One of Portugal's most glamorous hotels, The Oitavos is a bold, ultra-modern hotel located 25 minutes from Lisbon on the Atlantic coast. Against the stunning backdrop of the Sintra-Cascais natural park and the ocean, it sits proudly in the middle of one of Europe's best golf courses, and attracts a rather flashy clientele, proud to flash their sporty physiques by the gorgeous outdoor infinity pool. The open plan of the hotel makes the most of the ruggedly beautiful surroundings and the designers have wisely chosen to embrace the surrounding dunes and woodland rather than landscape the grounds into something more orderly. The result is birds flitting around the pool, rooms that look out onto wild nature, and a high-end spa that feels like a truly off-the-path escape despite being within easy reach of both Lisbon and the upmarket beach town of Cascais. The Top 100-listed Oitavos Dunes golf course is just footsteps away, and all equipment, including buggies, can be hired from the hotel. Despite its chic appearance, this is a surprisingly good option for families, with staff able to arrange pony riding and golf classes for younger visitors.
The hotel also runs a private-hire villa in the middle of the golf course, with its own pool, dramatic views, and room service delivered by golf buggy.
The combination of gorgeous surroundings and very effective design give rooms at The Oitavos a real wow factor. All rooms and suites are extremely spacious, and feature open-plan bedroom, living area and bathroom, with floor-to-ceiling windows and large balconies allowing guests to soak up the lovely views over the dunes and out to the ocean. Rooms have Nespresso machines (charge for capsules in most rooms) and iPod docks, and there's lots of the hotel's trademark blues and crisp whites, which reflect the colors of the surrounding landscape.
Bathrooms are stylishly integrated into the hotel's open-plan design, with powerful shower cubicles, and WCs with Japanese-style toilets featuring all manner of automatic washing and drying functions. Rooms that are not overlooked have tubs by the window, allowing guests to soak up the view as they soak in the bath. Just add a drink from the mini-bar for true indulgence.
The uber-contemporary experience begins as soon as you enter the lobby, an open plan space with a minimalist-chic corridor leading past a sushi bar, restaurant and piano lounge and out to the pool. Glass walls draw the eye to the beautiful surroundings, but the interior is notable too, with lots of cool blues and bright whites. The lounge areas have coffee tables strewn with magazines focusing on fashion, sports and luxury travel, and the hotel itself is a favorite with the fashion press.
The outdoor infinity pool has a glorious view over the ocean, and the tall, grassy dunes add to the dramatic backdrop. Guests can make use of sun loungers and order drinks and snacks from a small bar on the upper level. There's also an large, heated indoor pool (for guests aged 16 or over) in the spa.
YOU SHOULD KNOW With so much rugged nature on the doorstep, don't be too startled if you see a variety of bugs crawling or flying around (or even in) the outdoor pool.
The low, violet-hued lighting and sleek design make a statement, but it's the glass walls that make a visit to the hotel's spa such a treat. The 10 treatment areas offer a range of soothing and beautifying treatments, and all look out onto the grassy dunes, with their fluttering birds and butterflies. Treatments are extra, but all guests can use the pool, Turkish bath and sauna.
The Spa at the Oitavos Hotel caters for its sporty clientele with a very modern and well-equipped gym.
Dining is another strong suit at The Oitavos. Guests can enjoy top-notch sushi at the stylish, stand-up sushi bar, tuck into snacks al-fresco at the poolside bar, or enjoy a stylishly-presented meal at Ipsylon. A short distance from the hotel itself, the Verbasco restaurant in the smart Club House of the Oitavos Dunes has gorgeous views, and a culinary offer ranging from small plates to Wagyu beef steaks and hearty Portuguese dishes. Breakfast, served in the open-plan lobby/lounge/dining area, is a treat, with eggs and coffees made to order as well as a particularly well-stocked buffet incorporating treats such as smoked salmon and flutes of Champagne. The hotel also offers a Chef's Table experience, which needs to be booked in advance.
Although slick in decor, design and food presentation, the Ipsylon restaurant has a fairly informal vibe, and caters well to children with kid-pleasing favorites such as spaghetti.
All of the restaurants at The Oitavos double as bars, and the abundant use of clear glass mean all offer a chance to admire the lovely setting while sipping a drink. For a sunset tipple, the bar on the pool terrace is a particularly enjoyable option on sunny days.
The sense of splendid isolation is key to the appeal of a stay at The Oitavos, but the hotel is not too cut off from civilization. The hotel runs a free shuttle bus to the beaches and train station of Cascais during the summer, and also offers bicycles for hire. It's a short walk or cycle to the beachfront promenade, but count on using a car or calling cabs during your stay here if you want to hit up bars and restaurants in Cascais, Sintra, or Lisbon itself.
Cascais' biggest destination restaurant is arguably the famous Monte Mar (15-minute walk or 5-10-minute drive) which has played host to an array of visiting A-listers including Bill Clinton and Bryan Adams and offers delicious fish and seafood with an equally mouthwatering view over Guincho beach. Also within walking distance is Restaurante Casa de Cha de Oitavos (8-10 minute walk) has a good lunch menu of salads, seafood and small plates.
Guests looking for lively nightlife will need to take a cab into Cascais, where there's an interesting mix of well-heeled locals and fun-seeking young surfers. For the best cocktails in town try Hemingway (10-minute drive) at the Marina, or for a more relaxed night out head into the historic center and visit the near-obligatory (it seems pretty much every town in Europe has one) Irish pub, O'Luians (10-minute drive) to drink Guinness with a lively, mixed-age crowd.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This one-of-a-kind hotel makes a real statement, and its clever design allows guests to make the most of the gorgeous surroundings. Although it's within a short drive of Lisbon, Cascais and Sintra it feels like a real off-the-beaten-track oasis, and its spa and restaurants are top-notch. Rooms are spacious and Instagram-fabulous, and the whole experience is one to savor. Golfers couldn't ask for a better location, and horse riding and cycling can also be arranged by the hotel's friendly staff.