Portugal has quickly skyrocketed to the top of the list when it comes to destinations travellers are most interested in visiting post-Pandemic thanks to recently becoming the country with the world’s highest vaccination rate. But even before COVID-19 had its grip on the world, it was a country already viewed as an up-and-coming destination for a number of reasons including location, affordability, history, beauty, and of course…wine.
We were among the group that had it on our travel to-do list for the past few years but a window of opportunity to jump on a trip with our friends at Iberian Wine Tours coupled with the comfort of going to a destination that has shifted from pandemic to endemic, made it simply impossible to resist.
As with previous tours we’ve done with Iberian, the level of quality and thought that goes into each aspect of their trips is simply unmatched. Wineries range from well-known to undiscovered gems and each meal isn’t just a nice lunch or dinner, it is always a gastronomic experience. The same holds true for their choices in accommodation and once again we were treated to luxurious lodgings that each had their own character, a jaw-dropping view and were the perfect proximity to our daily AdVINEtures.
The Yeatman Hotel in Porto
We began our trip in Porto and couldn’t have had a more auspicious kick-off than staying at the Yeatman Hotel, a member of the Relais & Châteaux hotel collection.
As you would expect from this renowned group, the Yeatman is the epitome of elegance with its unmistakable terraced rooms mimicking the vineyards in the Douro Valley providing breathtaking views for every room. Add to that top quality amenities such as indoor and outdoor infinity pools, a world-class spa, a beautifully decorated interior, not to mention a two-star Michelin restaurant, and it takes no time at all to transition into full relaxation mode upon arrival.
Located across the Douro River in Gaia, it sits overlooking Porto surrounded by the most esteemed Port Houses in the region. While a bit more of a trek to get into Porto, the serenity and incredible views make it absolutely worth the longer walk or very short Uber ride.
The self-proclaimed “wine hotel” is an absolute must for wine lovers as it includes an excellent wine shop, wine tastings that can be arranged with their in-house sommeliers, winery visits that can be arranged with nearby top Port Houses, a large and extensive wine cellar, and even the spa features wine-themed treatments!
The Vintage House in Pinhão
While hard to leave the comfort of the Yeatman, we were quickly rewarded with an even more unique and distinct stay at the Vintage House Hotel in Pinhão. We couldn’t have imagined our views would get any better until we walked into our room and stared at the adjacent hillslope lined with colourful vines in their full autumn glory.
Built in the 19th Century, the Vintage House was originally used as a wine storage warehouse for Taylor’s Port House.
It was refurbished in 2016 and is a sister property to the aforementioned Yeatman Hotel. It’s quite smaller in size to the Yeatman, resulting in less amenities, but it’s certainly not lacking in quality and satisfaction. It’s design also provides spectacular river views regardless of the room, and we happily spent each morning out on our terrace soaking in the tranquility and each evening enjoying a night cap in the Library Bar.
The Pestana Palace in Lisbon
Our final stay was in Lisbon at the Pestana Palace, a five-star luxury hotel situated in the historic Valle Flôr Palace, the former royal residence of the Marquises.
After many years of not being used, the Palace was in a state disrepair and essentially abandoned until the Pestana Hotel group purchased the property in 1992. In 1997 it was declared a national monument and has become the hotel group’s flagship property.
The restoration of the hotel at the time of purchase was both purposeful and intentional with an objective of maintaining the grandeur of this historic property while providing contemporary updates for the modern guest. It truly feels as though you’re stepping back in time from the moment you walk through stone gate entrance catching your first glimpse of grandeur of the main building.
Each room is filled with antique furniture and the walls adorned with impressionist oil-canvas paintings. Exploring the property reveals hidden gems down each hallway including magnificent stained-glass windows, expansive archways, and opulent chandeliers. And just in case you weren’t impressed enough, you might find yourself wandering into the property’s private chapel for a quiet moment of reflection.
While it offers no views of the Douro River, it does provide for an exclusive peek into a bygone era complete with all the Royal treatment.