Ericeira, Portugal is a beach getaway town located about 30 miles outside of Lisbon. Ericeira hangs on the cliffs of the Atlantic and is relatively unknown to foreigners, with the exception of serious surfers. Dan and I have visited Ericeira a few times, as we got married not too far from Ericeira last year and stayed in Ericeira during our wedding!
Ericeira has a lot of housing options, from boutique hotels, to Airbnb, to weekly vila rentals. However, in my opinion, Hotel Vila Gale is the best overall accommodation in Ericeira, especially for American travelers or families. Hotel Vila Gale is a Portuguese and Brazilian chain, operating a number of hotels throughout Portugal and Brazil. We stumbled upon Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira when looking for nice hotels to recommend to our wedding guests, as its featured in many, many Ericeira town advertisements!
Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira is an old-school hotel; it reminds me a lot of a Dirty Dancing-esque lodge that you would find in the Catskill Mountains of New York, meaning that the hotel has most everything one needs but is also a bit dated…
Similar to an old-school vacation lodge, Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira has a number of communal rooms for reading, relaxing, or hanging out, and they have a game room downstairs, complete with a pool and card tables. In addition, and on a more modern note, the hotel also offers an really big pool area and a spa (both explained below).
The hotel is located in Ericeira proper (despite not always appearing this way on maps) – about a 5 minute walk from the centre of Ericeira and from the beach. Ericeira is totally safe and Hotel Vila Gale’s location is excellent for exploring the town.
Hotel Vila Gale offers a variety of categories of rooms, but none of them are too expensive, especailly in the off season. Most rooms consist of a Queen sized bed (often two small beds pushed together), a dresser with a somewhat dated TV, a small table or chair, and a bathroom with a shower/tub combo. There are 3 or 4 floors to the hotel, and elevators and stairs easily link all of the floors.
Many of the “ocean view” rooms have balconies, with the “ocean view” suites having large porches overlooking the ocean and pool area. I have “ocean view” in quotes, because many of those rooms only have a partial ocean view…
In general, the rooms are fine but are rather tired (again, especially for American guests). That being said, there is decent air conditioning, wifi (although it slowed down a lot with all of our American guests using it!), and cable TV with at least a couple English channels.
One of the primary reasons that I choose to stay at Hotel Vila Gale are the amenities. The best, in my opinion, being the pool area! Despite the remainder of the hotel being rather dated, the pool area is on point!
Hotel Vila Gale’s pool area borders the Atlantic Ocean and boasts three pools, a restaurant, a bar, and lots of lounging area! One of the pools is a salt water pool, one a normal pool, and one a “kids pool,” but adults can definitely (and were) use it!
The restaurant and bar are located in between the salt water and regular pool and serves bar fare with a Portuguese twist! The french fries are excellent! And the bar serves drinks both at the bar and in plastic cups to drink near the pool!
Tucked just behind the children’s pool is Hotel Vila Gale’s spa. While I did not use the spa services (i.e. massage, etc.), the spa offers the use of a hot tub, a sauna, and a steam room to all guests. We used the spa in both November and August, and it was lovely both times! Any guest can use the spa at any time, but you will likely need a reservation for a service.
In addition to the pool, the spa, and the game room, Hotel Vila Gale also has a children’s play area.
Every reservation at Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira includes complimentary breakfast, and the breakfast is huge! I’m talking a bread bar, fruit bar, cheese and meats, juices, coffees, cereals, made-to-order omelettes and eggs, a hot bar, a salad bar…the list goes on! There is even champagne! It kind of has a British breakfast theme. Since its included, taking advantage of this buffet is definitely budget friendly and can really get you through to an early dinner. While not gourmet, the quality is pretty good for a hotel buffet! Also, the dining room has really pretty windows and outdoor seating overlooking the ocean!
In addition to breakfast, the main dining room serves a prix fix dinner every evening. Dan and I did it once, and it was pretty decent for a buffet. A large selection and decent quality. Drinks are pay per order.
The pool bar and restaurant also serves food, as does the small bar in the game room next to the dining room. Most of this menu is for off hours and limited to sandwiches and pre-packaged bar snacks.
Since Hotel Vila Gale is a chain, there are two sets of staff: one set at each hotel and one set in a central office in Lisbon managing all group bookings… Before I get to the fabulous staff at Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira, let me say that the staff at the central office, particularly Rute, was rude, lacking in basic English language skills (even though they claim up and down that they are fluent in English), are slow to respond, and try to nickel and dime you. If you are planning a group trip to Hotel Vila Gale, please try to avoid the group office…
On the other hand, the actual employees at Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira are FANTASTIC!!! We met the General Manager, Albano Silva, when we were planning our wedding and he was incredibly helpful in managing our guests stay and one of the events that we held at Hotel Vila Gale. For example, he and his staff permitted a number of our guests to change rooms and upgrade, he personally checked on us a number of times, and he arranged the delivery of our welcome bags with ease and free of charge (contrary to the “central office”).
In addition to the General Manager, the rest of the staff were super nice, generally spoke great English (as advertised), and made sure everyone was well taken care of!
Since we recommended Hotel Vila Gale to our wedding guests, we dealt with the Central Office quite a bit. If you are doing something similar, know that the rates on travel sites such as Expedia were the exact same as what we were quoted as a “group rate,” except on those sites you did not have to pre-pay and could cancel and get a refund. The only benefit to booking through the group site is that the hotel guarantees to hold a certain number of rooms.
We also held an event at the Hotel, our Welcome Cocktail Hour, which we mostly worked with the local staff at Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira (thanks, Albano!) to organize. In booking our Welcome Cocktail Hour, the hotel had a set price list for certain beverages and snacks and once we choose what we wanted, the hotel did the rest! The only thing we did was bring customized napkins, which the staff put out and took a few as souvenirs (we had extras and they asked!), and some balloons that said Mr. and Mrs. The staff served drinks very freely at our Welcome Cocktail Hour and even stayed open after they were supposed to have closed down!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira: Largo dos Navegantes, 2659-501 Ericeira, Portugal. T: +351 261 869 900. Reservations can be made directly with the hotel via its website or though big booking sites like Booking.com or expedia.com. I do not see any benefit from booking directly with the hotel.
ON A BUDGET
Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira is pretty budget friendly hotel, although defiitely not the most budget friendly in Ericeira. The large breakfast and included amenities certainy help in justifying the cost of a hotel room compared to an Airbnb or hostel.