Travel: Do Not Disturb

Bela Vista Hotel & Spa

Waterfront hotel with a Michelin star restaurant


Bela Vista Hotel & Spa is a member of Relais and Châteaux

Hotel Website | Instagram

Restaurant Website | Instagram

Around a three-hour train ride from Lisbon, or a flight into Faro, the Bela Vista Hotel & Spa, a Relais & Châteaux property, is set in a 19th century villa, and is generally referred to as the first hotel in the Algarve. Its excellent Michelin star restaurant, VISTA, makes it a destination for foodies from across the globe.

The Hotel

Originally home to a cork industrialist, the property first became a hotel in 1934 and served as a refuge to famous names throughout the Spanish Civil and Second World Wars; the grand piano in the lobby was a gift from a general who recovered there.

The hotel was remodelled and reopened in 2011, and now has 38 rooms, a pool, spa, gym, and the aforementioned Michelin star restaurant VISTA, with a bistro by the same team, too.

The Vibe

As the name of the hotel suggests, this hotel has a beautiful view. Yes, the town it’s in is busy, but the red cliffs surrounding it and the location of the hotel – perched high on a cliff, privately enclosed behind gates – make it feel like it’s in a world of its own. The décor blends old and new in a vibrant way, integrating things from the original building like Portuguese tiles and Brazilian wood, and colour plays an important role throughout. Overall, this feels like a relaxed, luxe (regal) beach house.

The Rooms

Rooms are spread across three properties and they all have different décor. The rooms in the newest Jardim building have terraces and views; the rooms in the Palacete are in the historic main house, and the rooms in Casa Azul are all painted in blue hues.

VISTA Restaurant

Sometimes Michelin-starred restaurants can be more about fuss than an excellent dining experience, but not here. VISTA is a treat from start to finish. The dining room is small and intimate and all tables have waterfront views. The tasting menu starts with a quick tour of the kitchen and cellar, and ends with a snack at the chef’s table in the actual kitchen. You’re then led back to your table for a menu based around, appropriately, seafood. This is serious dining with an injection of fun throughout. Highlights included a sommelier’s selection of interesting wines – it’s like a crash Portuguese wine course – and desserts that include unexpected elements, like cotton candy and edible orange trees. The tableware, artistic menus, and ceramic maps that show you the provenance of your courses are interesting, too.


Come here to dine! VISTA is truly special. They have two menus: one that focuses on sustainable crustaceans and fish from the Algarve coast, and a vegetarian menu that uses organic vegetables from the region. Also, the pool’s location and serviced facilities make for a very relaxing day.

Anything Else

You’re right on the boardwalk, so if you like to walk or run, bring your shoes. They can organise things like a yacht trip, wine tasting at a local producer, hike, or even a market trip with VISTA’s chef. The staff are exceptional across the board, too.

Originally published on
1st July 2024


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