As a family travel blogger, we have visited many countries and stayed in many kid-friendly hotels, but none impressed me more than the Martinhal hotels in Portugal. Martinhal operates four hotels in Portugal; two in the Algarve, one in Lisbon, and one in Cascais. From what I experienced, these are the best family resorts in Portugal. If you are looking for where to stay in Portugal with kids, read on.
I visited the Martinhal Chiado in Lisbon and the Martinhal Cascais as part of a press trip this spring. Since my return, I have encouraged friends, especially those with young children, to consider a family holiday in Portugal. The Martinhal resorts are so family friendly, truly designed from the ground up with families and kids in mind.
The husband-wife team behind the Martinhal brand have four kids themselves and they have created an environment that caters to families without Disneyfying the experience. The atmosphere is classy and stylish, and the ambiance is comfortable and welcoming. There may be playgrounds and structures throughout the grounds, and fun, floppy pillows to lounge on in the lobby; yet it still feels like the kind of place where you want to change for dinner (not that you have to.) Kids are clearly ever-present and welcome, yet somehow the properties are surprisingly quiet. But no so quiet that parents should feel that children are to be seen and not heard.
When I say they go above and beyond to build family-friendliness into every aspect of the experience, I mean it. The menus in restaurants offer baby food options. Yes, baby food. Not a kid’s menu, but homemade baby food. (And they also have kid’s size portions for menu items too!) Instead of looking around for a high chair in the dining room, there is an abundance of them.
There are play areas in the restaurants, smoothies on the bar menus, spa treatments for kids, flip down bunk beds, potty seats and step stools in the bathroom, and so much more. The Martinhal commitment to families goes way beyond some check-in gifts (yes, they have those too) and a kid’s club. I may have been hosted at the hotels on a press trip, but I definitely drank the Kool-Aid and I’ve seen with my own eyes how these are the best family hotels in Portugal.
Where to Stay in Portugal with Kids
The seaside town of Cascais is just 30-45 minutes outside of Lisbon, making it a perfect pairing with a city break in Portugal’s capital. Whether you use Cascais as a spot to overcome jet lag, or you end your trip with a bit of relaxation, plan on spending at least two-to-three days in Cascais. Martinhal Cascais opened in the Spring of 2016 with all the attention to detail delivered at its original properties.
The property offers 68 hotel rooms and four hotel suites. All will sleep a family of four with a either a pull out couch, flip down bunk beds, or rollaway beds and baby cots. The suites offer a sliding door to divide the living area from the bedroom to offer families great privacy. They are also large enough to fit a baby cot to accommodate a family of five (if one is a baby.)
Larger families can also consider one of the 12 luxury villas on property. Six of the villas will fit a group of six, and the remaining six villas can only accommodate a family of four (plus a baby cot.) The villas are equipped with full kitchens, patios, a dining area, and large, sun-filled living space. The bedrooms are upstairs and the stairs are protected by child gates. These autonomous units are located near privately-owned homes, but still have full access to the property amenities.
Martinhal Cascais offers both full-board and half-board (breakfast plus one other meal) packages, as well as a la carte options. All on-site properties offer kid-size portions, baby food, and a delicious assortment of healthy food options. In addition, families can get a breakfast basket in-room delivery for light bites in a comfortable environment.
Terraco is the main dining restaurant, offering a full breakfast buffet and Portuguese specialties for dinner. In addition to the accessibility of high chairs and kid-friendly food options, the restaurant offers a child play area. During meals, this area is staffed by someone from the kid’s club, who will offer supervised play and activities while parents enjoy the rest of their meal. In addition, the courtyard off the restaurant patio offers colorful play structures and grassy areas for letting some energy loose.
During our stay, we enjoyed the buffet breakfast, as well as a hosted buffet luncheon at Terraco. The breakfast offers a robust number of options from freshly made eggs to pancakes, fresh breads and pastries, freshly-squeezed juices, fruits, yogurt, cereals, cheeses and meats, and even sparkling wine. The lunch options were equally delicious with some creative and healthy options including grains, salads, and vegetables.
This Italian trattoria offers family favorites such as pizza and pastas for both lunch and dinner. I didn’t notice that this restaurant was open during our stay in late April so you may want to check on their seasonal hours.
M-Bar is located above the Kid’s Club and offers coffee, ice cream, pastries, and light bites throughout the day. I was impressed by its selection of healthy options, kid-sized portions, smoothies, and suggestions for food and wine pairings.
The Kid’s Club at Martinhal Cascais offers fun options for kids from six-month old babies through early teens. Except for babies, the kid’s club is also complimentary. Outside kid’s love the multiple playground, basketball court, soccer/football field, tennis courts, in-ground trampoline, and the giant bouncing pillow.
These areas are open to all guests with a room key, although some do have weight and height limitations. You will also find the Martinhal’s signature VW van, offering a fun spot for kids to climb through and play in…plus a cute photo opportunity.
Inside, the kid’s club is broken into multiple areas. There is the baby room and the main playroom, as well as an activity room for structured programs. These structured activities include cooking classes and art workshops.
The Kid’s Club offers two drop-off sessions per day, as well as two drop-in playtimes for families. The playtimes offer a great way to acclimate younger or more hesitant children with the staff to prepare them for drop off.
