It’s difficult to categorise a hotel that ticks so many boxes and has quite as many reasons to visit as the Magnolia Hotel in southern Portugal. Its style is unique: sports luxe meets Miami cool meets trend-led wanderlust – the ultimate combination to pique the interest of any holidaymaker.
The Magnolia is part of the elite Quinta Do Lago resort in the Algarve, and it’s a destination that goes hand in hand with gorgeous weather, premier golf courses and magnificent villas. It’s by no means a new addition to the area’s hotel scene but has been given a new (and vastly improved) lease of life with an entire overhaul. The brains behind it sought to create something different: a hotel that delivers whimsical escapism and is ultra chic but that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It simultaneously stands out in the resort while also managing to encapsulate the sporty, upscale vibe for which it’s known.
So what is the hotel actually like? Your first impression is of the super manicured palm trees and bushes, and the retro neon sign that’s sure to make you smile – a good start. Then you make your way into the reception-come-bar (…gin and cocktail bar, to be precise). Picking up your keys and Magnolia goodie bag (think Instagrammable red slip-on shoes), it’s time to check out your new digs.
The hotel’s trendy interiors drew inspiration from Palm Springs with motel chic as the name of the game. Vibrant reds and yellows (plus blue if you count the clear skies) and exotic prints take centre stage while an abundance of vintage touches and graphic art adorns the walls. It’s quirky yet stylish, and has been exceptionally well done.
As for the rooms, they’re light, bright and sleek with all the mod cons you need. Elaborate they are not, but there’s no need to be – they’re nice, simple and do the job perfectly. Millennials in particular will appreciate the handy USB ports by the bed, while sleep-deprived city folk quietly revel in the giant bed and high-quality linens. Families or small groups seeking their own space may want to spring for one of the pastel-hued ‘cottages’ that are set back from the main hotel, complete with kitchen and living area.
The Magnolia, like the QDL as a whole, takes a lot of care over guests’ wellbeing, but unlike its more upmarket counterparts, they do it in a more relatable and attainable manner. As well as a fully-equipped gym (with a banging playlist to keep you motivated) and heated outdoor pool, they also offer complimentary bike hire and have a small but perfectly proportioned on-site spa complete with Turkish bath, sauna and Jacuzzi (plus relaxing spa treatments as an optional extra). Hop in one of the shuttles down to The Campus and take your pick from tennis, a guided bike tour or try your hand at padel (a popular Mediterranean racquet sport akin to squash). Note the Soho House vibe in the décor and keep a lookout for sports men and women to inspire your session. You’re sure to be in good company as the area is often home to various leading sports teams from around the world.
After all that activity (which there is no pressure to partake in by the way!), it’s time to attend to that appetite. Thankfully the team are well aware of how to make your holiday great, with a whole list of glorious eateries to choose from.
Let’s start with the hotel itself. The food at The Magnolia simply can’t be faulted. Breakfast is the perfect mix between light and healthy (think homemade granolas and fresh fruit) and the full throttle first meal that’s just what the doctor ordered the morning after a cocktail-fuelled night. The lunch/dinner menu is succinct but varied with dishes from all over the world, exquisitely prepared. Their speciality is the Mag Burger which has ‘secret’ ingredients that change regularly, so you never quite know what tasty delights are waiting beneath the bun!
Also in Quinta Do Lago is Bovina Steakhouse; the ultimate option for a high-quality meat feast. Don’t miss a cocktail aperitif at the bar beforehand as the award-winning mixologists are of the highest calibre and will make you a concoction well worthy of a glowing review. The dessert selection is incredible too so we’d strongly suggest leaving room so you can indulge to your heart’s content!
Also topping the list for taste bud-treating cuisine is the seafood restaurant Casa Do Lago. The nautical, white and blue theme is elegant yet relaxed, with glass walls that overlook the beautiful man-made lake on either side. The food is fantastic, varied and puts British seafood totally to shame.
There are other restaurants in the resort (including a plush French eatery and pizza place overlooking the driving range) that are well worth a visit but the final one that makes the top three is Pure. More of a lunch stop, this healthy café is all about celebrating nutritious ingredients. Their established chef who made his name in London is known for creating flavourful dishes and juices that nourish the body and taste utterly delicious. Oh, and they also do takeout too so if you’re heading down to the gorgeous Quinta Do Lago beach or off to explore, feel free to order ahead and take a lunch box with you.
Back at The Magnolia, other things to keep your group entertained are their cinema room, chill room and on-site hairdressers. Their exciting plans for the summer include a Saturday brunch-come-pool-party with resident DJ, and Sunday ‘cocktails and classics’. Much-loved movies like ‘Dirty Dancing’ are projected onto the wall next to the pool for you to enjoy during a swim or while sipping your favourite beverage. Sound like heaven? We think so too.
My opinion of The Magnolia and QDL overall? That I can’t recommend it enough. The hotel and its staff are both endearingly relaxed and they’ve clearly worked out exactly how to achieve their aim of ensuring their guests have a great time. Whether you fit into the ‘young and active’ category that wellness destinations are so known for or not, The Magnolia truly has something for everyone and is so much more than just another hotel.