The location: if you want to surf, kitesurf, cycle, run or go horse-riding, and get a tan, this is the place.
A really lovely hotel, not absolutely 100% perfect, but the staff were clearly very keen to ensure that we were happy and particularly the concierge was fantastic.
The first impression of the building is very corporate, very modern, minimalist, and without the sunlight streaming in through the panorama windows and white linen curtains, might have seemed cold. The pale blue of the floors and some of the fittings was a clever way of bringing the outside in, and avoided the sometimes dated monochrome look of some hotels.
We couldn't check in early, so went to the pool, had some lunch, accidentally stole another guests's sunlounger, but he was very gracious about it.
Room was enormous, the widest and most comfortable bed I've seen (I now want one!), with a separate seating area and large balcony. Very minimalist again, but it works, as if Coco Chanel had gone over the rooms once they were decorated,and taken one thing away. The many mirrors make the room seem even brighter, and the bathroom area is well designed. The transparent loo cubicle isn't really an issue, most hotels these days have them anyway.
Great toiletries by Aromatherapy Associates, good shower, really good body lotion, and best of all, two washbasins.
In terms of things to do, this is the perfect playground. On Friday afternoon, we rented some bikes and cycled along the separate coastal bike path down to the beach, about 15 mins by bike, where we watched the kite surfers, and after an amusing encounter with the boy from the Information stand, who said there was nowhere at all to rent surfboards or kites, and that everyone had brought their own, found the surf shop 20m away. The lady in the surf shop was great, very relaxed indeed, but knew what she was talking about - after some back and forth about wind conditions and instructor availability, we arranged a kite surfing lesson for the next day for one of us. A walk along the beach took us to the small bar at the other end, where we sat in the breeze drinking Coronas, then back to the hotel, a few snacks on the balcony to watch the sun set, and a very good dinner in the restaurant. The Portuguese fish stew (pretty similar to Paella) was fantastic, so much beautifully cooked fish that we couldn't finish it. Vinho Verde to go with it was great too. Service was good, perhaps a bit confused with the separate sushi bar menu etc, and a tiny bit of a delay in taking orders, but we are on holiday not at a City lunch meeting.
At 8.30am Saturday, we got some bikes, cycled over the golf course to the stables about 1 mile away, and found the Rui Barroso riding school, where we had booked an hour's riding with the Concierge the night before. Barroso is one of six stables, with a large indoor riding school, a racetrack and outdoor school, and some nice gentle paths through the woods to plod along if you would rather not have a proper lesson. They even had some riding boots to lend me, and while the riding helmets are not brand new, there were enough sizes to accommodate our big heads. We had an hour's hack on winding sandy paths, then booked again for the next day to have a lesson. Good, well-trained horses. Back to the hotel just in time for a good breakfast, then the hotel shuttle to the beach, and the rest of the day was spent learning to kite surf and relaxing. There are also sun loungers with wind screens and umbrellas to rent, EUR 18.50 for two for four hours, which wasn't too bad. A restaurant tucked away in a corner of the beach serves full meals, but we didn't eat there. Looked pleasant enough though.
After a little waiting around for the shuttle back to the hotel, we went for an early evening jog around the golf course. That was beautiful, the views over the heather to the sea are inspiring, and they haven't gone crazy with manicuring the golf course and gardens, leaving the wild beauty of the landscape untouched. That was the charm of the hotel, it was slick and new and elegant, but the surrounding nature, the dead quiet at night and the sea, made it feel luxurious without being artificial.
Things I would improve:
- The food in the pool restaurant: was ok, but some of it seemed heavy, could have done with lighter sandwiches, maybe a fruit platter, slightly fresher presentation.
- The showers and loos below the pool: there was no soap nor shower gel there, which seemed odd.
- Ugly picture of purple lady in a bikini behind the bar, but I guess that's just my taste.
- A printed map of the area (stables, beach, running route) would be a nice touch.
Things I loved:
- The BED! The room overall and the balcony too.
- The landscape
- Concierge service, activities
- Pool area was great
- The very friendly and genuine staff
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Inspired by the timeless beauty of the Atlantic coast, The Oitavos seeks to embrace rather than compete with nature. Its bold design, sleek lines and elegantly simple interiors focus attention outwards – on the historical and natural elements of the grounds and the drama and romance of the Atlantic Ocean. A stunning blue colour palate will cool your senses, blending with the colours of the sea and the violets of the flowers dotted across the landscape. Contemporary sculpture and paintings by Portuguese artists will enrapture against the white canvas. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Oitavos Hotel Cascais