Hallie and Tim Robinson quit the UK nearly 10 years ago to set up home in the Eastern Algarve, a million miles - but less than three hours - from London and with over 300 days of sunshine a year. There they've realised their dream and converted an abandoned farmhouse into a stunning boutique hotel.
Off-grid hideaways don’t get much better than this, just 25 minutes drive from Faro. You can't help but succumb to the stillness of Fazenda Nova as you approach the 19th century farmhouse (enter our competition here!), nestled among olive groves and almond trees with a lovely saltwater pool. There are ten rooms, including seven garden suites, and plenty of comfy communal areas with plenty of space for relaxing. The infamous library, stocked with over 3,000 vinyl records to enjoy at leisure, earnt them 'Best Hotel Soundtrack' at last year's Mr & Mrs Smith's hotel awards.
We sat down with Hallie to find out what inspired them to give up everything and escape to more exotic climates, how they did it, and their tips for anyone holidaying in the stunning region they now call home…
When and why did you decide to leave your London life to set up a new home and business in Portugal?
We’ve always loved the Eastern Algarve and talked about moving some 15 years ago. We wanted a different life and for our children to grow up speaking different languages.
How long did it take to rebuild Fazenda Nova?
The Fazenda was an abandoned ruin when we discovered it. The project, including regenerating the land and the olive groves, took nearly seven years.
What was the inspiration behind the interiors?
There was no master plan. We had collected furniture and objects from all over the world and are always looking for new items, interesting pieces to mix things up. Because of the history between Portugal and the East we had our bedroom furniture made in Indonesia. The calm style and materials very much suit the calmness of Fazenda Nova.
What’s your favourite room in the hotel?
For Tim it’s the vinyl library, for me the daybeds on our new beach.
Favourite piece of furniture?
The bar cabinet. We found it unloved and rotting. Now it gets used a lot, probably every day!
Tell us more about your iconic back catalogue of The Face magazine?
My dad started The Face back in 1980 and had every issue that he produced bound into library style books as gifts for his three children. Guests love to flick back over the 80s and 90s; it brings back all sorts of memories. We have guests in the design, media and fashion industries that just come and sit to flick through the magazines.
And the vinyl library?
The vinyl library hosts our 3,000 + collection of albums, it’s a great place to kick back and pop on the bluetooth headphones – drift off into your own world, with a gin and tonic.
Best dish on the menu of 'A Cozinha', the Fazenda's restaurant?
Pork and clams, accompanied by a bottle of Superbock.
Your must-see or must-do in the Eastern Algarve?
Where to start? Tavira is by far the most beautiful town in the Algarve - I could spend days wandering through the streets. Cacela Velha and Fabrica beach are a must, along with the market at Olhao. The East Algarve is part of the Ria Formosa nature reserve, with the most beautiful beaches and islands on the coast. You could fly for 10 hours and not find beaches as natural or as stunning.
When’s the best time to visit Portugal?
Anytime. For the Algarve, we are open March through to November; as the winters are mild, with the last few years at 18 degrees or so. Lisbon and Porto you can visit all year round.