My wife and I stayed at Vila Serena in Almadena with our friends, two other couples, for 10 nights at the start of August. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this place, infact it was probably even nicer than I expected. The bedrooms are all big with two of them having balconies, one of which overlooks the pool. The pool area itself is great, with a large barbeque area, table tennis table, around 6-7 sunbeds, lots of inflatables and a large table with chairs. The kitchen is also very big, as is the lounge which also has a TV with most Sky channels (this helped us occasionally keep abrest of the riots back in the UK).
You could easily spend all day by the pool, eating and drinking (this is what we did for many days) but it is also a good base to visit other areas of the Algarve. The village square is a short walk down the hill, around 10 minues, during which you will probably encouter several very friendly dogs. Our favourite was Daisy (who sleeps all day outside the hairdressers) and a chocolate lab who seems to follow you until he gets tired (around 2-3 minutes of walking). In the village there is also a Portugese cafe where you can get coffees, snacks and 1 Euro bottles of cold beer. Don't have a Bifana though as it is basically fried Pork with loads of garlic. It did make me feel a bit sick, although I was very hungover. There is also a small Welsh bar, another snack bar, Broadies steak and pizza house and El Poco - a bar owned by an English couple called Les and Jackie. Les and his wife were extremely helpful throughout our stay, they gave us a taxi contact who we used every day and were pretty much available 24/7 (you might need to pre-book on weekends as they get v busy). The taxis are also very cheap - around 8-9 Euros to Luz, which between 6 of us was good value. El Poco also does food, infact Les kindly cooked us fresh mussels when we told him we were a bit peckish. Les's wife Jackie also kindly took us to the fish market one Saturday morning for us to get fresh fish for a barbeque. There is also a Monday night quiz which we even managed to win a bottle of wine in. The only thing bad to say about Les is his choice of shirts! I think he wears them in an ironic way though, as in "doesn't this really bright flowery shirt look great"?
Twice we ate at Broadies. The first time a couple of our party had 'Fresh Red Snapper' which was far from fresh but to their credit they knocked both dishes off the bill after we complained. The second time we had a boozy lunch and the pizzas etc were very good. They were still advertising "Fresh Red Snapper" by this point, but i'd hazard a guess that it isn't fresh.
The best meal we had out was at O Celerio, across the busy road. The food is fantastic, it is fairly pricey but you do get to drink out of a ginormous brandy glass at the end of your meal. And the waiters are a good laugh, if at first a bit miserable.
Before we travelled we were in two minds about hiring a car. In the end we didn't due to the price it would have been for a car for six. A car would be beneficial for a family if you are staying at Vila Serena but you can easily get by without one. Luz, Lagos and Burgau are worth visting and you get either get a taxi or the local bus.
I've stayed in a few holiday villas and cottages, and Vila Serena is far and away the best. Almadena is fairly quiet but for a small village it has plenty of bars/shops/cafes. One thing to make sure of if you do hire a car is directions to the villa. Our transfer driver didnt have a clue where he was going (to be fair it was dark and there was a diversion) and at one point he ended up reversing into a house. No bother though as we eventually found our villa thanks to his colleague's assistance. I imagine the people in the house weren't over the moon but never mind.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.