Where to stay in Portugal
Hotels in Portugal cover the whole range from very basic accommodation to stylish luxury, using familiar rating systems. The bulk of tourist accommodation is in the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto. You can snap up bargain rooms during the low season, especially deals involving meals and extra beds for children. The large classier chains like Four Seasons, Hilton, Ritz-Carlton and Sheraton are prominent in the more built-up areas, while the cheaper chains can soften the blow on your wallet throughout the country. Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn and continental favourite Ibis all cater for families and travellers on a budget.
Of course, there are plenty of Portuguese hotels across the country that will give you more of a flavour for Portugal’s famous hospitality. Vidago Palace (www.vidagopalace.com) near Porto, Zenit Lisboa (http://lisboa.zenithoteles.com) in the capital Lisbon and Hotel Quinta do Lago (www.hotelquintadolago.com) in the Algarve are higher-end examples to pamper to your every need. Seek out forums, websites and word of mouth for more reasonable gems.
Grading: Hotels are classified according to the international 1- to 5-star system and prices are officially approved. Apartment hotels are classified 2- to 4-star, motels 2- to 3-star and boarding houses 1- to 3-star (1-star is the best); there are also 4-star albergarias. During the low season hotels often grant substantial reductions. Children under twelve are usually entitled to a 50% reduction on the price of meals and an extra bed, if sharing a room/apartment with parents.
Bed and breakfast
Portugal has its own unique form of bed and breakfast called a pousada, which is government-owned. Pousadas are essentially historic buildings like castles, convents and palaces. They are not cheap, but there are sometimes special offers for honeymoon couples, plus they are largely located in areas not well served by normal hotels, making your stay more interesting. Contact Pousadas de Portugal (www.pousadas.pt) to find out more about availability and choice, and to make bookings.
Portugal has well over 100 campsites, many with facilities such as swimming pools, games areas, supermarkets and restaurants. For further information, check www.campingportugal.org, www.roteiro-campista.pt or www.orbitur.pt. Several UK operators, such as Eurocamp (www.eurocamp.co.uk), offer luxury tents and mobile homes in campsites around Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve. These are great for families and those looking for daily sports and activities.
Youth Hostels: One of the great ways to travel around Portugal is by staying in youth hostels. The Portuguese Youth Hostel Association, Pousadas de Juventude (www.pousadasjuventude.pt), provides affordable accommodation in over 50 great locations throughout the country.
Self Catering: Self-catering accommodation is mostly consigned to the Algarve to take advantage of the sunseekers and golfers that flock there, but you can also book up places in the major cities should you wish to stay longer and cook for yourself. Owners Direct (www.ownersdirect.co.uk) and HomeAway (www.holiday-rentals.co.uk) and Air b'nb (www.airbnb.co.uk) are two of several reputable companies you can use to book ahead.
Unique Accommodation: Turihab are a charming collection of privately owned guest houses that allow visitors a chance to stay overnight in a manor house, a farm house, a country estate or a rustic cottage. Properties are divided into casa antigas (historic), quintas e herdades (estates and heritage) and casas rústicas (rustic) categories (www.turihab.pt).
Mountain Huts: Mountain huts are a fun way to experience the higher parts of Portugal. For places like Alto Douro, seek them out online or when you arrive.