Nestled among luscious greens on the top of a cliff overlooking the glittering sea in Portugal’s beautiful Algarve region is a tucked-away getaway gem: Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda is everything that you want from a dreamy, relaxing holiday. When leaving rainy London (on the day of the US election, no less – how much more depressing can it get?) I could only dream of landing in a seaside paradise that wouldn’t only live up to my expectations but by far exceed them.
Waking up to a breathtaking sea view and sitting down to an Instagram-worthy breakfast buffet packed full of vegan options (almond and soy milks, cereal, an array of breads and the richest selection of fruit I’ve ever seen in a hotel) in front of the ever-present glistening sea of Porto de Mós Beach, I dare you not to feel ridiculously happy. This is true luxury.
Vivenda Miranda aims to give its guests “a relaxing holiday or a wellness break” – and it truly lives up to this aim. The perfect oasis of calm, the hotel features an idyllic turquoise pool with Jacuzzi, several massage facilities, a Neal’s Yard beauty spa, a sauna, and different yoga retreats. I was offered a regenerative yoga class in front of the above pool and sea view – at sunset, no less – which was both relaxing and energising. The hotel also offers spa breaks and personal training – all in its stunning seaside setting.
One thing you notice once you set foot in the hotel is its unique design. The surrounding area features a smattering of luxurious, beautiful hotels – but what sets Vivenda Miranda apart is its personal approach to design. Each room is individually styled by interior designer Christina, whom we had a chat with.
“My desire is simple – I want to do things that are different”, explains Christina. “(I want to create) hotel rooms that you can’t find anywhere else. Create individuality. I paint every wall of the rooms differently, using a wide colour range.”
Each room in the hotel is intricately studied and very personally decorated. Not two of the hotel’s 25 rooms are the same and each is carefully, individually designed by Christina. “I often misuse furniture and other objects; I give them a totally different usage. A door becomes a table; parts of a window are used as a bed head. I don’t like to buy new furniture as uniqueness is not guaranteed anymore. Many hotels use the same style of furniture. I try to restore old sofas, armchairs and chairs. I search for interesting fabrics and use a local upholsterer to change the look. Square tables are re-shaped round, table tops will be painted. Other pieces I find on the street or in nature. Years ago I stumbled over huge tree trunks. I painted them gold and they are now used for some gorgeous sofa tables in the restaurant. Others are used as bedside tables. I use bamboo or palm leaves, and I have many precious pieces on stock which I found on flea markets in Lisbon or Porto. I also love to see what I can find in antique shops. I also paint or use mixed media for the art which goes on the walls.”
Experiencing the design and atmosphere of Vivenda Miranda makes for an unforgettable getaway – a fine blend of holistic relaxation and exquisite design – but it’s also a haven for vegans. Offering vegetarian, vegan and raw food options, the hotel caters to every wellness quest and beyond. We had the opportunity to sample a three-course vegan dinner.
The starter was a salad with warm mushrooms on gorgeous blue plates – and it was as far as you can get from the typical “vegan option”. The stereotypes of vegans only eating salad is turned completely on its head by this indulgent version which makes perfect use of the local ingredients.
One thing that pleasantly surprised me about Portugal is the country’s familiarity with vegan faux meats, such as seitan – not frequently found in Mediterranean countries. This dish was surprisingly “meaty” and filling, and the selection of vegetables on the side was so much more flavourful than you’d expect. Even meat eaters would love this main course.
If you’re vegan, you’re likely to recognise the following situation: you’re in a restaurant, even a vegetarian one, perusing the dessert options…only to find that once again you’re stuck with fruit or sorbet. Nothing wrong at all with either of these options – it’s just that sometimes restaurants tend to forget that vegans, just like everyone else, love an indulgent chocolate treat. Not so at Vivenda Miranda, where we were treated to not one but three layers of raw chocolate, including white chocolate, with a hazelnut sauce and fresh fruit. One of the best vegan desserts I’ve ever had (and that says something, trust me, as I’ve had more than my fair share!).
All in all, our two-day break at Vivenda Miranda had it all: spectacular views, unique design, fantastic plant-based flavours, an energising yoga session and a bit of seaside warmth before returning to dreary November! Highly recommended to anyone seeking a relaxing break, a wellness retreat or just a sensory experience unlike any other holiday.
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This post has sponsored content. All photos by David Camilli.