Stylish, laid back, kid-friendly luxury
Nestled amid the soft-scented pine trees of Quinta da Marinha in Cascais, Martinhal Cascais is an oasis of laid-back cool. Luxury design meets an uber child-friendly atmosphere – you’re actually encouraged to go to the spa with the kids.
The hotel’s setting means that you can explore Lisbon, Cascais and Sintra with ease. It has all the mod cons of a modern family resort, stylish but chilled – expect to see surfers walking around barefoot, and happy children running amok and VERY relaxed parents.
We were incredibly lucky to be invited to spend a short break in Martinhal Cascais over the Christmas period. Read on to find out more about our experience, and the hotel itself. Apologies in advance for the photo overload!
Martinhal Cascais Family Resort Review
We flew into Lisbon on Boxing Day, still reeling from a fun but hectic Christmas spent in the Lincolnshire countryside. Our journey from the airport to the resort in Cascais was uneventful, we were lucky to miss the rush hour traffic, and in 40 minutes we had arrived at Martinhal just in time for dinner!
From the moment we arrived we couldn’t help but being impressed. The hotel’s lobby, designed by the award-winning architect João Paciencia is a beautifully modern, yet welcoming space. The reception staff’s couldn’t have been friendlier. They were thorough with information, always smiling, always courteous – even with my very tired 5-year-old who decided to cause havoc in the hotel’s swish reception. After our car was parked by the valet (free service), my son was given an age -specific goodie bag, and we were shown to our gorgeous room.
Kids club: I didn’t take any photos of the kids’ club as there were other children there every time I visited, but it’s a large and colourful space, with lots of engaging activities and friendly supervisors. My son spent a morning there while I enjoyed a beautiful massage in the spa and my mum had a swim and sauna – triple win, everyone was happy. Just outside the kids’ club you’ll find an awesome VW van – the ultimate toy for kids to play in, and at this time of year Santa was waiting inside!
The hotel has a dedicated website for guests where you can follow the week’s programme, access a handy map and find out about any offers happening at the spa.
Whatsapp messaging service: If you need to get in touch with reception or the concierge, but are out and about exploring the hotel, Martinhal has a Whatsapp messaging service to keep you connected at all times.
Wifi: I’m a blogger so having fast and reliable wifi is a must for me. Thankfully Martinhal didn’t disappoint and over 5 days I didn’t experience a single connection breakage.
In-house magician: There is a really lovely magician that shows up at the Terraço restaurant for a free performance every Monday and Friday. If your kid is a budding magician then you can also book a later afternoon workshop on those days for €15pp or €25 for two.
Home-made kid and baby friendly menus: You and your kids will eat delicious, healthy meals non-stop at Martinhal.
The hotel’s lobby and communal areas are an oasis of calm – white interiors, wood, and the extensive use of glass allow the space to blend beautifully with its green surroundings. On the main floor is where you’ll find the reception. As you walk down the glass staircase you’ll have access to the gardens and pool areas, and an activity area with a pool table, books and board games. This is also where two of the hotel’s restaurants are located (with a supervised kids’ area!) as well as the spa.
The beautifully landscaped gardens and three pools allow you to feel completely secluded, whilst still in close proximity to pretty much everything, included the playground, kids’ club and cafe/bar. As we went during the winter season, two of the pool areas were closed for refurbs, but we got to enjoy the fab indoor pool and spa instead.
Martinhal has 68 hotel rooms and 4 suites, ranging from deluxe rooms with a super king size bed, deluxe superior rooms (with bunk beds) and deluxe family connecting rooms – perfect for families with teens. Also great for larger families are the resort’s 12 villas, which with two bedrooms each, an ample and bright living space and daily maid service may be the solution for those wishing to self-cater, but retain the luxury of a hotel. Luckily for me, as I was visiting as a blogger, I was invited to see the others rooms.
Deluxe Superior Room
Our room experience: We stayed in a deluxe superior room, which had a very spacious double for me, a bunk bed that pulls out from the wall (so only the bottom bunk was pulled for my son), and the most lavish bathroom suite with a glass wall (that could be closed for privacy if needed), which is handy for watching your little ones splashing about, or as my child found out – watching cartoons from the bath! The room itself is large, and you could’ve easily fitted a cot in the room if necessary. The hotel’s modern luxury vibe seeps through to the bedroom’s decor, with earthy tones and natural textures blending with the glass bathroom and patio doors. Now, how do I design my home to look exactly like that?!
