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Escape to Portugal with Valerie Macaulay


We've known Valerie Macaulay since her days as a bookings editor at Vogue. That's right, she's a Vogue alumn. Fast forward a few years, and she's now the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of La Ligne – a direct-to-consumer brand rooted in the universal appeal of the stripe and focused on versatile staples that can easily transition from dawn to dusk. As she and her co-founders like to say, "if you can't eat, dance, sleep, and drink in it, we won't make it." 

Valerie, who grew up in New York City, is an avid traveler. And while she has been as far as Svalbard – the Norwegian archipelago in close proximity to the North Pole, and possibly the world's northernmost city – as you know by now, we are more interested in her recent warm weather adventures!

She recently took a dreamy trip to Portugal and the Algarve. In dire need of a sunny escape, we spoke to her about what made her trip so special. Did we tell you we have so much in common? Find out why she prefers to rent while traveling with young children, her tips for exploring the best European beaches, and all you really need for the perfect uniform while on vacation. 

When asked where she would go if she could transport herself anywhere during the current lockdown, this is what she told us: "I am currently in New Hampshire at my family's property where I got married four years ago, so in many ways, there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be." 


You recently went on a magical trip to Portugal. Where did you go and stay? 

We went on a car trip through Southern Portugal, to Lisbon, Sesimbra, Comporta and the Algarve. We rented two houses. One in Sesimbra, the other in Portimão, and we stayed in a wonderful hotel in Lisbon called Palacio Ramalhete. 


Your impression of Lisbon? 

We adored it although it was the place we explored the least because of timing. We still had two fabulous nights there. One at a traditional Portuguese Fado at Senhor Vinho and another evening at a modern restaurant, Prado. There was also this great bar called The Park, located on top of a parking lot with great music and atmosphere that we went to for cocktails.

What about the Algarve?

The best part of the Algarve is the beaches, hands down. We went to a different beach every day and still did not see everything. In high summer, it can get very crowded, so we set out pretty early to get better parking, but our favorite beaches were the ones you could only access by boat which you can pretty easily rent for the day with a guide. There are a lot of coves and hidden beaches along the coastline.  

Tell us about the Portuguese beaches. Can you recommend a few to anyone traveling to the region?

My husband is English and I am a pretty hearty swimmer, so we were in the sea every chance we got, but the water is deceptively cold. That is why the beaches appear more crowded than they actually are, no one is in the water! Regardless, our favorites were: Praia Benagil, Praia do Carvalho, Praia do Paraiso (tiny, and you might even be lucky to have it all to yourself, although lots of stairs to climb), Praia dos Três Irmãos (beautiful, wide beach), Praia da Marinha (gets very busy).  


You have two young children. Any tips on traveling in Portugal with little ones? 

Although it was more of a workout carrying one or both children if they refused to walk, targeting the more adventurous beaches with lots of stairs or far from parking also meant they were less crowded, which was a plus. We packed a large beach bag with plenty of water, snacks and two buckets and shovels for endless digging and castle building. On most of the beaches, they sell these wonderful large textile blankets and we bought one that easily folded up and saved a lot of space. Pro tip, plan your day around lunch. We made sure that if the beach did not have umbrella service, we had a restaurant reservation somewhere nearby or a packed lunch. We loved Restaurante Sal in Comporta, O Pescador in Benagil, and Mar d'Fora near Paraiso. 

Your vacation uniform while there?  

La Ligne easy dresses like D'Ete, Eloise and Vera dresses, but also a Daily Sleeper linen dress and Innika Choo bloomers and blouses. Swim was a mix of Matteau and Cover Swim. I bought a traditional round straw bag on one of the beaches there but I also brought my white Catzorange bag. I wore my traditional Ibizan woven sandals and a shell anklet that I picked up there. The jumpsuit is from Guatemala, by my friend Raquel from Scalo World. The hat is Magic Hat and shades are Izipizi – very durable. Jewelry is a hodge podge of Alighieri, Loquet, and bits and bobs I have picked up along on my travels.

Your absolute favorite memory from the trip?

All the nights cooking and having dinner outside. The house we rented in Sesimbra had a grill on the roof and we were one of the only houses on the top of a cliff, so the view was incredible. We had invited my husband's parents from London to stay with us for a few nights, so we cooked this huge meal and sat up there with the sun setting over the sea while catching up and drinking. I loved this extreme paradox of pairing an extraordinary setting with an act as normal as eating. It really made a moment to be present in.   


Oh, hi there sunshine!

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