This Martinhal Cascais review is based on our experience in the family hotel and resort in April 2017. We spent there one night with our two kids, aged 5 and 6 and tried the Martinhal facilities such as the pool, the spa and the restaurants.
During our last trip to Portugal, we spent two nights in Lisbon and one in the coastal town of Cascais. We had debated long and hard whether we should divide out time between these two locations or just stay in Lisbon: my husband thought moving would be too much hassle, I was tempted by the lure of a coastal Portuguese town in spring and eventually I found the perfect compromise: we would go to Cascais, but we would make our stay there relaxing, in a hotel with pool, spa, onsite restaurants and kids toys. This hotel was Martinhal Cascais.
Martinhal Cascais hotel review at a glance:
- Family rooms: yes
- Playground: yes
- Swimming pool: yes, both outdoor and indoor
- Spa: yes, kid-friendly
- Gym: yes
- Restaurants and cafe on site: yes
- Self-catering option: yes
- Perfect for: families with kids (babies to young teens)
- Location: close to the beach, close to Lisbon and Sintra
Cascais is a town on the Portuguese coast, about 1 hour West of Lisbon. Nestled between a stretch of white sandy beaches and the luscious mountains of Sintra, Cascais became famous in the 19th century as the seaside retreat of choice of the Portuguese and European elite.
The perfect refuge from the scorching heat of the city, Cascais developed as a glamorous and cosmopolitan destination: nowadays, its elegant streets are lined with restaurants, pubs and cafes and people from all over the world flock here to enjoy its beautiful beaches, award winning golf courses and dynamic atmosphere.
We spent a full day in Cascais and divided our time between its beautiful seafood restaurants and the beach.
We were also able to stretch to Boca do Inferno, a gorgeous stretch of coast near the city centre with dramatic cliffs and rock formations: this gave us a glimpse of the natural beauty of the area and made us realise that Cascais would be the perfect base to explore this stunning part of Portugal.
Travelling with two kids, however, I must admit the highlight of or stay wasn’t the city or any of the nearby attraction: the highlight was the gorgeous Martinhal Cascais beach and resort hotel!
Martinhal resort Cascais: arrival and welcome
We got to Martinhal Cascais at the end of a long day trip in the area of Sintra. The van pulled up in front of the hotel and the first thought I had when getting out of the car was how incredibly green the place looked. Despite being in a coastal town, close to some amazing sandy beaches, Martinhal is surrounded by a beautiful park, with lovely shaded corners, trees and lawns.
Despite being in a coastal town, close to some amazing sandy beaches, Martinhal is surrounded by a beautiful park, with lovely shaded corners, trees and lawns.
Just in front of the main building, you have a large space with the kids’ playground and kids club and through the large hotel windows, we could get a glimpse of the other side of the park, with pools glimmering in the evening sun and banana trees swaying in the breeze.
The kids understood straight away this place would be great fun so we quickly checked in and started exploring the property.
Martinhal Cascais reception and common areas
Martinhal Cascais is a modern, large building that seems out of the pages of an interior design magazine (I felt as if I had stepped into a tv programme about celebrity mansions!). The common area is organised into two floors (you enter reception on the first floor) and it has an open space design made of white walls, large windows and tall ceilings.
The common area is organised into two floors: you enter reception on the first floor and it has an open space design made of white walls, large windows and tall ceilings.
Everything looks new and functional but small design touches such as the rounded edges of the furniture make it look welcoming and gives away that the place is designed with families in mind.
Martinhal Cascais Rooms
Afer quick check-in procedures, we went into our room. This was located on the ground floor and was made of two interconnecting rooms overlooking the garden.
The two rooms each had a large, very comfortable bed and a massive bathroom with shower and bathtub.
The kids thought having their own bathroom was the best thing ever and were delighted to find something special for them: a pair of kids’ flip flops, yellow for Mr M (bigger) and green for Little Ms E. The flip flops are decorated with a fox, Martinhal’s mascotte, who appears in several spots all over the resort and, I am told, also visits the premises!
