The beautiful city of Porto is like a rare vintage port – rich, delicious and only getting better with age. Here are the best boutique hotels from which to soak up the city, all bookable with Culture Trip.
Sitting on the Douro River, close to the Atlantic and with a charming historic centre, Porto has plenty of picturesque spots in which to base your Portuguese adventure. But which to pick? Happily, there are a host of boutique hotels spread across the city offering a prime location and plenty of style – how about a fancy converted palace, former stationary shop or luxury townhouse?
History and modernity meet at this five-star hotel on Rua das Flores. It’s comprised of two buildings – a 16th-century palace and a new wing. Inside, 66 elegant rooms sit beside a spa with a sauna, gym and indoor pool. There’s even a reading room and 18th-century chapel. The bar and bistro both retain original features, such as stone walls and pillars, and serve everything from sautéed garlic prawns to duck magret.
This centrally located hotel has a laid-back vibe – guests are encouraged to borrow books from the living room library and help themselves to homemade cake in the bar. Rooms and suites are uncluttered and stylish, with wooden floors, whitewashed and exposed stone walls and contemporary lighting. The penthouse suite features a large balcony with river views. The bar has a cool, industrial feel with high ceilings and craft beer on tap.
Grand and elegant in equal measure, this luxurious hotel has been a meeting place for Porto’s elite for more than 60 years. And it’s easy to see why when you step across the threshold to be greeted by high ceilings, ornate chandeliers and gilded mirrors. The Vogue Cafe is a fashionable hangout with food to match the chic interior – feast on tandoori beef tartare followed by crispy suckling pig and peanut butter cheesecake.
Courtesy of Vila Foz Hotel & SPA / Expedia | Courtesy of Vila Foz Hotel & SPA / Expedia
Sea views, fine dining, sumptuous accommodation and an excellent spa are all on tap at this luxurious hotel, located 5km (3mi) west of the city centre. Dining in the restaurant is a highlight thanks to the palatial interior and gourmet food from head chef Arnaldo Azevedo. The 68 rooms and suites vary from twin and king-sized rooms to suites with balconies and various living areas.
This cosy hotel at the end of Rua das Flores was once one of the oldest stationery shops in Europe. It has 41 classy rooms, a brilliant restaurant and friendly service, and artefacts from the former store are displayed on its walls and in cabinets – look out for the retro typewriter and boxes of pen nibs. Rooms are decorated in calming shades of grey and green, with big windows allowing natural light to stream in, and bathrooms with Portuguese tiling and freestanding baths.
Sleeping in a box may not sound so appealing, but the “boxes” of this hotel are cool and comfortable, offering an affordable night’s kip in the heart of Porto. The wooden lodges have no windows or TVs, and come in three sizes, all with private bathrooms. There’s also the chance to stay the night for free, which involves sleeping in a glass box that can be seen by other guests … Not one for the shy.
This small riverfront hotel in the old town offers eight cosy rooms, a lively terrace bar and superb views of the water. The style is elegant, while inglenook fireplaces and stone walls retain some of the building’s history – products such as salt, cod and cotton were transported along the Douro from here. Rooms feature vintage furniture and balconies with either a river or city view. The healthy, all-day continental breakfast is a highlight.
Wine and meat lovers should consider this five-star hotel on the Douro River. Its excellent restaurant specialises in beef cuts and fine wine. And the highlights don’t end there – rooms are spacious and each have their own style, with the best offering balconies overlooking the water and the port wine cellars of the city. The hotel comprises 18 buildings, with each room created from these historic houses.
Those looking to save a little on price but not skimp on their experience should consider Oporto. Located in the historic centre a couple blocks away from the river, it’s well situated for visitors wanting to see as many landmarks as possible without straying too far, and is a conveniently short walk from the São Bento train station, Rua Santa Catarina, and Avenida dos Aliados. Previous guests complimented the large bed, convenient location, and value for their budget. For an experience that’s truly Porto, choose a room with a terrace.
If privacy is a priority, consider this townhouse in the artsy neighborhood of Rua de Miguel Bombarda. Each of the seven suites feels like a self-contained home within an old house, with original wooden floors, retro collectibles, clawfoot tubs and balconies overlooking the garden and city. Comfort is king – so expect huge beds and super-soft cotton sheets. Relax with an in-room spa treatment or afternoon tea in the ground-floor dining room.
Near the main shopping strip of Rua de Santa Catarina, this traditional Portuguese house has been redesigned with modern features, offering a local living experience. Expect a Portuguese apartment feel, with glass-paned doors and a central wooden staircase, and white walls that give a fresh finish. Facilities include a wine bar and massage studio, and you can eat a breakfast of local sheep’s cheese, custard tarts and Algarve oranges in the pretty garden.
This grand, 18th-century palace is peacefully located on the Douro River, further up from the throng of the touristic areas. The grounds include French gardens, while the building itself is a unique example of baroque architecture, and is adorned with Portuguese tiling and ceiling frescoes. The spa offers a range of face and body treatments and everything from romantic suites to family-friendly rooms are available.
Standing prominently on the main city avenue, Avenida dos Aliados, this five-star hotel is housed inside an 18th-century palace. It has bags of age-old charm paired with contemporary luxuries – glittering chandeliers and velvet armchairs blend with in-room Nespresso machines and modern artwork in the bar and dining area. The wellness centre offers unusual treatments such as candle wax massages, and the classy Bar das Cardosas has live music most nights.
Built on the site of the old Baquet Theatre, this unique hotel pays homage to the structure that burnt down in 1888. The atmosphere is dark and brooding, with dim lighting, a “box office” reception and costumes hanging in glass cabinets. The 75 rooms – available in five categories – feature gold and bronze colour schemes, big windows and rainfall showers. Palco (meaning “The Stage”) restaurant has a romantic feel, and there’s also a 24-hour gym and in-room massages.
Music notes and scores by famous composers adorn the walls of this boutique hotel, located close to the Casa da Música concert hall. Other fun touches include violins displayed behind the reception desk and treble clef lamps. The 85 guest rooms are available in three categories – standard, executive and superior – and feature a clean style, with crisp white linen and uncluttered spaces. Bom Sucesso Gourmet restaurant serves food all day and kosher options are available.
This stylish hotel has wine at its heart. Think barrel headboards, grape spa treatments, a decanter-shaped pool and a 25,000-bottle cellar. It’s also close to some top wine-tasting spots, and is just a 15-minute walk from the old town. Eating options range from the two-Michelin-starred The Yeatman, to the relaxed pool lounge and à la carte at The Orangerie. Rooms feature top-notch bedding and marble bathrooms, and the best has a copper bath and revolving bed.