Getting away from it all allows our bodies and brains to take a break. Going on a vacation – no matter how long and no matter where – will do wonders for your productivity. But sometimes vacation planning, including finding a wonderful place to stay that won’t break the bank, can take a lot of time. To save you time and stress if you ever go to Porto, Portugal, here’s a well-kept secret: the best Porto, Portugal hotel.
Well, it’s not actually a hotel. I hesitate at sharing this incredible find because when the world finds out about it, my favorite place to stay in Porto might not be available.
Our last two nights of a tour through Portugal were to be spent at a hotel on a popular pedestrian promenade in Porto. When planning our trip, we decided to stay a few days longer in Porto after the tour ended, so we searched around for a hotel to see if there was a “better one” than the one where we’d be staying on the tour. This is how we discovered the Douro Riverside Apartments. And boy are we glad that we did! There was nothing specifically wrong with the tour’s hotel, but there was also nothing specifically outstanding about it either. Our stay at the Douro Riverside Apartments was absolutely enjoyable and at a lower rate than the hotel’s.
What I loved about our third floor apartment:
*The view – Here’s the view out of our window. Need I say more?
*The location – You’re only steps away from Dom Luis I Bridge and from the pedestrian way and port wine lodges in Gaia.
*The streamlining – I’m not sure if they’re the owners or property managers (or both), but Jorge and Celeste have obviously been there, done that – and know how to operate efficiently.
*The customer service – While you might not ever see them, Jorge and Celeste will answer your emailed pre-arrival questions within 24 hours. While you’re there, they’ll answer within a couple of hours. You can always call them if you have an emergency. The main entrance and individual apartment doors (one apartment on each floor) have keypads with codes, the instructions to which you’ll receive via email a few days before your stay.
*The supplies – There was a large-enough refrigerator to hold our breakfast and picnic food. A small freezer allows you to make ice for your port and tonics. You’re provided a bottle of wine for your first night and two coffee pods for each morning you’re there. There’s a hob, toaster and microwave, but we never used them. There are also dishes, glasses, utensils, serving platters, pots and pans. Oh yes, there’s also the all-important corkscrew.
What you need to be aware of:
*No elevators – The stairs are narrow and steep, and each stair seems to be a different width and height. It’s a bit of a struggle just to get a small rollerboard and backpack up to the third floor, but hey – you’ll burn more calories, so you can eat and drink more! If you plan to imbibe, hold on to the handrails! If stairs are a problem for you, reserve the first or second floor apartment. I don’t know what their views are, so be sure to check out those photos in other reviews.
*Small by American standards – This apartment is typical in size for Europe, but if you’ve never been overseas, you might think it’s tiny. The website description says that the third floor apartment sleeps four. You can squeeze two adults (double bed in the bedroom) and two kids (small pull-out sofa in the approximately 8’x10’ living room-kitchen-dining room). If it’s two couples, you’d better really like each other because you’ll be in each other’s personal space the entire time. The size was perfect for two of us.
*Bring ear plugs – The updated windows keep the apartment fairly quiet, but if you’re a light sleeper, some of the loud vehicles that occasionally whisk by on the street below might interrupt your sleep. Ear plugs will get you a sound night’s sleep.
I wouldn’t think twice about staying here again. Book early so you can have your choice of nights!