Fazenda Nova Country House, Algarve - hotel review
Updated: Jan 4, 2021
We sit on the outside terrace of our bedroom facing the surrounding gardens as the sun slowly sets, the only sounds those of the wind whispering through the trees while birds call out to each other. It's one of those balmy evenings that the Mediterranean countries serve up so effortlessly in early-autumn - warm but not too sultry.
While we sip our Portuguese wine from the Fazenda Nova bar, the sounds of nighttime insects increasing around us, we reflect on our stay on Portugal's Algarve coast, and especially our last few days at the Fazenda Nova Country House hotel.
Everything about this lovely hotel property is considered - but in a way that feels comfortable and natural.
Tastefully considered, mind you. This traditional Portuguese farmhouse has been entirely and beautifully revamped, and the resulting individual rooms are decorated in a style that feels modern, bucolic and of-the-moment chic. So much so that it has been featured in publications from the Evening Standard and Elle magazine to Architectural Digest, as well as having won a suite of travel awards, including being named European Country Hotel of the Year by the prestigious World Luxury Hotels Awards.
But right this moment it is not architecture or design that occupies our minds, but the gift of a holiday on Portugal's stunning Algarve coast and the pleasure of being surrounded by the beauty of nature.
Fazenda Nova Country House
A few days before we had made our way over to the Fazenda Nova Country House, having checked out from our earlier local accommodation - the wonderful Conrad Algarve hotel.
Soon exiting the motorway, we found ourselves driving through countryside that felt a world away from the glitzy Quinta do Lago resorts we'd just left behind. Situated less than 10km from the coast, and a not-quite 30 minutes' drive from nearby Faro airport, the landscape around Fazenda Nova felt like Portugal-proper.
Narrow country lanes hemmed in by walls of stones piled high led us through one-horse towns, residents smoking in the doorways of local businesses or sitting on the terraces of authentic-looking eateries. Nary a tourist in sight. We passed abandoned rural homes - slowly crumbling and being reclaimed by nature, random olive trees dotted about - sat next to gorgeous whitewashed villas, picture-perfect holiday abodes, a profusion of pink and purple bougainvilleas surrounding their doorways.
Pulling into the Fazenda Nova driveway - the wheels of our car crunching over the white gravel stones that decorate the pathways throughout the property - we were warmly welcomed by the hotel owners and shown to our accommodation for the next few nights.
The rooms at Fazenda Nova have been beautifully decorated in earthy shades and kitted out with natural furniture. We loved the mix of old and new - the lovingly restored farmhouse chairs or a towel rack made from reclaimed driftwood, together with unique flea market finds that are interspersed with modern light fixtures and cosy bedding. In the bathroom is a large rain shower, comfy bathrobes and - a delight for any fan of natural skincare - a range of REN cleansing products.
We had booked one of the Garden View rooms, all of which have their own private terraces that look out over the landscaped gardens. One of our favourite things about our stay at Fazenda Nova was returning after a day out exploring the local areas and sitting outside on our room terrace, taking in the gorgeous gardens or reading a book in companionable silence.
Fazenda Nova is a tranquil haven that feels perfect for a relaxed grown-up breakaway. Certainly during our visit there weren't any children about that we could see - our fellow guests all other couples on a romantic local stay - and from what we can tell children might only be able stay during certain school holiday periods of the year.
Having unpacked, we decided to go exploring...
The gardens at Fazenda Nova are one of the most special parts of the 10-acre property. They have been beautifully and thoughtfully landscaped, the chalky gravel pathways flanked by lush hedgerows leading to rugged open spaces, or to hidden nooks perfect for holing up to take in the peace and quiet. Everywhere are signs of the abundant fruitfulness of southern Portugal: the gardens dotted with pomegranate and quince trees heavy with their delicious-looking autumn fruits, or orchards dedicated to olive and almond trees.
Elsewhere is a herb and vegetable garden, which provides fresh produce to hotel's kitchen. And tucked away behind the main farmhouse is the outdoor swimming pool area, with plenty of sun loungers as well as large day beds in a tropical white sandy 'beach' area. The pool itself is a chemical-free salt water one that adds to the eco-credentials of the hotel.
Food and drink
In normal times, the hotel has a well-regarded restaurant serving simple and fresh dishes often made with produce straight from their own gardens. Restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 epidemic meant that the restaurant was not serving dinner during our stay, although the kitchen did happily whip us up a ham and cheese toasty on request for an afternoon snack one day.
Breakfast was served on a covered outdoor patio overlooking the gardens. The food was simple, fresh and plentiful, including fruits, yoghurts and mueslis as well as some basic eggs and toast.
The hotel has a bar and a cosy-looking indoor lounge area too, although from what we could tell most guests preferred to enjoy their drinks outside their rooms or in the gardens to make the most of the surroundings.
Set in the rolling countryside of the Eastern Algarve, in addition to being easily accessible from Faro airport the Fazenda Nova Country House is also close to some stunning beaches and Unesco-protected wildlife areas, including the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
A quick drive away is the charming small city of Tavira, replete with tiny alleyways filled with local artisan shops to discover. There are romantic walks along the boardwalk to be had, and authentic Portuguese restaurants to eat in.
Not far away is the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Santa Luzia, a delightful local fishing town famous for its octopus.
And taking a walk across the boardwalk spanning the Tavira Canal and through the nature reserve that follows (or hop on the miniature train that does the route) will lead to the beach of Praia do Barril, with its laid-back holiday eateries and its anchor graveyard.
Final review of Fazenda Nova Country House
With only just over a dozen rooms, any stay at Fazenda Nova is always going to be an intimate one, in what is a small and traditional luxury boutique property.
The architecture is stylish, the interiors have been gorgeously remodeled, and the surrounding gardens and grounds are vibrant and beautiful.
The Fazenda Nova Country House is a haven, a place to switch off and relax by the pool or around the lovely estate. Located on Portugal's Eastern Algarve coast but tucked away in the rural countryside, away from the usual throng of holidaymakers, this is the real Algarve - a welcoming hotel that feels both modern and authentic, as well as full of local charm.