I’m having breakfast at Quinta Bonita and watching hens wandering around in front of me on an immaculate lawn. Playing match my breakfast egg with that hen is a fun diversion for a few seconds, but owners Chantelle and Fraser have to play it for real every day as they wander the grounds of Quinta Bonita searching for those freshly laid eggs. “They could be anywhere” says Chantelle “but we always try their favourite spots first.”
Fresh eggs aside, it’s just as refreshing for me to uncover a couple of ambitious young hoteliers who are so completely driven and committed about what they want to deliver, yet somehow still have the time to raise a young family.
Quinta Bonita is quite simply a labour of love. What began as Chantelle’s family holiday home in 1981, on Portugal’s Algarve in the hills above Lagos, has been transformed into a stunning luxury boutique B&B that still says family home to me wherever I look. The lush grounds and impressive Italian garden contain 1,500 plants hand planted by family members; groundsman Manuel has been a regular for over 20 years and there are pieces of handmade furniture and hand painted tiling throughout that unquestionably say family home to me.
With just eight bedrooms plus a 2 bed cottage within a 10,000 square metre footprint It is undeniably a luxurious retreat. It is just a 10 minute drive to Lagos via the nearby main road, but when Chantelle came here as a child it was greatly different. “Between here and Lagos there was literally nothing”
“Nothing except virgin countryside. The local shepherd grazed his cows behind the house and up on the ridge in the distance was farmland all the way to the Monchique mountains.”
Today, looking across at that ridge, the lush fairways of Boavista golf club are easy to pick out, but it’s not all development, there is thankfully, still a stunning view to be had across most of the landscape.
“Now we have two small children we’ve moved to a house further up the hill behind Quinta Bonita and those cows still walk past our door- often we just have to wait until they’ve gone until we can leave.”
As I stroll the grounds, I’m personally shown around by ever-present cat Tigger who appeared here 16 years ago and never left; clearly a cat with very good taste. Tigger suddenly leaves me in a haste, spurred on I suspect by the thought of a few dropped crumbs from the complimentary homemade cake and afternoon tea awaiting in the lounge. Today’s cake is banana bread, a magical creation, the recipe I am reliably informed comes from one of QBs small team.
Back upstairs after tea, my room is an impressively large space. A king size bed with high thread count linen, large flat screen TV, well stocked mini bar, tea and coffee facilities, a large balcony with a view of the glistening pool below and Lagos’ sweeping bay in the distance, a granite bathroom with under floor heating, soft towelling bathrobes and luxury toiletries. Once again I’m in a room that benefits from a legacy of family touches and I feel very much at home.
Breakfast. A little late for me at 9am, but a buffet with plenty of locally sourced goodies is on the table and those fresh eggs ready to order of course, and Chantelle is on hand to offer a wealth of advice, from firsthand experience, on where to visit for a day out, where to eat, who to ask for and how to get there. There really is nothing quite like local knowledge and, as if on cue, my fellow guests are on hand to back her up.
“Right, I’m looking for a drive, not too long mind, that shows off the best Algarve beach views and a great pit stop for lunch.”
“The wild west coast. 30 minutes from here” she comes back at me without so much as a pause for breath. “its stunning. Take the road down below to the Vila do Bispo junction and turn right towards Bordeira” Murmurs of assent permeate from fellow diners. ” The drive through the Eucalyptus trees is wonderful and It’s an amazing beach but make sure you stop on the cliffs at the restaurant Sitio do Forno for lunch.”
I take her advice of course and the rugged west coast is indeed a stunner, topped off by a memorable lunch at Sitio do Forno. An outside table on the cliff top overlooking the ocean.
Each Friday night, Quinta Bonita offers a 4 course candlelit dinner as an optional extra; a chance for Fraser to show off his highly impressive culinary skills. My roasted fillet of Perch wrapped in bacon with seasonal vegetables was a total triumph, as was the crème brulee dessert.
My last day and I’m exploring historic Lagos, a truly delightful place with an authentic old town full of cobbled narrow streets and pretty plazas lined with bars, restaurants and shops. The 16th century walls embrace an old town once the centre of the European slave trade and a maritime centre of note, the restored slave market a grim reminder. Local fishermen offer trips around the jaw dropping coves and rock formations that make up the Lagos waterfront. Another Chantelle recommendation takes me to Cantinha Algarvo deep inside the old town for dinner. Owner Carlos, the latest family owner of a 30 year dynasty, greets me like a long lost friend and proceeds to make sure I don’t leave hungry.
Quinta Bonita is a true hidden treasure, a laid back luxury retreat where you will certainly feel like a family member. But remember to keep a sharp eye out as you walk the gardens, you might spot an egg or two.
All images except featured image and terrace (c) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Quinta Bonita
Per room rates including breakfast and afternoon tea and cake from €125
Weekly packages from €1,335 for two people sharing a room including car hire, breakfast, afternoon tea and cake and sharing lunch or dinner platter.
Yoga and wellness breaks take place regularly throughout the year.