One of the most party-hearty spots in the Algarve, Albufeira is famous for its nightclubs, pubs, and strikingly pretty beaches. Here’s where to stay in Albufeira on the cheap.
"Modern" and "chic" are words that can rarely be applied to Albufeira hotels (especially value hotels), but they're both appropriate adjectives for Aqua Pedra dos Bicos Design Beach Hotel, a colorful property with a real emphasis on contemporary design. This continues to the smartly minimalist rooms, all of which have furnished balconies (many with views of the sea), flat-screen TVs, minibars, and Wi-Fi for a fee. The hotel's Serenata restaurant serves Mediterranean-inspired food in buffet style for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which can be taken outside on the terrace. There are two bars, one of which is poolside, the other is on the roof with superb panoramic views over Albufeira. There is a saltwater pool surrounded by a lawn and sun loungers (though these fill up quickly during busy periods). On top of this, the hotel offers direct access to a sandy beach.
While Aqua Pedra dos Bicos is chic and contemporary, Hotel Apartmento Brisa Sol exposes its datedness right away, with a strikingly wavy '60s mod-style exterior. Many spaces inside the resort-like property could also use an update. However, for those who don't mind the time-warp feeling of the hotel, Brisa Sol is a solid mid-range option, especially for its excellent, walkable location between the old and new towns and a beach (it's a 10-minute walk to the beach from Brisa Sol, while Aqua Pedra has direct access). The 174 rooms are clean and simple, outfitted with small kitchenettes, hardwood floors, and air-conditioning. Also provided are coffee machines, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs with 13 channels, and well-maintained bathrooms sporting walk-in showers or shower/tub combos in upgraded rooms. Wi-Fi requires a fee and tends to be slow. The property is packed with activities and features, though some spaces could stand to be updated and require a fee.
In terms of modernity, the 198-room Eden Resort is several notches above Brisa Sol, but we ranked it third due to its countryside location that's a 10-minute drive from Albufeira and the beach (Brisa Sol is within walking distance to the old and new towns and the beach, so won't require taxi fare or gas money). Eden consists of spacious and simple apartments, townhouses, and villas with fully equipped kitchens and furnished outdoor spaces, some with private pools. The buffet restaurant serves all meals and all-inclusive rates are available, but reviews are mixed. Light fare also is available at three bars. The three outdoor pools -- one for adults only, and two for families -- draw most of the action here, and they can get loud and rowdy. An indoor pool is found at the spa, which also offers treatments, a sauna, and Turkish bath.
Paladim Aparthotel is a simple value apartment property in Albufeira, within walking distance of nightlife, dining, and beaches. Its 63 studios and one-bedroom apartments, while much less modern than the accommodations at Eden Resort, are clean and perfectly adequate for most travelers, with cooking facilities and lounge areas. Also note that there is no Wi-Fi in the rooms, as opposed to Eden Resort, which has free Wi-Fi throughout. Paladim's grounds are small, but the pool is a good size and the restaurant offers decent value for money; there's even some evening entertainment offered. While far from glamorous, for a cheap and friendly aparthotel with self-catering facilities and better-than-average food, this is a strong option.
The 31-unit Novochoro Apartments is a quiet, laid-back place with few frills. Like Eden Resort, it is away from the action (Novochoro is a 10-minute drive from Albufeira and Oura Beach), but Eden Resort is considerably more modern and comprehensive, with features not found at Novochoro, like a spa and kids' club. Paladim also lacks those features, but that property has many shops, bars, and restaurants within a short stroll. Novochoro's studios and apartments are a mixed bag -- some are fresh and bright, while others are outdated and lack air-conditioning. All have fully equipped kitchens plus balconies or terraces, but Wi-Fi isn't available in rooms. The outdoor pool is the most popular feature, and breakfast and lunch are served at the lobby snack bar, which also provides drinks. A shuttle runs into town for a fee. Since all units have kitchens, this place attracts self-sufficient guests who don't need a lot of features.
The 74-room Hotel Sol e Mar is a mid-range option in an excellent location on the beach in Albufeira's old town. The beach is easy to access, and the city's lively restaurants, bars, and shops are within easy walking distance. Rooms are basic and could probably use an update -- furniture and features like mini-fridges are dated, plus there are no coffeemakers -- but they all have a balcony or terrace with nice sea views. The two restaurants get mixed reviews, but breakfast is free and guests can dine right above the beach. The indoor pool looks out onto the beach, but the hotel has no dedicated beach seating. Travelers wanting an outdoor pool will prefer Novochoro Apartments, whose outdoor pool is its most popular feature.
The two-and-a-half-pearl Balaia Mar Hotel is a decent budget option for unfussy travelers. It's three-minutes to the tourist-friendly Santa Eulalia strip, and a 10-minute walk to Praia Maria Luisa. The hotel is old -- expect to find the style is dated and smoke smell lingering in public areas -- and the 32 rooms include powerful air-conditioners, small TVs, and free Wi-Fi that requires constantly re-entering passwords. Many rooms are spacious, though, and some include large balconies. Apartments are also available. There are two pools, a bar with billiards tables, and a restaurant that serves a free breakfast buffet. All-inclusive rates are also available, but hours are restricted. Balaia Mar Hotel's location a 10-minute walk from Praia Maria Luisa may be the best thing about the hotel, but Hotel Sol e Mar really has a really prime spot -- it's one of the few city hotels that abut a beach, and almost everything travelers would be interested in is within an easy walk.