Last week I posted a few photos from our recent break in the buzzing, beguiling and beautifully shabby city of Porto. Now I want to show you around the hotels we visited, starting with 1872 River House – a lovely little bolthole that I was reviewing for i-escape.com.
This tall, skinny mansion in salmon pink sits right on the riverbank in Ribeira (the Unesco-listed old town), with the Douro splashing gently at its feet. Like many of my favourite hotels, it’s a wonderful blend of old and new: it was born out of the ashes of a 19th-century building damaged by fire and is reached via a restored stained-glass walkway that casts colourful reflections over the cobbles outside.
Inside, the 8 bedrooms fan off a contemporary steel staircase that twists up through the centre of the house. All have period features – smart shutters, exposed stone walls, swathes of ornate azulejos; one even has a bed nestled beneath a huge old hearth. The furniture mixes antique chairs with sleek, modern pieces (including snazzy TVs that pop up from discreet boxes at the touch of a button), and the ensuites are clad in elegant black and white tiling.
We were lucky enough to stay in one of the rooms facing the water, and we loved watching boats pootle by as we sipped our morning coffee in bed. Other rooms are set under the eaves at the very top of the building and come in gleaming white, with sparkling chandeliers and views out over the rooftops.
The entire ground floor is taken up by the lounge, which is dotted with armchairs, glossy coffee-table books and vintage jugs filled with fresh flowers. It’s here that breakfast is served – a tasty spread of homemade cakes, pastries, jams and cheeses that’s available until a lazy 1pm, allowing us to indulge in some much-needed holiday lie-ins.
But best of all is the location. The hotel is surrounded by museums and restaurants and sits directly across the river from the port lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia, so it made a great base for our explorations. And when we tired of sightseeing, feasting and wine-tasting, we could amble back and watch life on the water as the sky turned pink.
I’ll post some snaps from our second Porto base in a few days; in the meantime, just head over to i-escape.com if you want to see more of 1872 River House.
Photography by Abi Dare