This was our first trip to Portugal and we stayed at the Luna Alvor Village Hotel at the end of June / beginning of July. The hotel is bright, airy and very modern. We found all the staff very friendly, helpful and polite, which seems to be the case with most Portuguese people we met.
The hotel has a nice swimming pool that was cleaned and checked regularly although there was a shortage of sun beds and only about half of them had umbrellas. This was not a problem for us as we prefer the beach, but if you like to sit by the pool get up early to put your towels out.
Our room on the second floor was really nice, with a lounge dining area along with a well equipped kitchen area, although all we used was the fridge for drinks and the kettle. Although the room was open plan the bedroom was separated slightly due to the room being L shaped and had ample wardrobe space (a few more clothes hangers would have been good). There was air conditioning in the lounge and the bedroom, which was needed as the temperature was well into the 30’s. We also had a lovely large private balcony with views to the sea in the distance that was accessed by two patio doors, one in the lounge and the other in the bedroom. The bathroom was a good size, modern with a shower over a spa bath. One thing to mention is that unlike some hotels, during our 10 day stay we never heard any noise from other rooms so we slept really well.
We stayed on a bed and breakfast basis and the breakfast was really nice, with plenty of choice of both hot and cold food that should satisfy everyone. As with the rest of the hotel the dining room was modern, bright and airy.
The hotel is a little bit out of the way, which we knew when we booked and we like walking, so didn’t bother us to much. It is a good 10 – 15 minutes walk to the resort centre, but a good 25 – 30 minutes walk to the beach, which can be hard work in the heat, although the hotel does have a courtesy mini bus that runs through the day. The location does mean that the area around the hotel is very peaceful and quite.
Alvor has a fabulous beach of soft golden sand that stretches for miles. The beach is very wide and there are lots of sun beds and umbrellas all the way along, but most people seem to bring their own chairs or just towels and sit on the sand between the sun beds and the sea. This meant that it was reasonably quite around the sun beds, which cost €10 a day for 2 beds and an umbrella.
The resort centre is a lovely old fishing village with lots of narrow lanes to explore. The layout of the resort centre does mean that there is a good atmosphere and it is buzzing in the evening. There are lots of bars and restaurants that should provide something for everyone. However as the lanes are narrow, the bars and restaurants can be quite compact, which means you don’t get much space when the resort is busy. Due to this the bars don’t have much outside seating and there is not much room or facilities for children, as a result we saw quite a lot of bored and tired looking children. There is a good mix of bars, quite a few with good live music, some with DJ’s until the early ours for the younger generation and some nice quiet relaxing bars. With space being limited and restaurants trying to get as many customers in as possible some of the tables were only 2 – 3 inches apart so you didn’t get much privacy (ok if you don’t mind being squashed in like sardines).
I feel I must mention a couple of restaurants that we were disappointed with:
Ababuja at the harbour square. I ordered fish soup for a starter, which didn’t arrive. When the main courses were brought out I asked where my starter was and was told they had forgotten it. The waitress put down the main course and walked away. To make things worse the food was barely warm and the vegetables were so hard and undercooked that my fish knife couldn’t cut them into small enough pieces to eat (if I’d had my starter they would have had time to cook the food properly!).
O Alcaide in the village. We ordered the Bread, cheese and sardine pate as a starter, the sardine pate came in a tiny plastic sealed tub (like the ones used for butter and jam in hotels) and reminded me of Shiphams fish paste, not very nice. I ordered sirloin steak Algarve style and when asked how I would like my steak cooked I asked for it medium. It arrived in a dish covered with lots of what I can only describe as gravy, with frozen potato fritters on top (no other vegetables at all). The steak was very tough, overcooked and tasteless; it had obviously been cooked earlier and re-heated. To be fair to the restaurant my wife had chicken piri piri and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Apart from the two restaurants above we found all the other one’s we tried to be very good with fish and seafood being particularly good.
To sum up, this was our first trip to Portugal and we were very impressed. It is a lovely welcoming country and I’m sure we will return. Alvor is a fabulous relaxing resort although it is large and quite spread out with a compact village centre. I would suggest that you need to do your research before booking a holiday here so you get exactly what you want.