Top Ten Hotels in North Portugal for wine lovers
The north of Portugal is a secret jewel waiting to be discovered.
The landscape can be described as nothing short of breathtaking, with stunning long sandy beaches, striking mountains and lakes further inland.
Portugal’s secret garden also offers plenty for the wine lover too, being home to several wine producing regions, including the famous Douro valley, the lush undulating hills of the Vinho Verde and the lesser-known regions of Dão and the Bairrada, all of which produce unique yet outstanding wines.
The country has built a reputation for its sunny beaches, golf courses and buzzing nightlife from the Algarve. However when sitting on a veranda overlooking the Douro river absorbing the tranquillity and beauty of the region, one might think you are in a different country altogether. Untouched by tourists and with little foreign investment, the north offers a more traditional insight into this intriguing country.
The people are warm and generous, as well as being extremely proud. So much so, there are a number of different new luxurious hotels as well as converted historic buildings (Pousadas) to showcase what the local region has to offer.
We have picked our favourite getaway spots from the north. However please do add and share your experiences with us.
The Yeatman – Porto
Built by The Fladgate Partnership, and opened in 2010, this hotel is spectacular. Lining the south side of the estuary of the river Douro, the hotel provides the best view of the whole of Porto. Each room has it’s own private balcony with outstanding views of the old city centre as well as the river.
Additionally, the restaurant and bars are naturally based around the local fine wines and Ports, pairing them with local cuisine.
It will be hard to find a more luxurious hotel in all of Europe, let alone the north of Portugal, and it will also certainly be hard to find a swimming pool with a better backdrop.
This hotel showcases the pride of the people and in doing so displays the heritage of an industry that holds this region together.
Casas do Côro – Douro
This once derelict group of traditional casas (houses) have been restored to become charming, appealing and comfortable little lodgings.
They provide a sense of Mediterranean village life, surrounded by old granite walls that show no scars of the peaceful pace of life.
With fantastic local food and wine, this makes for a true Portuguese experience.
A trip in the second week of February (around Valentine’s day) will provide striking views of the almond trees in full bloom.
Situated on very edge of the Douro region and away from the river, one can get to the Dão region to the south in just half an hour by car.
If that wasn’t enough, the local village of Marialva is currently classified as one of Portugal’s 10 most historic villages.
Vintage House Hotel – Douro
This is a hotel for the Port lovers.
The building has a fantastic location on the river at the heart of the region in Pinhão, so much so that it is easily accessible by road, rail and boat.
Additionally, there are a number of historic wineries within walking distance – Quinta do Bomfim (Grahams) and Quinta da Roeda (Croft) among others.
The Vintage House provides a sophisticated hotel environment, where the service is personalised, professional and discreet. The in-house restaurant offers local cuisine at the highest level and as you’d expect, great wines and port to match.
With the patio on the river, it is a must for those interested in learning about what the region and its wines have to offer.
- Paço de São Cipriano – Minho
An isolated 15th century house that has a history of welcoming travellers, none more so than the pilgrims on the Santiago de Compostela route.
The estate is in the south of the Minho region, which is home to Vinho Verde.
The house is still very traditional (and still owned by the original family), and is surrounded by 80 acres of stunning scenery, with a large forest, ideal for a relaxing walk or two, as well as a garden with an array of striking colours from the camellias, mimosas and other flowers.
Douro 41 – Douro
Douro 41 gets its name for being 41 kilometres from Porto, the estuary of the River Douro.
While the name might seem somewhat uninspiring, the architecture is. The hotel is harmoniously integrated into the natural surroundings, providing a breathtaking panoramic view of the river as it flows past the window. This interior provides an intimate experience, with luxurious rooms, an excellent restaurant and a spa.
Those who might suffer from itchy feet will be able to take full advantage of the private marina that is ideal for jet ski and boat trips up the river.
If that doesn’t float your boat, then take full advantage of being near the archaeological site of the Côa Valley and unearth some of the secrets of the preserved region.
Quinta do Convento da Franqueira – Barcelos, Minho
This 16th century quinta will be the closest thing to home away from home for UK visitors. It is hardly surprising, as this country estate has been run by a British family for more than 40 years.
Within that time, the convent has been restored to bring the estate into the 21st century while still maintaining the old charm.
The owner, Piers Gallie, has an infectious passion for wine, and whilst the quinta no longer produces it’s own Vinho Verde any longer, Piers will gladly give a tour of the facilities that are still present and all the traditional processes of the region. A very special hideaway.
Quinta da Romaneira – Douro
This is a true hideaway. This relatively new quinta ensures you lose yourself in the region, and leave any stress at the airport, as you really are cut off from the outside world, with no telephones, televisions nor even mobile reception.
There isn’t even a menu for the restaurant, as the chef invites you to try the seasonal delicacies. Lunches entail a rustic picnic in the shade under some olive trees on the 400 hectare estate, as well as drinking some of the exquisite wine and Port produced on site.
Pousada do Gerês – Caniçada, Minho
This pousada is situated at the heart of the Gerês national park, with a breathtaking view over the river Cávado and the Caniçada dam.
The pousada has been converted from an old hunting lodge to a warm and inviting guesthouse.
The huge wooden beams and a big stone fireplace will have you reaching for a cigar and a glass of Port.
Despite not being immediately surrounded by vines, the Douro and Vinho Verde regions are not far away.
For the adventurous folk, walks, mountain biking and hunting are very much recommended when not relaxing on the veranda with a coffee or an evening aperitif.
Aquapura – Douro
A hotel where one can truly absorb the beauty of the landscape and indulge in the luxuries of the hotel. The Douro region is undoubtedly the inspiration for the design of the hotel with the main stately period house.
There are plenty of activities, so if you do not fancy leaving the property, there are swimming pools and tennis courts as well as a few restaurants and bars too. One can also relax with spa treatments under candlelight in the fresh valley breeze.
If that’s not enough, you can even take part in the winemaking process if you are lucky enough to visit during harvest time.
Buçaco Palace Hotel – Bairrada
This 5-star hotel is set in the Buçaco National Forest and was once a convent before becoming a hunting palace of the last of the Portuguese kings.
There is even a plaque commemorating the Battle of Buçaco, which celebrates the fact that the Duke of Wellington spent a night there before the battle on 27 September 1810.
While staying in a palace that will make you feel like royalty, one can also enjoy the wines from the local region of Bairrada.
Very little is known about this extremely underrated region outside of Portugal, but word is getting out. Within Portugal it is known for exceptionally well-priced sparkling wines, and red wine from the grape Baga. A hotel fit for kings.