Praia D’El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort

If you don’t like photos of beaches and sunsets, this probably isn’t going to be the post for you.

Earlier in the year, I spent a good few weeks trawling through various websites to plan a perfect Portuguese trip. We wanted somewhere not too far from Lisbon, but very quiet with no distractions. I’d initially settled on Cascais or Sintra for a location, but few of the hotels met my criteria (and the ones that did were way out of our budget) plus it seems quite touristy, so I started looking further afield.

And that’s when I found the Marriott Praia D’el Rey. After making sure Husband really didn’t mind the hour drive from Lisbon airport, we booked ourselves into an oceanfront room. This was only a couple of weeks before the trip as we’d left it really late to book so many of the rooms were sold out, but we’d definitely choose oceanfront again.

We’d had a long morning before we checked into our hotel – picking up the car from the airport took two stressful hours which meant we arrived much later than we’d planned to.

But the second we walked into the airy lobby, we instantly relaxed. Paolo at the front desk was amazing, and continued to be amazing over the course of our week. I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels but no one has ever offered the level of service he consistently provided. After promising us one of the best rooms (it really was), he introduced us to his colleague Patricia who told us all about the features of the hotel, and introduced us to my new favourite treat – ginja de Óbidos, a sour cherry liquor served in a chocolate cup. Delicious.

The amazing welcome we received then continued with every member of staff who always greeted us with “Bom Dia” or “Olá”. We had turndown service every night from friendly staff who made sure we had everything we needed, wonderfully attentive service at breakfast – everyone was exceptional.

The main draw for us at Praia D’el Rey was the lack of distractions. We spent every day (bar one) just lying on a lounger on the beach. It was something both of us needed after a busy and stressful few months at work – the opportunity to do nothing but listen to podcasts, read, or just nap was too good to pass up. If you’re looking for an action packed vacation, this isn’t it. The Marriott is on a fairly big resort of houses and a big golf course which is the main reason why people visit, but there really is very little else. There’s one tiny shop about 2.5 miles away – you can get a shuttle, but we decided to walk and ended up not finding it. We instead chose to go the supermarket in Óbidos to stock up on water and snacks but that was a 20 minute drive away so having a car is a must.

The hotel has a few different pools, a gym, a spa, and the beautiful beach. I treated myself to a trip to the spa for an incredibly enjoyable Elemis facial, and they also have the full range of treatments available. I was keen to get back to the beach afterwards but it would have been lovely to spend more time up at the spa.

Within the hotel, there are a few different options for food – we ate at the more formal Emprata restaurant on our last night, and it was incredible. Paolo had requested the best table for us, and we watched the sunset over a beautiful three course meal. My favourite course – my dessert which was inspired by ginja de obidos.

They have a couple of more casual dining options, and of course room service which we had twice because we couldn’t drag ourselves away from our view. We did end up eating at the Contato lobby bar most evenings because we got quite addicted to their tempura vegetables and also just because it was a lovely place to hang out.

The rooms have recently been renovated and have a beautiful beachy feel about them. We had a huge comfy kingsize bed, big fluffy pillows (my favourite), and places to enjoy our room service inside and out. I really couldn’t have asked for anything more. On the Sunday evening, we watched a beautiful Gujarati wedding in the courtyard in front of our room – what an amazing venue to have for your wedding!

When we checked out, Paolo and Patricia came over to say goodbye and to check that we’d had a good trip. They gave us some hints on the best time to visit next time – we could tell it was getting busier as the week went by, and I’m sure it’s even busier now the schools have broken up but apparently October is a great time to visit. It’s so great to know that the Praia D’el Rey is just a short flight away for the next time that we need to get away from our day-to-day lives.

We can’t wait to return. Mostly to eat more Ginja.

Edinburgh – There and Back

Edinburgh15_2In a repeat of last year’s pre-summer holiday, we’ve just got back from a few days in Edinburgh.  Feeling a bit more like locals, we didn’t want to repeat the touristy stuff from before, and we mainly spent the three days walking around.  I finally got my 35,000 steps badge from Fitbit which I was very excited about (I was tempted to carry on to 40,000 but I was quite tired at that point).

Getting there
We took the train again, wanting to avoid the stress of going through airport security.  Not only that, but we went first class on Virgin East Coast.

I’ll let that statement sit for a while to give the impression first class was amazing.  It was not.

I’m glad we didn’t actually pay for the upgrade because I would have been epically disappointed.  I had so many Nectar points built up which I converted into East Coast vouchers so it seemed like a fun idea but honestly, there was barely any difference.

The chairs were supposed to recline, but Husband’s chairs were broken there and back, whereas mine was just covered in stains.  The food was ok – sandwiches that were a bit stale, odd rose flavoured cake (although on the way back, we were offered lunch and afternoon tea, so got different cake which was nice).  The first class lounge at Edinburgh was hilariously bad though.  A coffee machine, a water fountain, one type of crisps and one type of biscuit.  Not even little cans of fizzy drink or anything like that!  Needless to say, we would not make the effort to pay for first class.

Where we stayed

Edinburgh15_1We’re building up points on our Marriott account, so choose the Residence Inn in the Quartermile –  perfect choice.  Not only was it super cheap (for Edinburgh), but it was just far enough away from the city centre to avoid the noise.  The Quartermile is an amazingly quiet area right next to the University, with restaurants and coffee shops surrounding our hotel.  I want to live there.

There was supposed to be an Aurora Borealis when we were there, but we couldn’t stay up late enough.  It was weird enough that Edinburgh stays light so late.

Edinburgh15_3

This was 11pm!

Next up – all the yummy food we ate.