Olhão Retreat

  • Location: Beach / Coast
    Olhão market: In walking distance
    Deserted beaches in Ria Formosa national park: Walking and a short ride with the water taxi
    Restaurants: In walking distance
    Plenty of outdoor, cultural and foodie activities: Within walking distance and/or a short drive away (transfers easy to organise)
  • Faro Airport (FAO): 14km (15 mins by car)
    Lisbon Airport (LIS): 285km (2h 30mins by car)
    Car recommended
    No parking available

This is a one-of-a-kind house with amazing service and wonderful views from the rooftop terrace and pool.
Make sure you spend a Saturday in Olhão to visit the local market. It is a great experience.

Parking in the old town is an experience. On the plus side, in most areas it is free.
The rooftop pool is not huge but it is a magical experience to have a swim overlooking the rooftops.
We are not suitable for very young children (they should be at least 8 years old at the time of your stay) or for guests with mobility issues. The house has many stairs...

Contact the owner directly for the best rates
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An introduction to Olhão Retreat

What was the inspiration/story behind Olhão Retreat?

It all really happened by accident and we had no intention of buying a place in Portugal. My husband visited back in 2013 when a friend of his was renovating a house in Olhão and he immediately felt there was something special about the town. He suggested we return together for a weekend and before you know it, we were on the rooftop of a derelict building, looking out towards another. Within three months, we were the proud owners of two derelict buildings in Olhão, most of which we hadn’t seen yet as they were occupied by scary dogs.

Once we did get inside, we realised the full potential of the spaces and just how big they really were, then got to work creating what you see today. So I like to say that we didn’t find the house, but the house found us!

Initially, we were just looking for a place for ourselves to use as a family and for my husband to meet with a group he collaborates with on spiritual land and energy work. But due to the size of the casa, we began considering how it could be utilised for the rest of the year.

I was aware that yoga and wellness retreats were taking off in a big way, so was quite proactive in reaching out to people who might be interested in hosting at the casa. It’s been a bit of a snowball effect really and we’re really lucky that people have been on board. Aside from retreats, we also think it caters well to intergenerational families and small, intimate weddings, as well as a venue for photoshoots.

How would you describe the atmosphere of Olhão Retreat and what do you love about it?

I would say that it’s relaxed, calming and very chilled. We’ve aimed to create a space in which everyone can feel at ease and comfortable the moment they walk through the door.

The casa has an extraordinary concertina effect — it can feel just right for two people or expand when full with 24 guests and still offers plenty of space and quiet corners for everyone to enjoy. I think its central location in the old town also adds to the energy and atmosphere of the space, as it’s within walking distance of everything and everyone is free to come and go as they please.

What do you particularly like about this part of the Algarve and Olhão?

The eastern Algarve is a rare corner of Europe that remains authentic, down to earth, real and where you are welcomed into the local community, without being pandered to. Olhão is not a tourist town, it is an everyday working town with a proud and ancient heritage, best explored on foot, getting lost wandering around the cobbled streets and alleys of the old town.

How far away is the beach and what is your favourite beach?

Olhão is on the coast but doesn't have a beach in town. Instead, a short walk from the waterfront market (which is within easy walking distance from Olhão Retreat), small ferries and river taxis await to whisk people off to a choice of different islands.

There is also a lovely mix of boat companies starting to offer private tours and trips, to explore the natural wonders of the Ria Formosa or for a picnic on a deserted beach.

Olhão Retreat
Rooftop pool
Kitchen terrace
Kitchen terrace
Main kitchen
Kitchen terrace
Kitchen terrace
Courtyard
Library
Games room
Living room
Meditation room
Meditation room
Treatment room
Pool bar
Pool bar terrace
Roof terrace
Roof terrace
Pool on the roof terrace
Roof terrace
Yoga deck
View over Olhão from the rooftop
Clock room
Buddha room
Vault room
Courtyard Suite
Crystal Suite
Crystal Suite bathroom
Empire Suite
Dancer Suite
Dancer Suite bathroom
Gallery Suite bathroom
Music Suite
Spiral Suite
Spiral Suite
Spiral Suite terrace
Tower Suite
Tower Suite terrace
Tower Suite Roof terrace
Olhão and the coast from the rooftop

Olhão Retreat rooms & rates

Olhão Retreat is a classic townhouse that’s set across numerous floors, each of which has architectural features from different periods. The ground floor has more of a traditional Moorish influence (with barrel-vaulted ceilings) while the first floor was added at the beginning of the 20th century in the then-fashionable French style (high ceilings and balconies).

The design of the residence is inward-looking and centred around the terrace dining area, which is why we only rent it for groups or families. There’s a kitchen that’s fully equipped to cater for 24 guests, as well as a rooftop yoga deck and swimming pool with incredible views overlooking the rooftops of the old town.

We have 12 bedroom suites, all of which have been individually designed but with a shared aesthetic. There are five bedrooms on the ground floor and five on the first floor, as well as two tower rooms.

The house features:

• 12 double bedrooms, each with a large ensuite bathroom (with walk-in shower, and in one, with an additional free-standing bath). Eight of the twelve have the flexibility of being twin rooms. One is always set up as a twin. Three are suitable for couples or as a luxury single. The rooms range between 13 sqm and 32 sqm (excluding bathroom and outside spaces). Most are in the region of 23 sqm.