Martinhal Cascais offers several types of accommodation, to suit different family needs. Ours had two interconnecting rooms with a double bed each, but others come with bunk beds in the same room as the parents, which is handy if you have small kids who may get scared by a big room just for themselves.
All rooms have the same decor and colour scheme and we recognised some of the same nice touches we had loved in Martinhal Chiado such as the Nespresso machine with complimentary tea and coffee, the children paraphernalia in the bathroom (all Martinhal rooms have a bathroom step for kids to reach the sink, for instance) and the signature comfy Martinhal bunkbeds.
As well as rooms, Martinhal offers the option of staying in self-catering homes. These are located just beside the main hotel building and follow the same design and quality standard as the rooms, but they have a kitchen and develop over two floors.
I took a tour of them and they are really beautiful. If you have an extended stay here, they would be a perfect choice: the houses, like the rest of the hotel, are equipped with kid-friendly furniture and they come with stair gates, high chairs and kids steps.
Martinhal also offers a baby concierge service which means you can ask in advance to have your accommodation kitted out with baby equipment: from bottle warmers to strollers, all you need to do is ask and the house will be ready waiting for you.
The kid-friendly spa
When I picked Martinhal for our stay in Cascais there was one thing that attracted me most of all: the spa!
Unlike standard spas, strictly for adults only, the Martinhal spa is kid-friendly and actually invites you to bring the kids along.
The spa are is large, bright and well equipped.
In the main area, you have a kids pool with floats and water features and just beside there is a jacuzzi. The jacuzzi is for adults only (this is standard and due to the water temperature) but you are so close to your kids you can at the same time soak in it and keep an eye on your kids.
It is clever and embodies what is for me the main characteristic of the Martinhal philosophy: a family hotel is not only a hotel with a kids club but a hotel where parents and kids can spend time as they please, sometimes apart and sometimes together, without either part needed to compromise their holiday.
We spent in the spa an almighty amount of time: the kids adored it and really made it their own thanks to the kid’s sizes bathrobes and flip flops.
Snooping around at the spa menu, I got tempted by many of their treatments and noticed something cute. As well as adult treatments, you could choose special family ones such as mother-daughter, father-son packages, mother-son etc, to suit all parents/kids combinations.
As well as the spa, Martinhal Cascais has two pools: one outside, open in the summer only and one beside the playground, that can be used both in winter and summer.
Martinhal Cascais has two onsite restaurants: an Italian-inspired one and a Portuguese one.
We selected the Italian one: Mr M had a lovely large pizza and the pasta monster that is Little Ms E was very pleased with her bolognese!
Both restaurants are located on the ground floor (they are beside each other) and allow access to the back yard.
The Portuguese restaurant also has a room with toys, where kids are free to play while waiting for their meal (or, in our case, while the parents have a well-deserved drink!)
The playground and kids club
After a long night sleep, we had a gorgeous breakfast (think large buffet, fresh fruit etc) and then perched ourselves in the large playground.
Since we only had one day here we didn’t avail of the kids club but had a look around from the window: the club looked lovely, full of toys, colours and natural light, and the kids playing there seemed to be having a blast.
My two looked in from the window and begged me to go in but eventually got swayed by the toys outside and the trampoline in particular!
The Martinhal resort playground is large and well equipped.
It has two bouncy areas, swings, slides, a small caravan (this reminded us of the car in the cafe of Martinhal Chiado) and loads of space to run.
You enter and exit the playground swiping your hotel card so the place is secure: kids can run around free and cannot escape! The fist floor above the kids club has a cafe: we got a take out cup each and lounges on the fatboys bean bags scattered around the place as our kids played to their heart content.
After a few hours of play, our time in Martinhal had to come to an end.
Happy about our great stay and sad to go back to real life, we got on the shuttle the hotel had arranged for us and made our way to Cascais town centre and then Lisbon. That same night, we flew back to Dublin but promised ourselves to come back soon: next time we want a sun holiday in Europe, we now where to go.
Disclaimer: Martinhal Cascais has us as their guest for the purpose of this review. However, the opinion expressed in this post are our own and reflect our personal experience of the place only.
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