Arabian nights in the Algarve: Discover the new an...

Arabian nights in the Algarve: Discover the new and discreet Moorish oasis in the heart of Albufeira 

By: Alexandra Stilwell 

The new Vila Origens Boutique Hotel is an oasis for travellers seeking secluded beachside city breaks

Hidden behind thick wooden doors in one of Albufeira’s downtown cobbled streets lies a boutique hotel in a world of its own.


Vila Origens is a discreet Moorish oasis just a stone’s throw from the town’s bubbling nightlife and picturesque beaches. Offering peace and tranquillity in a luxurious setting, this little bolthole is the perfect setting for an adult-only holiday.

The recently refurbished buildings stand cheek to cheek with the city’s famed whitewashed clock tower overlooking Peneco beach. The Arabian-style hotel, featuring 19th-century neo-Islamic romantic architecture, was built within several historic buildings adjacent to a vast section of Albufeira’s 12th-century city wall.

This heritage is what inspired Dutchman Albert Kruize to build Vila Origens. Originally from Groningen in the Netherlands, he first came to the Algarve on a shrimp trawler some 30 years ago. Here he fell in love with the coast and with Natália, a local girl he now calls his wife.

Albert is a man of many trades. He is an artist by passion and a successful restauranteur by trade. His first business venture in Albufeira was the famous Cabana Fresca ice cream shop. He then went on to open two restaurants in town; Flavours and Urban Pizza.

Vila Origens is a new challenge, his first hotel. His creative nature led him to transform a dishevelled space into what he aims to turn into Albufeira’s most exclusive boutique hotel. He uncovered hidden features, such as the tank dug up in the interior patio, which he turned into the sumptuous swimming pool. Below this tank, he also found a reservoir, which he later plans to transform into an art gallery. Like a gemstone, Albert is “cutting” the little boutique hotel to create his vision of luxury.

He initiated the project in 2019 and, in June 2022, opened the large wooden gates to his first guests, taking them on a journey to the streets of Marrakech. Inside those gates, ochre-coloured walls, tiled floors and wrought iron balconies give life to a patio where the bedrooms are located. Beyond, lies a garden dotted with palm trees, oversized canopied sunbeds and a deep-blue heated infinity pool.

From the large poolside terrace, where break­fast is served, a contrasting view of colour­ful clotheslines, several layers of little white houses, Algarvian chimneys and the main church almost feels like a parallel universe.

The hotel features 21 rooms divided into five categories: Dreamy, Cosy, Happy, Starry and Stunning. Every one of them is designed to feel like a welcoming haven. Outside the main gate, down the alleyway, a side door opens onto a secluded mini riad with a canopied patio and a tiled water feature creating a fresh and soothing sound, around which three bedrooms huddle.

An iron spiral staircase leads up to the first-floor rooms, some of which have a large terrace offering sweeping views of Albufeira’s old town or the sea. A narrow stone staircase takes you further up, to the rooftop terrace, where yoga classes will soon take place.

Inside, a combination of natural materials and a warm colour palette give the rooms an intimate atmosphere. The layout and storage have been carefully thought out to ensure the functionality and comfort of a five-star hotel. Afghan throws give a burst of colour to the beds, wooden shutters bring a rustic feel and the bathrooms, with large walk-in showers and hydraulic tiles, add a touch of modernity to an otherwise ethnic theme.

Throughout the hotel, we find decorative details designed by Albert. The well-travelled artist picked up several skills along his journeys, including carpentry in the Orient. A skill he still practices at his carpenter’s shop in Algoz, some 20 minutes from Albufeira. In fact, he did most of the woodwork in the hotel, including the bedside tables in the bedrooms and the large table used for the breakfast buffet. He also painted all the colourful artwork hanging in the bedrooms.

At Vila Origens, the day starts with a luxurious breakfast; a superb selection of fruits, breads, cheeses, cold cuts, custard tarts and exquisite details such as flutes of Moët & Chandon. Albert opted not to have an in-house restaurant, but snacks such as cheese platters can be served poolside throughout the day.

The hotel offers activities for guests such as yoga, pilates, meditation, in-room massages and water sports supplied by a partner firm that picks up guests from the hotel door. Health and wellness are also essential parts of the hotel’s services. Vila Origens will also include a spa with an infrared sauna, Turkish bath, hydromassage tub, a space for hot yoga classes, and a few more surprises that will be revealed when the hotel reopens in February after the winter break.

Prices start at €120 per room during the low season and go up to €400 for top rooms in the high season. Vila Origens will be closed for a month from January 8th.

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