• rooftop pool (9m x 3m – heated when needed) and pool bar

• rooftop yoga decks (capacity for 16 -20 + teacher)

• meditation room (capacity for 16-20 + teacher)

• two dedicated massage/treatment rooms

• multiple terraces and outdoor sitting areas for communal entertaining or sneaking away to read a book!

• games room with pool table

• large winter living room with open fireplace

• library opening onto a central courtyard

• large contemporary domestic kitchen, opening onto a large terrace with tables and seating for 24 in comfort [the terrace also has a charcoal BBQ and separate open fireplace to extend the dining out season]

• industrial prep kitchen on the ground floor — for larger events and/or winter dining downstairs

• large entrance hall – for flexible use (including potential winter dining room)

• laundry

  • Olhão Retreat for 24 people / 1560 m²
    / night
    • 1 Twin bedroom
    • 11 Double bedroom
    • 1 Bathroom (ensuite)
    • 11 Shower room (ensuite)
    • 2 Shower room
    • 2 Living room
    • 1 Dining room
    • 2 Kitchen
    • 8 Other rooms
Included in the rates
Rates include 3 hrs per day maid service for 5 days per week, fresh linen once per week & fresh towels twice per week, some initial provisions in the fridge and the pantry (generally this will include: Nespresso capsules (two per guest), tea, sugar, fresh bread, selection of fruit and veg, fresh local cheese, butter, milk, eggs, olive oil & vinegar, salt & pepper) and our lovely local house manager who can pop in every day or disappear if you prefer complete privacy.
Optional extras
Local chefs and caterers, yoga teachers, massage therapists, florists, event producers, stocking up the fridge, recommendations for local restaurants, activities and much more are available on request.
Children & Extra beds
Children over the age of 8 years old are welcome, as are babies in arms at the time of your stay. Please note however that we do not have cots, high chairs or other baby equipment.
Minimum stay
5 - 7 nights (check calendar for dates)
Check in time
after 16:00
Check out time
before 11:00

Facilities & services

  • Children welcome
  • Swimming pool
  • WiFi
  • Terrace
  • Maid service
  • Fireplace
  • Washing machine
  • Music system
  • Central heating
  • Courtyard
  • Honesty bar/Minibar
  • BBQ area
  • Iron & Board
  • Not suitable for young children
  • Safe box
  • Hair dryer

While we don’t offer any services directly to guests, we do speak with hosts/retreat leaders and connect them with local people and suppliers that meet their needs. Whether that’s local chefs, boat operators, tour guides or artisans for hands-on workshops, we have a great network of people offering almost anything and everything you might wish for.

There are only two bedrooms in the house with air conditioning (and the two kitchens). They are the only rooms in the house where it can sometimes be required. All rooms have luxury low noise ceiling fans.

Things to do in Algarve & Olhão

  • Art / Culture
  • Shopping / Markets
  • Wine tastings
  • Cooking classes
  • Wildlife / Animals
  • Massages / Treatments
  • Yoga classes
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Scuba diving
  • Sailing
  • Boat trips

The markets are a must, particularly on Saturday morning when the local smallholders set up along the waterfront. The array of produce and the atmosphere is magical.

The other must is going out to one or more of the islands. Each one has its own character and vibe. We’ll share with guests who stay where the bests places are. Even the journey out there is a hit — whether by a small ferry or river taxi nipping across the clear waters of the Ria Formosa.

There is an ever-growing mix of adventures and activities that are available in Olhao and the nearby local area. We are always happy to chat through your ideas and to share recommendations.

The location of Olhão Retreat

Olhão Retreat is situated in the old town of Olhão, an ancient fishing settlement that’s retained a really authentic feel. Olhão is located in the eastern Algarve, which is very different from the western Algarve and far less developed. The principal industry in the area is fishing (in fact it has the biggest commercial fishing port in the Algarve). This means there is an active local working community in town all year round. It is wonderful to visit and explore at all times of the year. Even in the winter months it is typical to enjoy weeks of blue skies and temperatures above 20˚C.

The old town is very photogenic and a real melting pot of architectural styles. I’d say it’s like a living museum and we’re right in the middle of it!

When is the best time to visit Algarve?

Olhão is a wonderful place to come all year round. The Algarve boasts 300 days of sunshine per year and as Olhão is very much a working Portuguese town, there is a resident community all year round. This isn't a place where the tumble weed blows down the street when the tourists have left at the end of the summer... As a family, we love to come over for Christmas when blue skies and 20˚C temperatures are the norm — making a welcome change from the cold, damp, grey winter days of the UK.

February/March is when the “Algarvian snow” comes — with the hills throughout the countryside white and pale pink with the blossom of the almond trees.

April/May is a great season for retreats — yoga on the rooftop in the morning sun, racing pigeons swooping overhead and the church bells ringing...

The summer months bring a few degrees of warmer temperature, an extra buzz of visitors, seafood festivals, dinners outside and plenty more.

September/October/ November are wonderful again for retreats and I’ve known the temperatures to be 30˚C or more at the end of October and 20˚C or more throughout November and December... and for anyone who likes to swim in the sea, this is the best time, when the waters are at their warmest, after the long summer months.