Unplug On A Digital Detox In Portugal To Get Away From All That Life Stuff
Okay we might have Instagrammed a little bit, shhhh...
Remember last year, when everything in the news was miserable and stressful and apocalyptic, and everyone came away hoping, deep down in their hearts, that 2018 would be better? That the push alerts on your phone, or trending topics on Twitter, wouldn’t want to make you curl up into a desperate little ball and cry?
Well we’re a few months in - about 25%, FYI - and we’re calling it. 2018 is not going well, is it.
So you’re thinking of becoming more and more detached from humanity and turning into an empty husk of a person but WAIT. Stop this madness. What you need is some time away from the digital news cycle, from staring at your phone in abject horror, and maybe also a cocktail with a generous slosh of booze diligently stirred in.
Because at MTV we pride ourselves on our guinea-pig-like ability to experience the glorious aspects of the world around us and report on it for you, we gleefully accepted an invite to head to The Magnolia Hotel in Portugal, to unplug, unwind and swap the stress-inducing real world for the bliss-inducing possibilities of a life off the grid.
So expect: biking! Amazing food! A pool bluer than the tears you cry on your miserable commute to work! And cocktails!
Here’s everything you need to do to get the most out of your time offline.
1. Stay in sumptuous surroundings
Alright so here’s the thing. Boutique hotels are massive right now, combining the cushiness of a large hotel with the intimacy of a smaller setting. The Magnolia was bursting with so many bright pastel shades you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a Wes Anderson film.
Surrounded by the Algarve coastlines, the lush settings are perfect whether you’re a mega active holiday-goer or more of a low-key lazyboy. Want to lounge by the pool and party by night? The hotel hosts a regular film club where flicks are projected outside - and the guy behind the food here used to be the head chef at Soho House (the chocolate granola served at breakfast is immensely, incredibly, deliciously addictive, and the house burger is a revelation. Although you can’t eat that at breakfast. Unless you ask really nicely)
Each room as a private veranda, and there are larger suites and more cosy ‘cottages’ on site, too. Basically: the whole thing looks dreamy af and you’d be forgiven for taking an Instagram story or 50.
2. Do some exercise
The hotel is a perfect base if you want to spend your days doing some proper exercise and exploration. With close proximity to the Campus, Quinta do Lago’s premier sports center, you can opt to do a few rounds of golf, go cycling or even try padel, a local sport that’s’ basically the lovechild between squash and tennis (more on that later).
Because Quinta do Lago is nestled among the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, we spent one afternoon on a bike ride exploring the Southern coast, taking in lush woodlands, freshwater lakes and the huge salt marshes. There’s even a chance to do some bird watching, all while getting in some sweet, sweet leg workouts.
If, like us, you find the notion of even mild exercise absolutely terrifying, and even walking up a broken down escalator makes your legs turn to jelly, fear not! The Magnolia Hotel has an absolutely cracking spa and wellness center that will rub life back into your tingly little limbs.
3. Sample some amazing cuisine
Yeah so, the food in Portugal is amazing. You know this. You know about portuguese tarts and salty, morish sardines and grilled seafood that will produce such pleasurable aromas you might need another lie down.
But our highlight was Bovino Steakhouse, where we got to sample different cuts served on a massive sizzling grill delivered to our table; t-bone, fillet, chateaubriand and rib-eye. The restaurant is a former farmhouse, renovated with a mix of old and new (traditional Portugese cobbles and modern tiling). Plus it has one of the fanciest bathrooms we’ve ever been in, though naturally we didn’t take any pictures in there because it might look a bit suss. You’ll have to take our word on it.
Elsewhere, Caso do Lago is perfect for a relaxed seafood lunch and a nice chilled glass of white. If you’re wanting a healthy option, nearby Pure Cafe does completely customisable salads and massive jars full of fresh juices.
4. Do more exercise
Look it’s completely fair to say if we were playing word association, and I said the word ‘padel’, you probably wouldn’t know what I was on about. Which is fine! We’re all here to learn. Padel is a sport that’s huge in Portugal - and while you’re there it’s worth booking in for a lesson.
Basically, it’s a bit like tennis, but also a bit like squash. It’s typically played in doubles, on a court about ⅓ the size of a tennis court, with walls that the ball can bounce off, like in squash. The balls and rackets are lighter and a bit smaller, and if it’s easy enough for us to be labelled borderline proficient by our instructor after just an hour, then anyone can become a pro.
By Chris Mandle