The seaside hamlet of Peniche, a rustic town jutting into the Atlantic about halfway down Portugal’s coast, has long been a favored destination for Europe’s surfers, including John Malmqvist, who helped found Nord, Sweden’s first surf brand. “The first time I came to Peniche was eight years ago in search of waves,” he explains.

“I found not only some of the best waves in Europe, but also the most consistent,” he says. “There are very few days of the year when you can’t surf in Peniche.” So when Malmqvist, ready to switch gears after years of toiling behind a desk at Nord, decided to decamp, Peniche was the obvious choice. “I got sick of it because I was working with surf but I could never afford to travel,” he laughs. “Time for a change of lifestyle.”

That new lifestyle revolves around the Surfers Lodge Peniche, a high-end hotel Malmqvist opened this January that brings a new standard of hospitality to the sleepy fishing village. His fellow Swede Jakob Andersson brings a Scandinavian touch to local Mediterranean ingredients, while the design—by Lars Malmqvist of luxury hotel design firm Living Design—establishes a homey, inviting vibe, from the stacks of board games to the sculptural dreamcatcher and vintage surf photographs on the walls. “I always wanted to have a sustainable approach to the design,” Malmqvist explains, pointing to the bicycle parts reconstructed into lamps and the bar made from abandoned boats.

A rooftop pool offers expansive views of the crashing waves, a perfect introduction to the sea for students of the Surf School, the lodge’s in-house training program that offers personalized lessons to everyone from first-timers to experts looking to take it up a notch on the area’s legendary barrels. For Malmqvist, the chance to share his love for surfing is reward enough, but the Surfers Lodge Peniche also serves as the completion of a lifelong goal. “I had a dream when I was around twelve years old that I was surfing,” he recalls. “Because of this I applied to go on a foreign-exchange program in California. I told the company I wanted to surf and they put me in the middle of the desert. I only surfed about ten times that year.” Now Malmqvist and his guests can surf as often as they want.

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