Our stay at Vilabranca cannot be faulted. Our apartment was large, clean, bright and very well equipped, especially in the kitchen. The complex has two pools, both of which are clean and well maintained. The bar serves tasty snacks, excellent coffee, and you can buy internet time on two available computers. The rooms have large TVs which show a range of channels including the BBC if you want to catch up with home news. At all times the superb attitude of the staff meant that we wanted for nothing; a minor problem with our room was fixed within minutes, not hours. They also run a shuttle service to and from both town and beach (Porte de Mos). The beach is fabulous - literally a mile of golden sand - but (and this is a big BUT) the sea is bloody cold. Some hardy souls took the plunge, but it's the Atlantic and not the Med. Daytime temperatures never dipped below 28 degrees and often reached the high thirties. Night-time temperatures were cooler which meant no need for air-con in the bedroom and made sleeping all the more pleasant. Vilabranca is quiet, and it's unlikely you'll be disturbed.
The hotel's location is also excellent. Just outside the main entrance is a well-stocked supermarket and the bus stop for travel into Lagos (which is definitively pronounced 'Lahgosh'). The bus is Line 2, and it's a circular route serving several beaches and the town centre. The timetables are a little fanciful, but you'll get used to them coming early or late. Reception staff will give you a copy of the timetable for free. Tickets are 1.20 to anywhere. Just by the bus stop there is O Penguim restaurant and bar - both beer and food are excellent. A little way down the hill is the China Palace restaurant where a good set meal for two costs 25 Euro (you can have a full 'soup to nuts' meal for two at 50 Euro if you fancy splashing out.)
The walk into town takes around 15 minutes, all downhill. I recommend a bus or taxi back. Lagos comes alive at night after 8pm when all the streets leading away from the market square are bustling with tourists, street performers, tat shops (my wife's principal raison d'etre) and more restaurants than you can shake a stick at. The best pub we found was Kuinns Bar (Google Kuinns Bar Lagos) where the drink is good, the music excellent, and - how retro-civilised - you can enjoy a smoke indoors while you sup your ale.
If you are culture-hounds like us, you'll find the Algarve a little sparse. Very little of the old Algarve remains after much of the region was flattened in the 1755 earthquake. There's a nice castle at Silves (we went by train from the station behind the Lagos Marina), Portimao might well be the alternative Portugese word for "closed", although I accept we might have gone on a quiet day, easily reachable by bus from the station opposite the Marina footbridge. To satisfy our craving for history and culture, we decamped for four days to visit Evora and Lisbon (see my separate review of Dom Fernando Hotel, Evora).
All tolled our Portuguese adventure was a great one. The people are friendly (and not only when you are spending money), the weather was fabulous, and above all else our accommodation at Vilabranca was a delight to come home to. 'Muito obrigados' to all who work there.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Vilabranca offers a high standard of accommodation which feature a wide range of amenities within the complex. It is the ideal choice for families and those seeking a relaxing break close to Lagos. Clients can benefit from being away from the bustle of the resort, while remaining within comfortable walking distance of the centre of Lagos and Porto Do Mos Beach. Vilabranca has won many awards for its excellent service and friendly atmosphere. Lagos is a bustling old walled city, with great night life with fantastic restaurants, bars and shopping. You can spend hours pottering around the picturesque lanes. Lagos is very proud of its history and there is plenty of sightseeing from the ancient slave market to the 17th-century moated fortress overlooking the harbour. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Vilabranca Apartments Hotel Lagos
- Vilabranca Lagos