Casa Olhão is a design home in the heart of Olhão that feels like it’s your own space. It features a few modern luxuries and hasn’t been over-designed, ensuring it’s comfortable and can be enjoyed.
It’s a traditional townhouse — cosy and with true Portuguese charm.
What is the story behind Casa no Centro? How did it all start?
It was more or less a coincidence. We had a real estate project in Germany, an old building in Cologne, that we had our hearts set on. But at some point, it just fell through. I always had it in my mind to do something in the south, although my partner was originally against the idea. We looked at a few places — Sardinia, Ibiza — but there was never any spark.
Then while we were in Namibia, we decided to have a look in Portugal (I’m Portuguese). In Portugal, I know the language and the formalities. But I also know that my father is always repairing properties and what it means in terms of work.
We toured Portugal for three weeks, starting in Porto, and visited family in the north, then came back via the Algarve, Troia and Comporta to Lisbon. Our hearts got stuck in the Algarve where there was an urban touch and life, even in the winter. We liked that there were bigger cities, places like Portimaõ, Faro and Olhão. And it’s not called the Algarve (“Gateway to the sun”) for nothing, with 320 days of sunshine a year.
We found what would become Casa Colina (our first property Portugal) by chance on Facebook and flew straight down to view it on the weekend. It is very difficult to buy in Portugal — it’s hard to find a property and the Portuguese are tough sellers. We wanted to buy the land around Casa Colina, so we would have independence forever, but there were difficulties with the negotiations.
The previous owners of Casa Colina were English, so the Portuguese touch was missing and we wanted to bring back that tradition. We liked the Santa Catarina tiles, which were already there — they were an eye-catcher for us. We felt that it had the potential to be renovated and modernised.
The Casa Colina experiment was really very pleasant and although we are based in Germany, we found very good craftsmen with whom we worked well. I thought that the townhouses were so cute and that if we (and the bank) could bear it, we should buy a second property.
That was when we started searching for what became Casa no Centro. Initially, it looked a bit small (it’s only 70 square metres). But when we viewed it in person, we realised the upstairs rooms have extremely high ceilings.
Our architect, Christina, did a really great job. We have exposed concrete on the floor with Santa Catarina tiles in between and that light wood that we love so much.
So far, everyone who has vacationed here has been delighted. It’s hard to imagine from the outside, with its small facade, small windows and small door that it has such volume inside. Everything is really big and open.
How would you describe the atmosphere in Casa no Centro?
Casa no Centro is a traditional Portuguese house — it’s cosy and with true Portuguese charm. We have tried to make it not just a holiday home for rent but "our" house that we rent out. I tried to bring in all the decorations a unique touch.
A guest recently said that she had never experienced such a perfect, minimalistic house with every comfort.
When you enter Casa no Centro, there is a small bathroom where we have put the old building’s original tiles and a staircase leading up to the bedroom. It’s like a mezzanine and as it is open, we therefore only accept guests with children 10 years or older.
The kitchen is all white, with a concrete bench and a Smeg fridge. It connects to the living room where there are large French doors that open out to the patio. From here, you can ascend to a small roof terrace where there are two loungers. In addition, there is another bedroom with a small bathroom featuring a toilet and shower.
Casa no Centro is self-catering, with the final cleaning included in the rates. If guests are staying more than five or six days, we do a change of linen and clean the bathrooms. We have fast internet and satellite TV, so you can watch French or German shows.
We are right in the middle of the Algarve and there is so much to do. You can go to the west coast, which is great for surfers, or head east towards Spain. There are all sorts of water sports on offer at the beach and you can often see dolphins (and sometimes even orcas).
Away from the coastline, there are lots of nature hikes to do and you can go cliff jumping or just rent canoes to explore. We are keen golfers and one of the most well-known golf courses in the area is close by. It’s laid out on the cliff tops overlooking the sea. There are lots of wineries to visit and you can do olive oil tastings or experience the Easter procession in Loulé.
For guests who are staying longer, you could do a day trip to Seville or Lisbon, which are only 200 kilometers away. You can also go to the Alentejo, which is beautiful. There’s really something at all ends of the spectrum and for everyone, from individuals to families.
Casa no Centro is located in Portimão, which is located at the mouth of a river, much like Lisbon and Porto. It’s typically Portuguese and surrounded by water, with everything within walking distance. The beach is only around 20 minutes on foot, but some guests may prefer to rent a bike or go by car.
We are located fairly centrally, with the pedestrian zone just one street away. It’s super quiet and everything is very close, with big supermarkets around five minutes away by car. You can eat tuna just around the corner from us for €8 and drink an espresso for 70 cents.
Unlike some of the Portuguese towns that are being redeveloped for tourists, Portimão is still very much Portuguese. There are a lot of Portuguese people living here and many of the little houses are now being restored and renovated. I’m excited to see what it is like in 10 years' time.
December is always a beautiful month — we often walk around in shorts and t-shirts. Even at Christmas, you can still eat at the beach and dine outside — all the restaurants are still open. January, February and March are the most wintry months, then spring comes, which is really nice for golfers because it’s not that hot.
Summer is great for beach holidays. In July and August, it can get as high as 35°C, although this is a rarity. It usually fluctuates between 28°C and 34°C. Due to the Atlantic Ocean, it is always temperate. It's never too hot and never too cold.
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