Where to Stay in Porto for a Local Experience

Take in the Douro River views from the pool at Torel AvantGarde
Take in the Douro River views from the pool at Torel AvantGarde | Courtesy of Torel AvantGarde / Expedia
Ellie Ross

On the steep banks of the Douro River, Porto shines with culture, cool restaurants, bars and boutiques – plus some excellent places to stay. Immerse yourself in local Portuguese culture by joining a chef on his market visit, trying a francesinha (meat sandwich topped with melted cheese and hot sauce) or delighting in 1930s style. Whether you’re a millennial traveller or second-time visitor, these hotels will show you a different side to Portugal’s northern jewel.

1. Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace

Hotel, Luxury

Courtesy of Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace / Expedia

For luxury served with Art-Deco style, book into this elegant hotel on the buzzing Avenida dos Aliados. Built in 1923, the building oozes glamour, from the gold fixtures and sleek trimmings to the bold geometric prints. The 63 rooms and 13 suites – some with balconies – are spacious, and feature bespoke furniture and marble bathrooms. There’s also a spa and three restaurants and bars, including Le Monument, with Michelin-starred chef Julien Montbabut at the helm.

2. Torel AvantGarde

Boutique Hotel, Spa Hotel

Courtesy of Torel AvantGarde / Expedia

Combining the elegance of the 1930s and ’40s with contemporary Portuguese art, this boutique hotel offers comfort, great river views and excellent dining. It’s located high on a hill, yet just a mile from the Baixa downtown area. The 47 soundproofed rooms and suites are individually designed, based on avant-garde artists and designers, from Coco Chanel to Andy Warhol. Facilities include an outdoor pool, Turkish bath, gym and spa, while the restaurant has an extensive wine list.

3. Vila Foz Hotel & SPA

Boutique Hotel

Courtesy of Vila Foz Hotel and SPA / Expedia

This 19th-century villa is now an elegant, sea-facing hotel in the relaxed beach district of Foz. The 68 rooms and suites are spread across the original manor house and a newer extension, many with balconies overlooking the ocean. A spa offers a range of tailor-made treatments and the sophisticated Vila Foz Restaurant is the place to book for fine dining. Foodies can join the head chef on his trip to the local fish market, bookable through the hotel.

4. The Artist Porto Hotel & Bistrô

Boutique Hotel

Courtesy of The Artist Porto Hotel and Bistrô / Expedia

Managed by students from the local hospitality school, this boutique hotel offers a warm welcome, 17 spacious rooms and an original dining concept. Relics of the building’s art college heritage can still be seen, such as artwork by former students. There’s a bar serving good cocktails and pastéis de nata (custard tarts). Dinner at the restaurant is a highlight, with a surprise menu of five or seven beautifully presented dishes.

5. The Passenger Hostel

Budget Hotel, Hostel

Courtesy of The Passenger Hostel / Expedia

A great option for anyone arriving or leaving via the São Bento train station, as this hostel is located right inside it. Look out for the vintage pianos and antique furnishings that nod to the station’s 19th-century heritage. Accommodation options range from shared to private rooms, each sleeping between three and 12 guests. There’s a large, fully-equipped kitchen with long wooden tables, as well as a library, ‘under roof’ garden and laundry room.

6. Porto River

Hotel, Apartment

Courtesy of Porto River / Expedia

Set right on the banks of the Douro in the colourful Ribeira district, these river apartments are smart and stylish. Original features – such as wooden beams and stone walls – blend into modern touches. Expect tasty tapas, salads and wines in the relaxed Ribeira 50 restaurant. Rooms come with kitchenettes and have a rustic-chic feel, with pine flooring, stone walls and crisp white linen.

7. Zero Box Lodge Porto


Courtesy of Zero Box Lodge Porto / Expedia

Sleeping in a ‘box’ may not sound too appealing, but this design hotel has turned the concept on its head, offering an experience like no other. Choose from three types of room, or ‘box’: Zero is windowless with a private bathroom and double bed; One is the same but with a window; and Two is the biggest, comfiest version. All are air-conditioned, with plump pillows and towels. You can even stay for free, as long as you don’t mind sleeping in the Free Room – a fully glazed box that allows people to see inside (not for the shy…).

8. Wine Hostel


Courtesy of Wine Hostel / Expedia

This cheerful hostel is an affordable, centrally-located place to stay that’s ideal for anyone wanting to taste local tipples. Sip port wine cocktails on the hostel terrace, or walk five minutes across the Luís I Bridge to the city’s port wine cellars. Rooms range from garden view doubles to budget dorms sleeping up to eight. There’s a communal kitchen, lounge with board games and a buffet breakfast is available.

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