First up, big apologies for the delay in this post.
We flew home from Portugal four weeks ago (feels like a lifetime tbh) and I really wanted to whip this post up the following week but had a few, ahem, technical errors.
Namely that my memory card corrupted and I lost every single snazzy image I shot on my loaned Canon (including some v swish ones with blurred fairy lights in the background that I was all ready to print out poster-size and decorate the house with). I sent it off to a local repair shop to see if they could retrieve them but lol nope, and now I’m too scared to go pick it up in case they whack me with a massive we-tried-really-hard fee.
Which means yes, this post is made up of all iPhone snaps.
HURRAH! Or not.
But anyway, back to Portugal.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that Chris, Atti and I spent five nights in the Algarve, staying at the recently renovated Magnolia Hotel.
FOR OUR FIRST EVER FAMILY HOLIDAY. I mean, minus the cats.
We were kindly given two nights free accommodation in return for a review (HI!), and then paid for an additional three nights, plus flights.
And, I can hand on heart say that despite traveling to some of the most easy-on-the-eyes places on this planet, including Mykonos, New York and Thailand (lol, show off), nothing even comes close to the Magnolia Hotel when it comes to Instagramability.
Pretty sure I just made up that word but sure.
From the neon signs and the palm print tiled bar to the blush pink furniture and marble tables, I absolutely wasn’t short of places to go ‘OOH CAN YOU TAKE A LIL OUTFIT SNAP OF ME OVER HERE PLZ!’.
(Just an FYI, on day one my boyfriend suggested that we set up an agreement whereby he had an hour to himself every day to go to the gym/go for a run, and in return he would take unlimited snaps for me – not too shabby tbh).
So, the hotel.
The Magnolia is situated on the outskirts of Quinta Do Lago – an upmarket wellbeing resort (which specialises in golf, if that’s ya bag) about 15 minutes outside of Faro airport.
It’s the cooler, younger, budget accommodation option on the estate (there’s also a Four Seasons and a Conrad), with prices starting at around £69 a night for a standard double room.
As we were traveling with a baby, we decided to upgrade and go for one of the wood cabin-style cottages on site so that we could have a bit more room and access to self-catering facilities.
Plus, I liked the idea that even if the baby was screaming at 3am, no-one would hear us and I wouldn’t be panicking about irritating fellow guests which was a strong plus.
While there’s 74 rooms at The Magnolia Hotel, there’s seven cottages – all painted in different pastel colours which make for absolutely terrific outfit snap backgrounds.
We stayed in a baby pink one, obvs.
It had all the usual good stuff – a king size bed, a huge shower and decent toiletries, a modern kitchen, some cool art work on the walls, and a TV that was equipped with every channel from Nickelodeon to Sky Sports (boyfriend and baby both v happy – I say that like the baby is actually old enough to know the difference between TV channels ha).
And whilst all the cottages are currently one bed (although sleep two adults and two children), they’re currently updating them to make them two bed, so watch this space.
Anyway, what else do you want to know?
The swimming pool was nice and heated, and the sun loungers comfy. The staff were impressively attentive and so excellent with Atti – plus, they whipped up off-menu passion fruit cocktails, so that was a delicious bonus.
OH, the restaurant!
I am not a breakfast buffet gal. I know, I know, you’re probably shocked by that announcement and wondering if you even know me at all.
I just get a bit overwhelmed with the options and hello yes why would I put melon and bacon and eggs and olives and yogurt and a random local cake all on my plate at the same time?
But this hotel breakfast buffet was simple and understated and I rate it a high 9 out of 10 (probably something to do with the ex-Soho House chef that heads it up tbh).
There was buttery croissants and toast, but there was also homemade chocolate granola (highly recommend) and an egg bar where you could order everything from omelettes to poached eggs. But the best part? SMASHED AVOCADO. Halle-freakin-lullah.
The dinner and lunch options were also good – we tasted most things – and faves included the tacos, the sweet potato fries and the chicken burger.
There was also fantastic food options outside of the hotel. KOKO for pizza and salads and INSANE waffles, The Shack for live music and 10 out of 10 cocktails, Bovino Steakhouse for something a little swish and special and Pure for fresh juices and wraps.
I would definitely advise hiring out a car, which is something we didn’t do.
Everything is just a little too far to walk, although the hotel staff were more than happy to sort us with taxis who provided car seats which was a big help.
Admittedly, we spent a lot of time refined to the hotel (aside from the odd occasion we ventured out for a different dinner/lunch menu), purely because we wanted to keep our first trip with a baby as low-key and stress-free as possible.
But if you were feeling a little more adventurous, there’s plenty of nearby beaches and nature reserves to explore, either by car or by one of the bikes you can hire for free from the hotel.
So yeah, would I recommend The Magnolia Hotel to you?
Absolutely. It has what my boyfriend would describe as a ‘chilled-out sexy-vibe’.
Because it’s not super close to any buzzing nightlife, it’s full of people taking life at a slower pace. Think reading an airport-bought book whilst sipping on a little summin summin and wading into the pool once an hour to cool down.
It’d make an excellent budget babymoon spot (you can get flights to Faro from as little as £50), or place to stay for a relaxing couple of nights with a mate or boyfriend if you just wanted to switch off.
And it turns out that It also worked out as an excellent first-holiday-with-a-baby location.
It ticked all the boxes because a) it looked divine, b) we could fly from Southend (the smallest and least-stressful airport of all time), and b) the flight only took a couple of hours which made for a completely undaunting first flight.
It was a nice, chilled-out little set-up that just felt a bit more special than being at home with the usual monotony of doing the washing up and feeding the cats and throwing vom-covered baby vests in the washing machine.
A decent break, without being scary or overwhelming.
I’d recommend staying for three nights if you cba with car hire malarkey, or up to a week if you wanted to really get out an explore all that the Algrave has to offer.
Over and out, lads.
MY HOLIDAY WARDROBE
Tropical print pyjamas – Next | Blue tie-waist dress – Very | Leopard print wrap dress – Silk Fred | Red tassel earrings – H&M (in-store only) | Black lace up sandals – Public Desire | Tan sandals – boutique in Mykonos (similar here) | Pom Pom beach bag – Rae Feather | Heart sunglasses – eBay | Leaf print swimming costume – Wolf & Whistle | Leaf print straw bag – Matalan (in-store only) | Straw hat – Topshop (old, but similar here) | White embroidered midi dress – Boden | Navy star print dress – Silk Fred | Leaf print maxi dress – Very