugal’s pièce de résistance – every other day or so a tray of freshly baked nata custard tarts would appear – still hot and melt-in-your-mouth amazing!
We also had lunch a couple of times in the Louro restaurant during our hotel stay, and each time the food was fresh and interesting, and we thought reasonably priced for the quality.
Gusto by Heinz Beck
The more formal of the 2 restaurants, Gusto is the Conrad hotel’s signature restaurant, and it does not disappoint. Everything we ate here during our dinner, from the pre-starters through the various tasting menu courses and the desserts was gorgeously presented, interesting and creative, and a pleasure to eat. It is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the best restaurants in the Algarve.
Final review of the Conrad Algarve
There is that moment, as you first turn into the entrance to the Conrad Algarve hotel and drive up the magnificent esplanade, processions of palm trees and water fountains to either side, where you realise that you’re arriving at a really impressive property. You hand your car keys to one of the eternally cheerful valets – who will in the days to follow often greet you by name, in what is just one more sign of the incredible service offered throughout by the wonderful staff – and make your way into the light-filled hotel, surrounded by pieces of art and views out over the beautiful pools, to begin what is sure to be a memorable stay.
The Conrad Algarve is a luxury Hilton hotels property, and it shows. From the comfortably appointed rooms and the stunning hotel grounds, to the warmly personable staff and the amazing food, this was one of those rare hotel stays where everything was absolutely incredible, and we really cannot recommend the Conrad hotel highly enough.