Through JO&SO we always try to capture the vibe of a place through writing and photography. Casa Mãe, however, is one of those places you only really understand once you’re there in person. It has a unique energy. The hotel’s 33 accommodation options are spread across three different spaces - something that it’s hard to convey in pictures. We are big fans.
There are five elegant suites in the restored 19th-century estate house (Casa Mãe translates to ‘Mother House’). Each room here is filled with beautiful vintage furniture from all over Portugal.
You will find another 22 rooms in the Jogo de Bola building, where cosy minimalism perfectly blends with traditional Algarvian architecture.
For an outdoorsy experience, in the fig-scented garden there are three rustic Cabanas plus the family-suite Padaria, each with a private patio, a hammock and an outdoor shower.
Last but not least, we love the two Baluarte Villas. These are the largest suites at Casa Mãe, with two separate rooms (sleeps four adults), a private patio, and a small but mighty saltwater pool.
There’s also a big organic orchard, a farm-to-table restaurant, an eye-catching triangular pool, a spa with a rooftop pool, an outdoor cinema, a juice bar, craft coffee and a concept store dedicated to Portuguese design.
The estate house is considered one of the most beautiful in Lagos.
The colour aesthetic: whitewashed buildings on a very blue sky, tiles from the local red earth, the deep green from the fig trees and the plants.
Complimentary Oliofora bath treats, handmade from essential oils.
An eclectic selection of vintage pieces, bespoke handmade local crafts and contemporary furniture.
The eggs they serve come from hens which are fed exclusively on oranges, kale and strawberries.
Don't miss our interview with the founder Veronique Polaert.
Bear in Mind
Lagos can get a little touristy in high season but it is also an ideal base to explore the well-kept secrets of the wild part of the Western Algarve.
Despite being in town, Casa Mãe is a real haven.
No coffee maker or tea in the room.
Parking spaces at the hotel are limited.
“I fell in love with Portugal, its beauty, its simplicity and the kindness of its people…”
I fell in love with Portugal, its beauty, its simplicity and the kindness of its people when I first visited the country in April/ May 2014. In Lagos, it was the beautiful beaches, the sun, the life by the sea and the amazing farms and produce that decided me to do Casa Mãe there.
I wanted to find a place that I can call home – a place where life is sweet, where people take the time to grow their vegetables, to eat well, to get some sun, to go fishing, surfing but also a place with a strong identity, and a heritage.
When I found this abandoned estate with this beautiful romantic ruin by the old city walls, I knew that I had found it. Casa Mãe is more than a holiday place, it’s a place with strong values and another approach to life.
Winter is also my favourite season in the Algarve. This sun that you get seems so precious, the air and the light are so pure, the landscapes so peaceful. Even nature seems on hold during the high season, plants start growing again, recovering from the season during the winter! Wintertime is the time for us to develop projects, to reflect and be creative.
We love collaborations and we try to promote Casa Mãe as a creative platform, during the winter we try to foster this sense of creative community by offering creative residences with the program share & stay – 3 workshops for 7 nights.
The idea is to invite creative people – be it a chef, a designer, a photographer, a ceramist, a filmmaker, and so on – to come over and hold workshops to share and mingle with our community and guests.
We also offer discounted rates for stays over 20 nights, we suggest freelancers rent their flat for one month and come and stay with us, enjoy a different lifestyle, and work in another environment.
“…a place where life is sweet, where people take the time to grow their vegetables, to eat well, to get some sun, to go fishing, surfing.”
On the internet to start… but then by talking with people, Portugal is a small country and it’s so easy to ‘network’ here, it’s actually very natural. You can’t go out without bumping into someone you know, and people like helping out, connecting dots – community and solidarity go well together.
This is what I have experienced in Portugal, and why I’m so keen on developing further those community links with Casa Mãe.
That’s a difficult one… it’s the combination and the connections of all the objects that I very much enjoy.
One of my inspirational moments for Casa Mãe was a full-day workshop with the interior designer Isle Crawford when I was living in London and I remember her saying that the objects that people use the most are the ones in which they ‘invest’ the less in – the objects of the daily life shall be the ones that we prefer…
This is why we put so much attention into the ceramic pots in the shower, experiencing their simple elegance and texture is a nice routine to start the day.
But I also like very much the terracotta pattern tiles, the tote bag, the unique vases, the graphic rugs on the wall, the blue and white wool rugs in the cabanas, the solid oak stools etc so many pieces we created for Casa Mãe, and there is a story behind each and all of them so it is very difficult for me to pick one!!
“Each piece we created for Casa Mãe has a story.”
I have my routine already, once a week my perfect day off in Lagos starts with a nice takeaway matcha latte with homemade almond milk. I’m really happy that we have this matcha now mastered by our barista! This whilst I watch that the breakfast is running smoothly with me, not on duty.
Then I go to the farmers’ market to get some flowers, chat with some producers, check what’s in season and buy some fruits we don’t have in our farms.
Then back at Casa Mãe, I pick some more greens and flowers from our gardens and I catch up with our gardeners. It’s so relaxing to see plants growing and collecting the produce.
Once all that is done, I take a big super green juice to go to the beach or I go sailing. I like to go to Meia Praia as I enjoy the clear horizon, the quietness and the long walks there, it’s perfect for a swim as well. When I go sailing we meet with some fishermen friends for some sunset with Vinho Verde and grilled fish. I also love going to the secret beaches, difficult to access next to Carrapateira, so wild and preserved there.
I haven’t been travelling for the last two years because of Casa Mãe and I have a loooong list of hotels I would like to visit.
I guess that a favourite hotel is a hotel where you have special memories… I had a very special experience at Hôtel Particulier Montmartre in Paris, this small hotel is set in a very beautiful garden, it doesn’t feel like it’s in Paris but in some quiet and charming countryside. Like, in a place where time is somehow suspended and it’s the old way of living again…
I especially remember this long sunny breakfast in the garden, antique old fashion garden chairs, linen and tableware, so cosy and intimate. It felt so special, unique and authentic – and so comfortable.
A favourite hotel would be a place that manages to get you to grasp special moments and create beautiful memories.
Thank you too!
If you feel like not doing much Casa Mãe will be perfect for that, but if you want some action you will be happy too. Note that Lagos can get a little touristy in high season but it is also an ideal base to explore the well-kept secrets of the wild part of the Western Algarve, and its many amazing beaches.
Casa Mãe will provide you with their own maps of the local footpaths (great for jogging, walking and cycling) as well as the best restaurant recommendations in Lagos.
Two of our favourite places to eat in Lagos are Escondidinho for Portuguese food, and Tasca do Kiko for delicious tapas to share.
Watch the video above which we did with Condé Nast Traveller. In it we talk about Foz do Douro - the seaside neighbourhood in Porto where we grew up. check out the Full article on their website.
Casa Mãe is a boutique hotel located in Lagos in the south-western Algarve.
Faro (FAO) – 90km
Lisbon (LIS) – 298km
Porto (OPO) – 588km
The closest airport is Faro airport. From there you can take a taxi, a transfer or hire a car (1 hour). Casa Mãe can also arrange a private transfer.
Driving from Lisbon takes about 2.5 hours. Hiring a car is recommended if you wish to explore the region and the beautiful beaches and villages nearby.
From Lisbon take the train to Tunes (3.4 hours) and from there take the train to Lagos (1 hour). Tickets can be bought online or at the station up to the last minute, but if the train is full (more likely in high season) you will have to wait for the next one.
© Photos by JO&SO and courtesy of Casa Mãe.
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