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A friend recently asked me to recommend somewhere for a short break by the coast. The criteria were that it had to be relaxing, good value and easy to get to, with decent weather and good food.
My answer was instant, if a little surprising: “There’s this great Holiday Inn you should stay at!”.
I hastily explained that it’s in the Algarve, but I’m still not sure they looked entirely convinced…
The Holiday Inn Algarve in Armacao de Pera (about 40 minutes from Faro airport) is a genuinely brilliant option though, and my regular choice for a quick off-season trip.
I’m not going to pretend it’s the fanciest place in the world, but simplicity (done well) can be a very good thing.
The Holiday Inn gets all the basics absolutely spot on: the staff are excellent, the location and views are fantastic, and the rates (out of season) are ridiculously good value.
The hotel is located right on the beach (you have access directly from the pool area).
The beach is magnificent and goes on for miles, broken up only by sandstone cliffs and small, secluded coves – perfect for a picnic.
The rooms are simple, comfortable and recently renovated.
I was delighted to be upgraded to a room with a balcony on my last stay. I didn’t have elite status with IHG at the time so it was a very pleasant surprise, and definitely appreciated. Being able to enjoy the sunset on your balcony while sipping a cold beer in the middle of December is surely one of the great pleasures of travelling!
The public areas are in a similar style to the rooms.
More importantly, it’s worth knowing that the bar staff mix a mean Margarita.
For me though, what makes the hotel special are the views and the coastline:
In Summer, I imagine the Holiday Inn and the surrounding area can get very busy and I’m not sure what I would think about being there at that time of year.
Out of season though, you can walk for miles along the cliffs or the beaches and scarcely see another person. That might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it. Just the ocean, giant skies and wonderful sunsets – it’s extremely relaxing.
Take a good book, swim (the pool is heated in winter), and enjoy the local fish and wine.
Speaking of food, there’s a very good (and cheap) seafood restaurant called Bombordo 5 minutes away, a pizzeria just across the road, and a surprisingly good Indian restaurant attached to the hotel. There are plenty of little bars open (even in December), and at least two small supermarkets nearby.
There are lots of good hotels in attractive locations, but if you find yourself wincing at the bill when you check-out, it can definitely take some of the shine off your trip!
Fortunately, that’s unlikely to happen at the Holiday Inn Algarve – at least not between November and March when rates are almost always under £30.00 per night.
Book a stay in December using an IHG partner rate (available for everyone – just make sure you print the form) and it’s currently less than £15.00 per night!
When you factor in that IHG usually has a very generous bonus promotion in the Winter, the value is absolutely phenomenal.
Is it really the best value hotel in Europe? Impossible to say for certain – but I’d love to know what’s better!