The deluxe room (below) was a replica of our own, but without the bunk-bed – perfect for a couple with a young baby, or toddler who’s happy to sleep in the main (huge) bed.
Deluxe Family Connecting Rooms
The deluxe family connecting rooms are ideal for children who like their independence but still want to know that mum and dad are just around the corner. The rooms have been cleverly designed, with a living area and sliding wall, allowing the children to hang out whilst the parents have privacy in the sleeping area – genius.
The hotel’s 12 villas are perfect for larger families, or if you’d like to self-cater, with the added benefit of having a daily cleaner and breakfast included. The bright and spacious villas follow the hotel’s clean, minimalist design, the living area featuring double height glass windows which lead you to a private garden area. The villas have the full benefit of the hotel’s facilities, making a villa option the best of both worlds.
The hotel’s dining options are varied, and excellent. There are two restaurants in the main building, ‘Os Gambozinos’ serves casual Italian (our pizza and pasta were great), or if you’re looking for a more upscale meal head next door to ‘O Terraço’ for fabulous contemporary Portuguese food.
There is a kids’ area which is supervised during all meal times – a big bonus for those of us who like to enjoy dinner without having the kids asking ‘are we done yet?!’. The restaurants have thought it through – there is a kids menu, but also a baby menu featuring home-made baby-friendly food. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve never seen that before – genius. For a relaxed lunch and a few drinks, the ‘M Bar’ is located above the Kids’ Clubhouse – perfect for grabbing lunch in between swims or after a busy morning in the club.
Martinhal’s lush buffet breakfast is served at ‘O Terraço’ – with daily visits from the resort’s friendly mascot ‘Rapozinho’ at 9am.
Finisterra Spa & Pool Areas
The hotel spa was another surprise. The spacious reception area often had the giggles and chattery of young children – not something I’m used to in a spa, but a wonderful thing to see in this family-friendly hotel. Lucky for me, I had a full body massage booked – I genuinly can’t think of anything any parent needs more after the Christmas rush! The massage was revitalising, and I came out feeling like a new woman. The spa uses Voya products, which are organic and have the most delicious and relaxing smells. I also absolutely love that they offered parent & child massages and manicures – what a brilliant bonding idea!
Things to note
The hotel has several shuttles that transport guests to Cascais and the beach; or you can hire bikes for a scenic ride to either (they have plenty of kids’ bikes available, but be sure to reserve during peak season).
If you’re planning on exploring Sintra and its coast, you can go on an organised tour, or alternatively hire a car. The freedom you get to choose what you’re doing with your day, explore small villages or go for impromptu walks in Sintra’s mountain or beach, are worth it in my opinion.
When to go
Cascais’ and Lisbon’s temperature is fairly mild throughout the year, with peak temperatures reaching the 30s July and August. If you’d like to avoid the school holiday rush, visiting the resort during off-season is a great alternative. The best months to visit Lisbon and Cascais are the shoulder season months, but don’t overlook a Winter break – the hotel has great deals during the Winter months, which include February half-term.
What to see nearby
Cascais has plenty to see, from its quaint pedestrianised downtown, to its beaches and parks. The city’s restaurants mustn’t be overlooked. Make the most of the hotel’s kids’ club service and enjoy a meal at Fortaleza do Guincho – a two Michelin star restaurant near the hotel.
The closest beach to the hotel is Guincho – my favourite beach in the Lisbon region. Picture long stretches of sand, rugged cliffs and the Atlantic waiting for you to dip your toes in. There is a surf school on site, perfect for budding little surfers!
Try to fit in a full day in Lisbon – a short (and pleasant) 30 minute train ride away from the centre of Cascais; and another full day exploring Sintra, the Pena Palace and Moors Castle, as well as the unique Quinta da Regaleira. Stop for lunch at Adraga beach for the best (and freshest) fish in the Lisbon region.
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nb: I was kindly invited to stay in Martinhal over the Christmas holidays. As always, all opinions and brilliant fun are my own.