One of the best party destinations in Europe, the nightlife-loving resort town of Albufeira is home to sandy beaches, striking cliffs…and lots of all-inclusive resorts. Now, the buffets and bars at area all-inclusives aren’t exactly known for their quality and assortment, and hotel interiors and decor rarely wow. But for most travelers looking for some affordable fun in the sun, an all-inclusive stay is just the ticket. Take a look at the top-ranked all-inclusive resorts in Albufeira.
Falesia Mar by 3HB is a mid-range apartment complex set on its own private clifftop enclave. There's not a great deal in the immediate surroundings, though lovely beaches are accessible on foot. Its 240 apartments are roomy and equipped with basic cooking facilities, but they have dated furnishings and tube-style TVs. A major gripe is the small swimming pool, which can get crowded during peak season, though kids do have a small separate pool. The hotel has a spacious though rather dated-looking buffet restaurant that's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and caters to all-inclusive guests. Reports suggest that the food is generally decent with more variety than most. There's also a poolside snack bar, while the Bela Vista bar offers evening entertainment and sea views.
Adriana Beach Club is a vast, sprawling place with a number of low-lying buildings with red-clay-tiled roofs, spread over 42 acres of lush green lawn that backs onto a golden-sand beach. While some areas look modern and attractive -- the glistening, bright lobby and serene Al-Gharb Restaurant, for example -- many areas are dated and furnished with mismatched decor. Where this hotel really shines is outdoors, where a freeform pool and plethora of sports and games facilities are available. Many guests choose to go the all-inclusive route, which includes local spirits, wine, and beer, and food at the hotel’s three restaurants. The dining options consist of a large buffet restaurant serving broadly Mediterranean food three times a day, and two smaller buffet eateries that need to be booked in advance.
To be clear: Travelers wanting to be in the thick of the Albufeira action will want to look elsewhere. But for those wanting to do little more than visit the beach, hang out by the pool, and indulge in all-inclusive food and drinks -- this Vila Gale outpost can make a fine place to vacation. The quiet vibe is apparent right off the bat, as the hotel sits in a secluded residential area. Even at nearly two-thirds full, we didn't hear any ruckus or party-hard guests, so despite having a family-friendly vibe, this is a peaceful hotel. The style is pleasantly modern, if unmemorable, with pops of color in the lobby to offset the dark, clean-lined furniture. Rooms have been given a subtle overhaul and have a generically modern look (as of 2016). They also include air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and kitchenettes, and some have up to two bedrooms.
The 283-suite, upper-middle-range Salgados Palm Village is one of a handful of large, contemporary resort complexes in the purpose-built development between the Algarve towns of Armacao de Pera and Albufeira. The modern design and ample features (like 10 pools, three restaurants, and two bars) scattered around landscaped gardens certainly feel impressive, though it can feel a little short on ambience off-season -- not helped by its remote location. Plenty of kid-friendly facilities keep families happy, while couples can use neighboring spa facilities for a fee. Most guest are impressed by the size of the suites, but less so the quality of the buffet restaurant. But be aware that the hotel only operates as an all-inclusive property between April and October.
Luna Alpinus is a mid-range, all-apartment complex located in the peaceful and largely residential neighborhood of Acoteias. While set away from the lively nightlife of Albufeira (about a 15-minute drive away), there are a few decent restaurants in the area and the stunning cliffs of Praia da Falesia are within walking distance. The 185 spacious apartments have generic wood furnishings, but they come with well-equipped kitchenettes, balconies or terraces, and air-conditioning, plus Wi-Fi is free throughout. Two pool areas cater to different crowds -- one is a quiet pool and the other a lively one with activities and entertainment. Same as Salgados, Alpinus is far from any nightlife and food is reportedly average, but Salgados gets the edge for its contemporary design and extensive features (for example, 10 pools to Alpinus' two).
The three-pearl Luna Miramar comprises 120 studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments set in the center of Albufeira, midway between its picturesque Old Town and nightlife hub of "The Strip." A 2014 renovation polished up public areas but rooms, with antique-looking wooden furniture and white tile, feel underwhelming in comparison. Apartments do have well-equipped kitchenettes and balconies or terraces, but in-room Wi-Fi costs a fee and is unreliable (compare to Alpinus, which has free Wi-Fi throughout). Poor design means the outdoor pool area gets a lot of shade, plus guests complain that there aren't enough loungers, though a heated indoor pool and some spa facilities are a bonus. Although occasionally marred by noisy groups, the vibe is generally fun and family-oriented.
The 287-room Auramar Beach Resort is a lower-middle-range hotel that backs up to Praia dos Aveiros, a secluded cove with a sandy beach. Although the property is about a 20-minute walk from the center of Albufeira, the hotel offers a free shuttle bus to town a few times a day. Guests -- primarily couples though some families -- typically stay all-inclusive and half-board options are available, but food receives mixed reviews. Another drawback is the dated and worn decor throughout the property (Luna Miramar has same datedness issues in its rooms, but its common areas are fresh from a 2014 renovation). The dated rooms have mini-fridges, old tube-style TVs (Luna has flat-screens) and balconies -- often with sea views -- but they're in need of a revamp and bathrooms particularly show their age. Features include two large outdoor pools, as well as an indoor pool, sauna, and sports facilities.