The perfectly central location of this hotel and the charm of staying right in the World Heritage Site old town make this place top notch, and far outweigh the few minor drawbacks I noticed.
Located right on the riverfront in the historic Ribeira area, the hotel is surrounded by restaurants, and a short walk to most attractions, albeit generally an uphill walk to get to the attractions. In ten minutes you can be across the bridge to the area with the port cellars, or on your way up the hill, almost to the cathedral. The area's restaurants and bars are lively, packed with tourists and locals all day, and well into the evening. If you're in town to see the main sites in Porto and Gaia, I don't think you can choose a better location, both in terms of convenience and experience.
The service was excellent. All staff were friendly, professional, and eager to help. One example I appreciated occurred after I returned from a day trip to the vineyards by car, I was supposed to leave the car for the rental company to pick up the next morning. Parking being tricky in an old city, I asked the person at the desk where I might park since I had left it in a place that wasn't legal overnight. Going beyond what I would expect, he kindly offered to move it later in the evening, when parking began to clear up--all went smoothly, and it saved me a lot of hassle. All staff I spoke to were fluent in English; I also heard staff speaking to guests in French, and interacting with Spanish guests without any trouble.
I was a bit surprised that when I arrived at 17:00 my room was not quite ready. I was asked kindly to wait about 10 minutes in the bar, where I was given a glass of port. About 8 minutes later all was ready, so definitely not a big deal to me.
The room was clean and spacious. I reserved a deluxe river-view double, and was very pleased with the room I got, number 306. It faced the river in the western corner of the second of three buildings that make up the hotel. The corner location meant it had 5 doors opening out onto small balconies (3 facing the river, 2 facing west), and allowed for excellent cross breezes. From what I could tell, floors 3 and 5 had balconies with doors (the balconies are just wide enough to step out onto, but having them is still nice), while floors 2 and 4 had regular windows, without balconies. In this room, the bed was 2 wide single beds pushed together but made separately, as is often the case in European hotels.
The bathroom was nice, with pretty good lighting and a shower and bathtub (combined). Unlike in many hotel bathrooms in Europe, one could easily shower without soaking the floor or the rest of the bathroom. The good sized towels were perhaps a bit thin. One sink, with plenty of counter space, hairdryer, toilet and bidet, all in the same room as the shower/bath.
Complaints were minor. The TV was small (about 19 inch) for the size of the room, and did not swivel out for better viewing from the bed. Some of the Portuguese stations did not come in too well (a kind of double image), but the foreign stations (BBC world and CNN international in English, plus at least one in each of French, Spanish, and German) were fine. But, I wasn't there for watching TV, so this didn't really bother me. The wireless internet cost €5 per day, not outrageous, but it is a bit annoying that it can't be free. Also, it was weak to nonfunctional in my room. No iron in the room, but I didn't ask if one was available for loan.
Noise is potentially the biggest problem, something that is purely a result of the great location. The street on the river side of the hotel gets very little car traffic, but the area is a busy area for nightlife, so naturally you can hear a lot of people outside, especially late on weekend nights. On a couple of the nights I left the doors open, and it didn't bother me at all, but on Friday and Saturday nights I closed the doors when going to bed and put on the AC. With the doors closed I had no problem with the noise. I suspect that the farther west (away from the main square and restaurant area) your room is, the less noise you will have.
Overall, I would definitely go back, and strongly recommend the hotel. For me, the great location and staff far outweighed the few small drawbacks.
-Kyodai Restaurant, just around the corer, served the best sushi I've ever had, in a small, friendly setting. Reservations are pretty much a necessity. No menu, they serve what was best that day.
-Dom Tonhio Restaurant, in the line of riverfront restaurants, near the bridge, had excellent service and delicious bacalhau.
-Of the port cellars I did tours in (Taylor's, Sandeman, and Offley), Taylor's was free, including two tastings, and by far the best tour. They also had a good selection for tasting by the glass. Tasting at Graham's was quite good, with extra service (and pours) once they saw I was actually interested in the wine. Kopke does not offer tours, but has a comfortable tasting room and good selection.
Pay for the river side, request room with balcony.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.