Incredible ocean views, creative Michelin starred dining and impeccable service is what you can expect, when you stay at Vila Joya... the Algarve's poshest hotel
Every traveler has a series of moments that are unforgettable. Maybe it’s an invigorating experience, visiting a far off destination, or meeting someone along the way that just has the most amazing smile. Whatever it is, the memory sticks and becomes part of a larger picture, a bigger story. For us, traveling full time these past few years have been made up with incredible experiences, so many that our life has dramatically changed and now we crave these moments. We’re addicted. We travel everywhere seeking out that moment in time, those needles in the haystack, when we are both in complete awe of our surroundings.
Standing on the coast of Algarve, my toes dipped in the cold Atlantic Ocean, staring at the sun setting over the cliffs, I was in this moment. Listening to the quiet giggles of tourists on the beach, smelling charcoal from families starting their BBQs and getting those last moments of sun on my skin, I was truly happy. Surrounded by the ocean, well fed and laughing with my husband, this was a perfect glimpse into the beauty of Portugal and of our entire stay at Vila Joya.
I didn’t know it then, but the location, the hotel, and the hotel's restaurant would become a memory I would cherish. At Vila Joya, I was in the midst of creativity, nature, and art. From the magical dishes coming out of their 2 Michelin Star restaurant, to the relaxing rhythms of sound therapy and to reigniting my love for Yoga, the experience we had here, was unforgettable.
After arriving in the quiet beachside town of Albufeira, Portugal our driver whisked us away to Vila Joya. We knew we were someplace special when we pulled up to a private driveway lined with beautiful fruit trees and bright tropical flowers blooming everywhere. As we entered the hotel, greeted by the quiet chirps from a pair of lovebirds at the entrance, we found ourselves in large open living room, with perfect design details throughout.
The room had pops of color from large coffee table books and every nook was filled with a precious treasure. It was like being in the living room of that friend -- the one with impeccable taste -- who always seems to find the best art and treasures from around the world. Jealous? Yes!
In a seamless transition from living room to “dining area” we were greeted with stunning views of the grounds and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Stepping out onto the terrace, which also serves as the main dining area, we received a friendly welcome from the team, over a glass of champagne. This was a sneak peak of what our entire stay at Vila Joya would consist of - Refreshing cocktails in the warm sun, stunning views all around and some of the most creative & delicious food, we’ve every had - talk about pure relaxation.
The literal translation of Vila Joya is “House of Joy” or “Jewelry Box,” and both are equally fitting. You see, Vila Joya used to be a family home and over time transitioned into an elegant 20 room getaway. The hotel is now run by Joy Jung, whose family built the home and whose precious memories run through the veins of the property. Everything is meant to reflect their way of life. From welcoming guests as if they were life long friends, to housing one of the best restaurants in the world.
After meeting Joy, everything clicked. She had this artsy, creative vibe about her and in the 10 minutes I chatted with her, I began to understand her passion. With strong family roots, an appreciation for craftsmanship and art in all forms, it was easy to see where the hotel got it’s sense of style.
At Vila Joya, you feel like your staying in someones' private home. There are plenty of personal details throughout and everything is set up to be open and inviting. Although the hotel is relatively small, the grounds are pretty expansive and there are plenty of areas to find privacy. Two pools can be found on site, one that is secluded in the spa area and another that felt a bit more family friendly. Although I think this would be the perfect place for a honeymoon or romantic getaway, there is plenty of space for kids to roam around as well.
Each room at Vila Joya is designed a bit differently, yet they all carry the same white and minimalist aesthetic. Our suite was facing the ocean and the stunning views were definitely the focal point. When we entered the room, we passed a large walk in closet, and a fantastic bathroom complete with his and hers shower heads and Molton Brown amenities which all smelled heavenly. At the end of the room was a small sitting area and balcony overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
Aside from the view, the best part of our suite was the bed. Using beds specifically designed for Vila Joya, each nights sleep was like being cradled in a soft cloud. The all white plush bedding definitely made us stay in bed a little longer than we should have and we truthfully couldn’t wait to crawl in bed. When we decide to settle down again, this bed will somehow find it’s way to our new bedroom. Everyone should sleep like this every night!
A Gourmet Experience at Vila Joya
It’s not every day that you get an opportunity to dine at one of the best restaurants in the world -- especially a restaurant that boasts two Michelin stars. So when we decided to visit Portugal, the restaurant at Vila Joya was quickly added to our foodie bucket list. With a menu that changes daily and an all star team that constantly comes up with new and very creative ideas, we knew a meal here would be unique and unforgettable. So when we were told our reservations were confirmed, I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to see a true culinary artist, perform.
Nestled on a terrace overlooking the beach is Vila Joya's gourmet restaurant. Led by Chef Dieter Koschina and his charming right-hand man, Matteo Ferrantino,Vila Joya has a reputation for being the best -- and with extremely limited seating, and a long wait list for reservations, getting in can be tough. Luckily if you’re a guest at Vila Joya, they will make you a priority and do everything they can to to get you in. Read our full review here.
Aside from being home to one of the best restaurants I have ever been to, Vila Joya does have other options. There is a poolside restaurant that is more casual, so it's perfect if you're looking for something straight from the beach or pool. Another option is to just walk the coast and find a little beach-side restaurant.
Even breakfast at Vila Joya is an experience... Each morning you'll sit on the same terrace as dinner, so as you're eating your fresh fruit and perfectly made eggs, you can still enjoy the stunning views of the ocean below. The set up is buffet style and you can expect to have gourmet cheeses, cuts of meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and perhaps the best selection of juices. If you're in the mood for something a bit more hearty, there is a small menu of freshly made options to choose from.
What to do
When you take a trip to Algarve, you don’t make plans (except for maybe a few dinner reservations), and that's exactly the point of visiting a beautiful area like this; to experience and appreciate it. At Vila Joya, there are beach paths are made for long walks to nowhere, and strategically placed lounge chairs are for impromptu cat naps in the sun. Vila Joya is the perfect escape to rejuvenate yourself, have a romantic vacation, or simply do nothing at all.
During our stay, I participated in a bit of sound therapy - completely different than any spa treatment I have ever done. With a small group of other guests, we laid on mats in a circle outside in the fresh air and listed to a variation of sounds and rhythms. With my eyes shut, I dove into complete relaxation mode as each sound was meant to talk to my body. Now I’m not sure if my body really felt anything but it was completely relaxing and for that hour I was totally calm and at ease. Definitely a fun experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Another great option, is to partake in one of their morning yoga classes. Lead by their in-house fitness expert, Rita, the entire class was a soothing hour of bends, poses and breathing exercises. My love for yoga was reignited and my body was sore and thankful for days after.
For more information about Vila Joya make sure to visit their website: