The owners of Vila Joya [1] have chosen its name with due consideration. The 'House of Joy' or 'Jewelry Box' in the original translation, is a small oriental palazzo directly situated on the picturesque Atlantic coast on the Algarve close to Albufeira. Valuable and precious objects are put into a jewelry box and in fact, they want to create a sense of finding a rare treasure by this aptly chosen name. The champagne is on ice upon arrival, always a sign of good things to come and best enjoyed on the south facing terrace. We meet our gracious host and take the time to settle in to observe the beauty of this hotel, which feels more like a sumptuous beautiful home with personal touches all around. The owner herself called Joya lives here and therefore adds all her personal touches to these beautiful surroundings.

You find Vila Joya at a breathtakingly beautiful spot, where Moorish architecture coupled with the fragrance of the Atlantic Ocean help to conjure the charm of a fairy tale. It’s a house of discriminating taste, which grants everything you could wish for and opens a window to paradise. The very moment you are received by the Maitre de Plaisir in the fabulous entrance hall under its ornate ceiling, you experience the relaxing atmosphere of nonchalant elegance in the 12 unique rooms and 8 suites, all of which have a view to the Atlantic, stylishly decorated with shades of oat, sand and white, facing the coast with beautiful natural sunlight entering each room.

The sunny garden with palm trees, cypresses and beautiful flowers invites the guest for a walk or just to linger for a while. Bright sand dunes and an impressing coastline provide a privileged location for Portugal’s most popular golf-courses which offer perfect recreation in a supreme setting, Vila Joya is like an exquisite Garden of Eden, where your dreams can come true. If ever there was a place that one could call paradise, surely this would be it.

Once settled, what better way to reconnect with your senses than to unwind in an oasis dedicated solely to relaxation. A sleek and modern approach to wellness, the spa has a series of truly unique treatments which focuses on water, air and light, as well as sound and touch. It employs a unique design that rejoices in regeneration of the body and mind making energy flow and letting go from everyday pressure in our increasingly hectic world. You can also enjoy a Yoga class and a swim in the pool by the front garden which overlooks the sea or play a game of golf on some of the world top golf courses easily reachable from the hotel.

Austrian-born chef Dieter Koschina has achieved a culinary first for his adopted country by propelling Vila Joya into The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. This two-Michelin-starred restaurant combines local produce with northern European cooking techniques, so guinea fowl is stuffed with black truffles and artichokes, roasted goose liver is served on a broccoli purée with smoked eel, while the country’s ubiquitous bacalhau – dried and salted cod – is confited and paired with beetroot coulis and yogurt. Of course the chef will cater for any requests should guests prefer vegetarian options. In short, not to be missed and highly recommended as it is simply the most memorable dining experience and paramount to the character of the hotel.

As we grow accustomed to our comforts we observe how attention to detail here is the order of the day, yet you never feel as if you are in a hotel more like a home where things magically appear and everything is there for your well-being. Pair the world´s best culinary hotel with the location of Vila Joya and you have a very rare combination of modest opulence, dining experiences and serene surroundings you will not readily find elsewhere. So it is with some reluctance, a cool wind in our hair and a sweet smell of the first flowers of spring, that we wave goodbye to our friendly staff at Vila Joya. We will remember this place, knowing we will always be welcome here. Heading back to Lisbon, we look forward to boarding our Tap Portugal flight the national carrier, which rounds our Portuguese trip to perfection before arriving in London, already contemplating our return to paradise.

[1] World´s Best Culinary Hotel 2017 by the Boutique Hotel Awards