My dad used to tell me stories of his surf trips in the 1970s, and I have to say that the word "unhygienic" probably best describes his "golden era" exploits. Don't get me wrong, there's a time and a place for sandy bedsheets, packed-to-the-brim dorm rooms and cold public showers, but in 2017 we can be very thankful that there are many other options out there for people who want to explore new coastlines without losing sleep or contracting any mysterious fungal infections.
Located just one hour north of Lisbon, Portugal - Surfers Lodge Peniche is all about re-creating the comforts of home whilst tapping into the surfing community's famously good vibes. These days, so many surf-themed ventures can come across as somewhat cheesy in a Hollywood "hang loose" kind of way, but Surfers Lodge has a feeling of self-confident authenticity that instantly put all of my shaka-laden fears to bed. Founded by the former Swedish surfing champion - John Malmqvist, he quite simply wanted to build the kind of lodge that he had always hoped to visit. Trendy but relaxed, homely but fun, this is the long overdue surfer's equivalent of the modern day ski lodge.
If you haven't heard of Peniche, it is the beating heart of Portugal's booming surf scene. This quaint little fishing village offers a unique blend of traditional and progressive surf culture, and is home to one of the most ruggedly stunning coastlines I've ever seen. Its most famous wave is 'Supertubos' where the WSL Championship Tour event takes place every October, but if you're not looking for a mouthful of sand there are plenty of options on offer for all levels of experience.
Located just a short walk from Baleal Beach, the Surfers Lodge is smack bang in the middle of dozens of incredible waves - from dreamy beachies to heavy reef breaks, and the easy, breezy waves of Prainha. Fresh out of 2 weeks spent hunting down waves in Peniche, I asked my partner in crime Matt Wilkinson to sum it up from a surfer's perspective:
"Supertubos offers world-class heavy beach breaks, but there's so much coastline to sneak off and find your own peak along Praia D'el Rey. You definitely won't struggle to find good waves."
If you haven't surfed before or you're looking to up your game, the Lodge also has its own Surf School attached which will work with you to create a customised learning program based on your experience and the conditions.
And if you're not looking to surf at all? You'll find me in the rooftop hot tub sipping wine.
The thing that will strike you most about the Lodge is the unwavering feeling of energy that pulses through the hallways. When you walk in the door after an exhausting day, this is what will bring you back to life and convince you that yes, you absolutely should have another cocktail with your newfound Argentinian pals (who swear to the Gods that they scored the best barrels of their life today despite the fact that it was 2ft and onshore). Vibrant live music at the rooftop bar is a regular occurrence, and when the clock strikes midnight and you feel like kicking on - the bars and clubs of Baleal are just a short stumble away.
The Lodge's food could be best described as 'post-surf comfort food with a Scandinavian twist'. Hearty pies, mammoth-sized steaks, seasonal salads and quite seriously the best chocolate brownies I've ever had in my life - the menu and restaurant are designed with an element of nostalgia for home-cooking and comforts.
The upstairs bedrooms are just as inviting, and are all designed to feel more like bedrooms than hotel rooms. Each of the 17 rooms has a wildly different personality - from large family suites dedicated to the immortal words & music of the Beatles, to romantic honeymoon suites styled with Balinese treasures. At the end of the day, it's pretty hard not to fall in love with just how much thought has gone into every single detail of this place.
NB: Matt and I stayed in the 'Hippie' suite which inspired me to ditch the bra and peace out to some Bob Dylan on more than one occasion. It also stirred up distant memories of my father's surfing tales and made me eternally grateful for hot showers, fresh white linen and a well-stocked mini bar. Thanks for having us Surfers Lodge!
Accommodation // Surfers Lodge Peniche @surferslodgepeniche
Words // Anna Jordan @annajordan89