The Top Resort Hotels in Spain and Portugal in 2017

Penha Longa Resort
Photo: Courtesy of Penha Longa Resort

Portugal has been on a serious roll lately — so much so that Travel + Leisure named it Destination of the Year for 2016 — in part thanks to a revitalization of urban centers like Lisbon and Porto. The wine industry in the Douro Valley is also thriving (and bottles are unbelievably reasonable). And then there are the beaches and charming coastal towns: they’re less known to American travelers than those of France and Italy, but that’s part of the appeal. The country’s moment in the sun continues with Convento do Espinheiro, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa set in the town of Évora, taking top honors among resort hotels in Spain and Portugal. Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the top attractions of the Alentejo region, which is enjoying a growing popularity for its sweeping, open landscapes, robust food and wine culture, and rich history. Convento do Espinheiro, which is housed in a former convent building with vaulted cloisters and rambling grounds, provided visitors with a winning combination of atmosphere, setting, and luxury. One respondent described it as “one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.” They raved about its “excellent service, dreamy comfort, extraordinary history,” and restaurant, which “will blow your mind.” Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as City or Resort based on their locations and amenities. No. 2 on this year’s list was the Penha Longa Resort, which is located in the historic resort town of Sintra, 30 minutes outside Lisbon. Set in the rolling hills of a 545-acre national park fringed by two spectacular beaches, the property houses a 27-hole golf course, a 19th-century palace, and a Michelin-starred restaurant. The only Spanish property to feature on this year’s list was the Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa. This legendary property, which opened in 1954 and went on to become one of Europe’s most famous celebrity beach haunts in the 1960s and 70s, still attracts a glamorous crowd with its impeccable styling and lush, landscaped gardens.

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3. Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa, Marbella, Spain

Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa
Courtesy of Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa

Score: 88.76

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2. Penha Longa Resort, Sintra, Portugal

Penha Longa Resort
Courtesy of Penha Longa Resort

Score: 92.85

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1. Convento do Espinheiro, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa, Évora, Portugal

Convento do Espinheiro, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa
Courtesy of Convento do Espinheiro

Score: 94.22

When visitors travel to Évora, in Portugal’s Alentejo region, they do so to experience the walled town’s impressive Roman history. It makes sense, then, that they might appreciate staying in a property with a little history of its own — such as the Convento do Espinheiro, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa. This imposing whitewashed convent was originally constructed in the 15th century, after the Virgin Mary appeared to a shepherd next to a hawthorn tree, or espinheiro, on the site. It is now one of the region’s best-known properties, with 90 atmospheric rooms, two pools (one indoor, one outdoor) and a wine bar located in a former cistern. “One of the most unique hotels we have ever stayed at,” one respondent said. “Amazing property, and spectacular surroundings.”

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