Should You Invest In A Hotel For Portugal’s Golden Visa?

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With options that start from €280,000, investing in a hotel redevelopment scheme could offer an easy (and cheap) way of qualifying for the Portuguese golden visa. It’s ideal for those that want a path to Portuguese citizenship, but don’t necessarily want to move to Portugal right now.

Portugal’s golden visa is famous for offering the right to residency in Portugal in return for making an investment in Portugal. This visa only requires you to spend an average of seven days per year in Portugal over the five years, after which point you’ll be eligible to apply for both permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship. There are several ways to invest as part of the golden visa, with most people choosing to purchase a house or apartment in Portugal. There is another option, aimed at those that want an investment that’s very hands-off, and that’s investing in commercial property such a hotel or resort. 

This option typically means purchasing a room, apartment, or share in a hotel or resort that’s being built or renovated. Renovation projects are especially common as, due to the golden visa rules, this allows the developers to sell the rooms for cheaper: rather than having to invest the full €500,000, if the property is in need renovation and within a “low-density” region, the golden visa investment requirements could be as little as €280,000.

There are a lot of these hotel redevelopment projects. Some common features include:

  • Entry price point of between €280,000 and €350,000
  • Rental income sometimes paid upfront, thereby reducing the cost of the golden visa investment (an apartment might cost €280,000, but you’re given 15% back within two weeks of purchase, for example)
  • A buyback (often guaranteed) at the end of the five or six-year period
  • Ability to use the facilities for one or two weeks of the year

Why invest in an apartment within a hotel when you could buy a golden visa property for €280k yourself? There are a number of reasons, depending on the investor, but this option appeals to people that only want to spend a few days or weeks per year in Portugal, and want an investment that’s as easy to manage as possible. Unlike a house or apartment, with a managed apartment or room within a hotel, you don’t have to worry about utilities, leaky pipes, break-ins, and all of the other challenges that go with owning a property – especially one in another country. It can also work out more affordable. As well as the benefit of the up-front rental income payment, this option doesn’t come with the additional costs that come with buying and owning a property, which can quickly add up.

Of course, if you’re planning to move to Portugal rather than just spend the required number of days here, you may want to purchase a property you can live in instead. However, for many people, the appeal of the golden visa over other residency visas is not having to move to Portugal yet still having residency. 

The hotel option isn’t the only hands-off approach to investing in the golden visa. Another increasingly popular option is to invest in a fund. As with hotels and resorts, there are a number of investment companies that offer funds that golden visa applicants can invest in, typically in areas like startups, small business, and real estate. And, like hotels and resorts, many have a buyback option after around six or seven years. 

Both options have similarities, but many people will feel more comfortable investing in something physical and easier to understand like a hotel, rather than a fund. Another benefit of a hotel or resort over a fund is being able to visit the hotel and enjoy it. Most hotel investment options allow you to spend a few weeks of the year at the property, should you wish to. The golden visa requires you to spend an average of seven days per year in Portugal and, although you don’t have to spend it at the hotel, it’s nice to have somewhere to come to every year or two. 

As of January 2022, residential properties purchased in many parts of Portugal, including Lisbon, Porto, or large parts of coastal Portugal like the Algarve no longer qualify for the golden visa. However, an apartment in a hotel is considered commercial property rather than residential, and this route can allow you to have access to a property in a part of Portugal that would otherwise no longer qualify. 

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  1. I guess the challenge with the commercial property route and the funds route is that your money is wrapped up with a company for 5 years. I don't recognise any of those fund names. Vanguard isn't on there for example. Neither do I recognise any of the developer names although they may be big names in Portugal, I don't know. You basically have to pick a big developer and trust that they're managing their finances correctly as you're relying them for the buyback. This buyback isn't government guaranteed. It's guaranteed by that particular developer.

  2. We are interested in investing in a hotel option but don't require the use of the property for the 2 weeks they are offering as we prefer to come to Portugal and travel around. Can we "sell" those dates to the hotel?

    • As all of these schemes have slightly different terms and conditions, this is something you could discuss with the investment company or developer to see if they can offer you a slightly different deal based on your needs.

  3. So as far as I can see you basically give your money (around €300k) to a company and five or six years they give it back to you when you are able to apply for citizenship. They get an interest-free loan essentially. You probably lose out on some growth as you're getting around 3% back in rental income, but could probably get more if you bought a house and got the capital appreciation as well. But you would have a lot more costs owning a house and you would probably pay capital gains tax on any increase in the house not to mention the costs of renting it out.

    There's also less risk than the funds. I didn't see any funds I liked and there was a big possibility that they could have nose-dived whereas this doesn't have that same risk. Overall I think it's a good option and I will consider it.

  4. Does buying an entire hotel that requires renovation qualify?

    Or, only individual room/apartment within an existing hotel.