Older kids can also participate in activities organized through the teens club and through What’s App.
For families traveling with small children, Martinhal really tries to make travel as stress-free as possible. Through the baby concierge, families can pre-book baby cots and baths, potties, baby-proofing and safety gates, and bottle warmers and sterilizers. Diapers and other baby items are also available for purchase.
There are three pool options throughout the property, although not all are available year round. The main outdoor pool, which isn’t heated, is open from late spring through late summer.
If you are looking for a heated pool, head to the “bubble,” accessible through the kid’s club. This indoor, heated pool is perfect for year-round play and swimming instruction.
You can also find an indoor/outdoor pool in the Finisterra Spa. The indoor pool is heated, but the outdoor portion is not. You can’t swim from one to the other but you can easily get out of one and walk outside to hop into the other. Even though this pool is part of the Spa, families with kids are still welcome. In fact, they even supply swim diapers if needed!
You would think that the spa would be the one adults-only retreat within the resort, right? Guess again. Even the Spa welcomes families. They offer mother-daughter and father-son treatments, as well as teen and tween options. In addition to the nine treatment rooms and pool, there is also a whirlpool, sauna, and steam room. Note that the hot tub is not kept too hot, therefore it is available for small children as well that aren’t typically allowed in a hot tub. That said, if you like a really hot soak, you may find it a bit chilly.
There is also a small fitness room and yoga and pilates classes (not included) can be booked in advance.
Martinhal Cascais is tucked into a residential area of the seaside town of Cascais. It is nestled between two championship golf courses. It is also just five minutes away from beaches, which are famous for windsurfing and surfing.
If you are looking for a calmer beach for little kids to splash about, there are also small beaches near the marina in the town of Cascais.
Martinhal offers bicycle rentals, including child bikes, trailers, and e-bikes, so that families can easily bike into town using the seaside bike path. Just note that you will need to bike off-the-path in some spots.
The bike path also is a great spot for a family walk along the coast where kids can enjoy scrambling on the rocks near the sea.
If you prefer to stay outside of the city, you can also use Cascais as a homebase to explore the area. You can easily take a day trip to Sintra to see Pena Palace, and take day trips into Lisbon.
Just like Martinhal Cascais, the Martinhal Lisbon Chiado in downtown Lisbon is just as family friendly, but with a totally different vibe. Instead of a spread out resort made for relaxation, the Martinhal Chiado is the world’s first city-centre luxury family hotel, which captures the history and charm of Lisbon.
Located in the Chiado neighborhood of downtown Lisbon, the Martinhal hotel is within easy walking distance to shops, restaurants, bars, public transportation, and many famous sights. While located on the street, it is a relatively quiet neighborhood and suites on the higher floors may even offer views down to the river.
The Martinhal Lisbon Chiado is an all-suite hotel, offering 37 family-friendly suites of various configurations. There are studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom options available and they will work with you to help place your family into the best fit.
Each has the flip down bunk beds, just like at Martinhal Cascais, and can sleep from two to six people.
There is also a full kitchen equipped with a small fridge, stove, microwave, dishwasher, and even a clothes washer/dryer! The kitchen is fully equipped if you wanted to pop down to the market and cook instead of going out (or bring something in to eat in comfort!) I was pleasantly surprised to find a highchair and child utensils, as well as basics like salt, pepper, and olive oil.
You again see where all the family-friendly touches come into play. Instead of a coffee table, there is a round, cork ottoman. Instead of sharp corners on the dining table, the table and chairs have rounded edges.
The windows offer beautiful views, but you need to request a key and sign a waiver before you can open them, to ensure safety first.
Even the bathroom offers up tubs, step stools, and potty seats. In addition to the strollers to borrow downstairs, there is room to park the stroller in the apartment. And, if you forget something or don’t want to pack it, the baby concierge is also there to help.
Dining at M-Bar
The ground floor cafe offers guests a quick breakfast in the morning or light bites throughout the day. In the evening, room service is available. Plus, they will also deliver breakfast baskets to your room so the family can relax around their private dining table instead of in a busy restaurant.
This is also a perfect spot for an afternoon ice cream, tea, or wine and cheese plate. As I found at the Cascais property, the food is fresh, healthy and delicious.
The Martinhal Lisbon Chiado also offers a kid’s club for children from six months to early teens. There is also a playroom where parents can come and enjoy some playtime together, offering siblings a chance to nap or mom/day the ability to sleep in while the rest of the family plays.
In addition to the daytime program, Martinhal Chiado offers a pyjama club in the evenings, so mom and day can go out and enjoy dinner and the nightlife. This program is also complimentary (except for meals.) Private babysitting can also be arranged.
Are you ready to plan a trip to Portugal? If you are traveling to Portugal with kids, I recommend that you check out the Martinhal properties for a family-centric experience.
Both properties offer so much for families and are a perfect combination if you enjoy a mix of sightseeing and relaxation. I feel in love with Portugal and the Martinhal brand so I look forward to going back to see more of this beautiful country and checking out the Algarve properties on my next visit.
- Get ideas for 3 days in Lisbon
- Plan a day trip to Sintra
- Check rates and reviews at Martinhal properties
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