Well worth considering if going to the Algarve, especially if you want to avoid the busier locations. This is a large and modern hotel with many rooms enjoying views across the yacht marina and Ria Formosa to sea. We booked a suite with sea view and were delighted with the huge corner suite on the fourth (top) floor. While perhaps not as luxuriously decorated or furnished as some we have enjoyed this was certainly one of the largest we have ever stayed in. Simply styled in white and muted shades of brown the suite came with two separate bathrooms, one with both bath and shower the other with a large drench shower. The separate lounge area is larger than in many modern houses and is equipped with couch, table and four dining-style chairs, desk, fridge and wall-mounted tv. A minor issue would be that the tv is a little small for today's tastes especially when viewing from the couch. The bedroom is even larger with very large bed, dressing table unit, wardrobe etc (additional wardrobe/drawer storage is available off the hallway). Temperatures can be separately controlled in each main room and controls are straightforward. Here too there is a wall-mounted tv with a good number of channels including main terrestrial UK channels. Again the tv is perhaps a bit small. Ceiling to floor patio doors in both the lounge and bedroom give great views and access to the large balcony which stretches the length of the suite. Full length curtains give a good degree of blackout at night. Sound insulation is not, however, total though we did not find noise a problem.
Breakfasts were average for the familiar buffet arrangement now used by so many hotels.
We stayed on a B&B basis and were glad we'd retained the option of using local cafes and restaurants for most meals. Off-season as our stay was these were often pitifully quiet. On the two nights we dined in the main hotel restaurant we found the food mostly good and though more expensive than in town still good value. The disappointment was the vegetarian lasagne which was more liquid than solid and with few vegetables. However, on complaining it was removed from the bill. The jazz guitarist playing one night was good as was the Fado singer and guitarists on another night though they started late and were quick to take breaks.
Staff were very helpful and friendly. Admittedly we were staying off-season and the hotel was quiet, but nonetheless they explained well and helped provide answers to our requests. Service in the dining room on the nights we dined was friendly, polite and efficient. Staff are a real asset to the hotel.
The town is easily reached in less than 10 minutes stroll. There is a long, flat, promenade which takes you past the marina. Cycle hire is available. Olhao off-season is quiet as is the Real Marina. In town, market Saturday apart, there is a sense of emptiness among the cafes and restaurants. This is not unique to Olhao; Faro and Tavira both were much quieter than in peak season on our day visits. This has advantages but the lack of a 'buzz' may not suit everyone. The market in Olhao on Saturdays is lively and good fun. Faro and Tavira are easily accessible by train at amazingly cheap prices. The railway is rather run-down but the trains we took were internally clean enough and we enjoyed the views over water, through vineyards and orange groves. Olhao has a modern, very attractive, arts centre/auditorium which stages musical events and art exhibitions. It is walkable from the Real Marina and the concert we attended was high quality.
Niggles: this is another 5 star hotel that charges for wi-fi. The Vodafone cards are not that expensive but the very fact that the hotel charges guests at all is very annoying, especially as several cafes in town provide it free. There is no kettle or tea/coffee making facility in the room.
We thought the Real Marina represented excellent value for money. We would also wish to record our appreciation of the Champagne, fruit and pastries sent up to our suite on arrival - a lovely start to the holiday.
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- Also Known As:
- Real Marina Hotel And Spa
- Real Marina Hotel Olhao