I was very pleasantly surprised by this hotel. We had previously stayed at the Villa Gale near the salt flats, but this hotel had everything that the other more expensive hotel has. The only drawback might be for less mobile people as it is at the top of a hill. The biggest plus point is that the bar is on the top floor and provides fantastic panoramic views over the town.
We stayed there during Christmas week. The bed was a little hard for me, but I often find that. I rectified it by sleeping on top of the blankets and under a sheet - the room was constantly kept warm and I never felt at all cold. The rooms are a reasonable size with plenty of drawer and wardrobe space, I think they were pretty much the same size as the Vila Gale. The bathroom is fine though I noticed some signs of wear and tear, but given the financial crisis in Portugal at the moment I assumed that this hotel might not be the only one trying to keep a check on its expenditure. Always plenty of hot water, a good shower and bath, but no hair dryer. You can probably get one from reception. The rooms were cleaned every day, including Christmas Day. For news, we accessed CNN and Al Jazeera on the TV, which was a pleasant surprise as the last few times we've stayed Vila Gale we couldn't get any English-speaking channels.
The hotel does have wifi, but they charge for it. There are also two pcs in the hotel lounge, but again these are not free. In the rooms, I found only two places to plug in and recharge my phone and there were no direct sockets for a pc connection. Neither was there a plug connection in the bathroom for electric shavers.
The balcony was bigger than those Vila Gale, ours faced the swimming pool and down into town with the sea in the distance. It caught the sun in the morning and most of the day. The room certainly felt light and airy.
Breakfasts were plentiful and included fruit juice, cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurt, croissants, cooked eggs and bacon etc, cheese and sausage fillings for rolls, toast, and unlimited hot drinks from the machine. The staff were efficient and friendly.
I didn't use the health club facilities, which includes an indoor pool, but these were free – unlike the Villa Gale. There was live music in the bar several nights that we were there. You could sit inside or outside in the fresh air, which was warm enough even if December. The hotel also runs excursions, but we didn't take any so can't comment.
I know some people have commented that they found this hotel disappointing, but you get what you pay for. This doesn't pretend to be an aparthotel, so room size and facilities will never be extensive but are more than adequate. The reception staff were efficient and spoke good English and printed off some bus timetables for our onward journey to Vilamoura when we asked them for advice.
Location-wise, the Porta Nova is conveniently situated close to the bus station (cross the river at the new bridge, straight across the road and continue up the hill (it's at the top). A five minute walk at the most assuming normal walking pace. The hill is steep but quite short. To go into town, you walk downhill on the pool side of the hotel, either using the curving road towards the church or the direct less-used straight road down along the side of the field into town. You come out by the pretty square dominated by the church. This is the less touristy part of town, but also the part with the most of the best restaurants (try aquasun, jamie's, the patio or the one with seats outside on the corner of that square). Both the Indians are quite good too. A walk around this part of town won't take you long, and there are some nice shops on this side as well as the more touristy side.
It takes a minute to walk from here over to the other side of town. You can cross the river via the roman bridge (which leads to the central square with its entertainments, old town and museum, cinema and more shops), or the footbridge which leads to the old market building, where you'll find more restaurants and shops. There's a nice restaurant in the old roman town, which has splendid views and excellent food. I've not eaten or stayed at the posada, but it's also been highly recommended.
The train station is about a 20 minute walk from the town centre, so if you're coming to Tavira by public transport I recommend that you take the bus.
Rooms facing the outdoor pool are bright and sunny. They also have a good view over the town.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.