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If you’re a fan of Lisbon or you’re thinking of planning a trip there, you might’ve heard of neighbouring area Comporta.
Chances are though, you might not’ve. Seasoned visitors and locals keep this little gem close to their deeply tanned chests.
Picture a sleepy seaside freguesia boasting about 60km of completely pristine white sands. It’s forbidden for them to be built on. Year-round, you’ll find world-class seafood and each Autumn, the surf becomes fantastic. When you put all that together, it makes sense that one of the world’s best eco hotels can be found here – the Sublime Comporta.
I was lucky enough to spend a weekend exploring the area, finding out if the Sublime deserves its title. If you don’t have time to read the rest of this article (I’m only lightly offended), here’s the long story short: it does. The Sublime is spectacular. The Sublime is eco-sustainable. The Sublime is, yep, sublime. Go there.
Need a bit more convincing? I’d book it for the people watching alone. This is the type of hotel that attracts incredibly fashionable, socially-conscious folk from the world over, each adding to the air of laid back, traveller cool. In 2019, it received the Biosphere Certification for its environmentally conscious efforts. Chatting to guests and staff, everybody has a vested interest in saving the planet (whilst having a seriously nice time).
Neutral colours, reclaimed wooden furniture and rustic fixtures are brought up to date with state-of-the-art everything. The atmosphere is serene, yet somehow electric. There’s striking artwork abound, but it’s more fun to check out who’s on the table next to you.
The longer you stay, the more whispers you hear about guests past. Madonna and Shakira have been spotted at Cavalos na Areia horse riding school, just up the road. Kate Moss and Carla Bruni have been known to spend summers in Comporta.
Dynamic folk lounge around, chatting animatedly over cocktails and cappuccinos. Outdoor meals are surrounded by truly stunning pine and cork trees, that famous Portuguese light bathing everything in a golden glow.
Your stay begins with a golf buggy ride to your cabana (there are bicycles available, too – but who can be bothered in this heat?), where a staff member explains how to use your room’s jazzy electronics. Floor-to-ceiling windows expose the room’s bucolic surrounds, little terraces kitted out with chairs for romantic private sundowners looking out to the forest.
Most of the rooms boast deep, freestanding baths and huge walk-in showers, as well as flat screen TVs (not that you’ll watch them) and coffee machines. Suites and villas feature private swimming pools, and they’re truly epic, flanked by fire pits and lounge areas dug into the ground.
Most exciting are the nine Bio Pool Suites. Overlooking one of Europe’s largest biological pools, they include private terraces that allow guests to plunge straight into the freshwater.
With this accommodation, the hotel’s sustainability stance is deepened, as the water is solely treated with aquatic plants. No chemicals are used whatsoever.
This makes it a living ecosystem and as such, different species of plants and animals coexist in perfect harmony. So harmonious, light sleepers might need the earplugs provided – the frogs get up to all sorts come nightfall.
It’s possible to get even closer to nature in the organic permaculture garden, a true destination in itself. Home to more than 300 varieties of herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers (of course, widely used in the spa, restaurants and bar) there are special sensorial experiences abound.
Designed to be low-impact and sustainable, using reclaimed materials and positioning that disturbs as few trees as possible, the garden’s solar panels and smart water systems are a sight to behold. Most distracting is the 12-seater Food Circle, a super intimate farm-to-table restaurant, its glass walls blending seamlessly into the lush surrounds.
Drawing on the principles of permaculture, the menu focuses on sustainable production and the use of fire to create culinary magic. I guarantee you a meal here will never be forgotten, as ancient cooking rituals are revived under glittering stars.
In fact, the entire trip will leave an indelible mark on your memory. That said, it’s deeply comforting to know staff and owners are working tirelessly to keep this place around forever, should you ever fancy a refresh…
THINGS TO DO NEARBY:
The point of a holiday in Comporta is that there’s blissfully little to do – but if you get bored easily, there’s more than enough here to fill your diary. Try surfing (best off season), 4×4 rides, boat trips and some water sports. Don’t leave without booking a horse ride over rice paddies and onto that glistening stretch of beach – here’s your best chance of spotting Madonna before you leave.
Don’t leave without wandering around the boutiques in the main town, checking out Lemlem kaftans and neon-hued children’s toys, before a stellar lunch at one of the world-class restaurants (book in advance during high season).
The best has to be Cavalariça, tucked away in an unassuming former stable. Super talented and ever-humble chef Bruno cut his teeth with Lisbon legend Nuno Mendes (also of London’s Chiltern Firehouse), that same flair for melding unexpected ingredients clearly evident in every dish. Regional produce and unusual flavour combinations delight and inspire, while utterly delicious and super inventive cocktails flow – get the Smoky Bastard, spiked with Tawny port.
I loved pork shoulder croquettas, clams in chicken broth with grilled coriander toasts, and potato gratin chips. I can’t stress enough how special this restaurant is. It’s been a month and I’m still thinking about the vanilla parfait, with black sesame sponge cake and blowtorched Italian meringue.
Locals tell me Sal is Madonna’s favourite beach shack, down on Praia do Pego. Go for a plate of lightly battered calamari, feeling the wind in your hair and sand between your toes. But mine? Sublime Comporta Beach Club (no prizes for guessing their sister establishment), with burning sunsets, and truly stunning turbot. Order that, with Sangria, simple grilled vegetables and Sublime fried rice.
HOW TO GET THERE:
The easiest way to get to (and around) Comporta is via hire car from Lisbon airport. But not everyone wants to drive on holiday, and if you really want to travel in style, go for a pre-booked transfer.
We had an amazing experience with Blacklane, who sent a super lovely driver (in a shiny Mercedes, no less) to pick us up. They arrived early, brought snacks, masks, *and* tolerated a mild ribbing over Portugal’s performance in Euro 2020 (little did we know what was coming next for England). Simply punch in your pick up and drop off location, and they’ll make sure you get to where you need to be (dipping in that Bio Pool, stat).