Where to stay in Porto
Portugal’s second city is riding a wave and its hotel scene is equal to the task, with wine-themed haunts up to palatial pads.
In a city dominated by independent hotels, Porto offers a plethora of unique and interesting boutique places to stay. From converted warehouses and 19th-century palaces to properties in and around the famous wine district, you’re never far from a sense of history and occasion in Portugal’s second city. And with visitor statistics on the up, Porto is seeing a growing number of new openings and renovations to keep up with its newfound popularity. Baixa, in the heart of the city, and Ribeira, by the River Douro, are two of the most obvious places to stay but, across the river, Vila Nova de Gaia is the centre of the historic wine trade, while neighbourhoods such as Bonfim are on the up.
Discreetly tucked away on a quiet road in the trendy Bonfim neighbourhood, a brisk 20-minute walk east of the centre of Porto, M.Ou.Co is one of the city’s newest hotels, having opened its doors in 2021. Bonfim is perhaps the obvious place to convert a former warehouse into a casually cool boutique hotel; it was recently dubbed one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world by Time Out, with the creative crowds drawn to the area’s elegant townhouses and charming, old-school spots to eat and drink.
M.Ou.Co ticks all the necessary design boxes for the resurgent neighbourhood. Concrete, dark wood, glass and natural light feature highly and, alongside vintage, mid-century furniture, there’s a distinctly analogue feel to the place. The music area has more than 600 vinyl records to play, with turntables in the rooms, and guitars are even available to practice on.
The 62 rooms are minimal and stylish, their stripped-back nature reflecting the understated vibe of the hotel. The room rates are very reasonable, too. The ground-floor bar is distinctly retro-cool and casual — with DJs in the evenings — while the basement restaurant offers an impressive breakfast buffet as well as modern and traditional dishes such as brás-style cod.
And complementing the music theme, there’s a 300-capacity live venue that hosts concerts, exhibitions and discussions. There’s also a small outdoor pool and terrace, both of which are ideal for the warmer months. From €85 (£75).
In the heart of the city’s historic wine district, this 10-storey hotel is set within seven acres of land, has 109 rooms and boasts one of the best views across the Douro. Add to that Relais & Châteaux membership, a two Michelin-starred restaurant and two infinity pools, and it’s undoubtedly one of Porto’s best hotels. From €300 (£265).
It’s easy to spot the theme at Torel Palace, the 19th-century mansion hotel near central Batalha Square, with its book-filled library, well-thumbed coffee table tomes and 24 lavish rooms named after famous Portuguese authors. Its restaurant pays homage to José Saramago, with a multi-sensory menu. From €182 (£161).
The House of Sandeman
Wine-themed House of Sandeman is in Vila Nova de Gaia and has affordable dorms with bed frames inspired by port barrels as well as private rooms. Artwork from the Sandeman wine brand features throughout, and the cellars are close for tastings. From €16 (£14) in a dorm and €110 (£97) in a private room.
Published in the March 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
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