Lagos (or Lagosh as I learnt to say) was one of the highlights from our recent trip to Portugal. All expectations however, were exceeded when we checked into the boutique hotel of Casa Mae. Boasting beautiful suites, home-grown fruits and friendly staff, we knew our stay here would be a special one and how right we were.
As a relatively new hotel, Casa Mae is fast gaining momentum with savvy travellers looking for somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of the main square and be in a place which feels like it’s in a world of its own. Describing itself as ‘more than a hotel’ it is quite easy to see why. In my eyes, it felt like a luxury oasis of tranquillity and relaxation. I was looking for a hotel which would re-charge our batteries and I am honestly so glad I stumbled upon Casa Mae.
About Casa Mae
One of the first things which struck me about Casa Mae, even whilst browsing online, was how unique this hotel is. With 30 bedrooms set among a 7,000 sqm vegetable garden and on the cusp of the city’s walls – it’s in a world of its own.
The hotel doesn’t just boast an ordinary bedroom, it is home to trendy deluxe bedrooms in the main building ‘Jogo Da Bola’, luxury suites in the old house and even three cabanas with their own private patio and outdoor showers. Despite being a relatively small hotel, we never felt on top of other people.
Related: Checking in to Torel Palace, Lisbon
We could have happily stayed at Casa Mae and not venture beyond its doors. And it’s possible to do as the hotel is also home to Orta – a restaurant all about ‘healthy, fresh and sunny flavours’. Sourcing local and organic food, the hotel prides itself on the sustainable products it produces and uses.
One afternoon as we lazed by the swimming pool, we ordered some drinks. I opted for the mojito and I must say, it was the best mojito I’ve ever tasted. It was so fresh as the mint was quite literally picked straight from their garden especially for my drink. I don’t think you could get more natural than that!
An oasis of pure relaxation and happy vibes – that’s how I’d describe Casa Mae.
We stayed in the Esplanada suite which was out of this world. When Sergio showed us to our room, we were awkwardly silent as we just couldn’t believe we would be staying in such a beautiful room. I almost asked “are you sure we’re in the right room?!”
Our suite was located on the top floor of the old house and we overlooked the swimming pool and city. Once we entered the room, we found ourselves in a dressing room with a huge mirror which I loved. In our apartment, we don’t actually have a mirror in our bedroom so to see one and with it being so large, I was very happy! It was such a great space to get ready in and it made me feel the best I have been in ages.
Following on from the dressing room, we passed by a small bathroom which lead us to our amazing bedroom. It was probably the size of our entire apartment which was quite remarkable. The room was flooded with light and the sun bounced off the crisp white walls and solid oak flooring. There was actual windows with shutters which gave such a country-vibe to the room.
Our bed was gigantic and boasted a quirky headboard which added an understated element of colour to the room. The pillows were so fluffy and duvet was so light yet comforting. Hidden away in the corner of the room was a walk-in shower with a huge shower-head. You could literally stand under it and feel like you were in a rain forest down-pour.
Throughout the room we noticed little touches such as the homemade and organic shampoo, soap and body wash in ceramic pots. It felt so different and refreshing to wash with such natural products compared to the shop-bought ones which we brought with us. One of the best things about the room was how there was no TV. We often find ourselves staring into space when watching television and having a break from it for just two days felt amazing. Instead, we used the room’s sound system which played the hotel’s playlist of relaxing, up-beat and a rather funky music too.
However, the pièce de résistance was the huge-surf-board-like free standing bathtub in our bedroom. When I say surf-board-like, I really mean it. It had such a sleek shape and really added a feature to our bedroom. I can honestly say, I had the best baths I’ve ever had in that tub! I can’t tell you how awesome it was to come in, put the radio on and sink into the bath – pure heaven.
I probably shouldn’t say how despite being in a well-known destination for wild bars and clubs, we couldn’t wait to get back to our room and chill out while watching an episode or two of Game of Thrones!
I have to admit, before we arrived I was a little apprehensive about whether we would actually ‘fit in’ to the hotel. It’s the place of beautiful people and it did worry me slightly about whether we would look like the odd ones out.
My worries, however, soon disappeared once we checked-in and sat down outside with our welcome drink of vino verde. Once we were settled, Sergio came over and welcomed us to the hotel. He gave us a map of the city and pointed out where we were based which was very helpful. The most helpful bit of advice he gave, was talking through the list of recommended restaurants, bars and cafes.
At this point in time, Bogdan was craving chicken and we just wanted to grab a quick bite to eat – so nothing fancy. Sergio gave us two recommendations for chicken street-food and so we left the hotel in search for a takeaway. Coming from such a luxurious hotel and embarking on a fast-food, chicken mission was something else – and only something we would ever do! Anyway, I digress. As we only stayed for two nights, we had a limited time in terms of trying their recommendations – but rest assured the ones we did go to were well worth it.
The staff were all lovely and friendly and nothing was ever too big of a problem – whether that be tracking down an iron for us or taking our bags to our room.
What’s nearby the hotel
Despite being a short walk away from the main hub of Lagos, everything was within walking distance and it had the perfect balance between being nearby – yet away from the crowds. As we were only staying for a two nights, we were fairly limited in terms of what we could see and do. The beaches Lagos is known for were about a 20-30 minute walk away from Casa Mae and the marina was a 10 minute walk.
As for the food? Well the amazing chicken from the take-away (with added Portuguese beans) and the list of recommendations provided by the hotel was spot on. We enjoyed numerous breakfasts and pastel de natas at Bora Cafe – their smoked salmon with poached eggs on toast was amazing and set us up perfectly for the day. Bora Cafe is actually the closest recommended cafe near the hotel – which was perfect for those hazy mornings.
But one of the best restaurant experiences throughout our entire Portugal trip had to be at Calhou. The restaurant was located beyond the city walls in a very local area – think high rise flats. As we were moving further away from the city and up a hill, we were beginning to think perhaps we should have just eaten in the main area. However, once we reached the restaurant we were surprised to see it was tiny.
There were probably about 10 tables in the entire restaurant and all of them (minus a shared long table) were reserved! The waitress advised we could either share the table with another couple or we would have to wait. With no waiting time in mind, we joined the couple who probably hated us for that – but there was enough room for everyone!
We ate a delicious meal of seafood cataplana which is renowned as a traditional Portuguese dish. It had layers of potatoes, onions, peppers, herbs, huge prawns and white fish which were steamed in the a vessel. It was delicious and so fresh.
To wash it down, we opted for a jug of red wine sangria which was seriously tasty. And once we finished our dinner, the waitress brought over three bottles and two classy shot glasses. Looking rather confused thinking “Did we order this? Or was it the sangria talking?”, they explained it was on the house – how amazing?! Essentially each bottle had a traditional liquor and spirit in – one tasted exactly like honey, the other one was ginja and the final one quite frankly burnt our throats! But it was worth it.
After that beautiful dinner, we waddled back to the hotel where we watched another episode of GOT and enjoyed our final night at Casa Mae. I’d be lying to you if I wasn’t wishing we were back there chilling in that pool and sinking in the bathtub!