I was very excited about staying at Rosa Et Al Townhouse, the second of the hotels in Porto which Chris and I were reviewing for i-escape.com (you can read more about our time in the city here and here). It’s set in the trendiest part of town, just off the café- and gallery-lined Rua de Miguel Bombarda, and I had a feeling we were going to love it.
And we did. Hidden behind a discreet white doorway (our taxi driver sped past it twice), this arty little place epitomises Porto’s new creative buzz. It was the brainchild of brother-and-sister team Emanuel and Patrícia (an architect and a former asset manager), who purchased the building as a dilapidated shell in 2010 and gave it an imaginative makeover before opening it to guests in 2012.
The result of their efforts is a wonderful mix of traditional architecture and contemporary design, from the sofa’d lobby at the front to the herb-scented garden to the rear. A rotating selection of modern art adorns the walls, and the atmosphere throughout is warm, welcoming and laid-back; we felt any stresses from the slightly fraught cab journey fade away the minute we stepped inside.
A spiral staircase topped by a magnificent glass dome sweeps up to the 6 bedrooms, which all pair period features (arched doorways, cast-iron fireplaces, ornate cornicing) with sleek mid-century modern furniture by the likes of Charles and Ray Eames, Jean Prouvé and Hans Wegner. It’s all offset beautifully by white walls, wooden floorboards and striking lighting, plus colourful throws handmade by Patrícia, who teaches crochet and quilting in her spare time. The bathrooms are just as indulgent, with clawfoot tubs, snuggly robes and lovely Castelbel Porto lotions and potions.
Our room sat under a tangle of rafters at the very top of the building – a bit of a clamber, but well worth it for the soaring ceiling, French doors and tiled ante-room. It even had a garden-facing balcony where we could linger in the evening sunshine with an aperitif from the honesty bar and a design mag plucked from the collection on the landing.
As well as providing a visual feast, the hotel offers plenty of treats for the tastebuds: lazy brunches, homemade afternoon cakes, a help-yourself table brimming with jars of help-yourself teas (Patrícia is something of a tea aficionado). We particularly loved the relaxed, multi-course dinners, which are accompanied by free-flowing wine, flickering candles and soft jazz. We began with port and red-berry cocktails, before moving on to grilled tiger prawns with fennel and nuts, bacalhau rolled in spices, and a gooey chocolate fondant served with mint-infused strawberries. Delicious stuff.
But perhaps the best thing about Rosa Et Al Townhouse is its excellent pricing. With rooms starting from as little as €118 per night, I don’t think it will be long before we squeeze in a return trip…
Book a stay at Rosa Et Al Townhouse through i-escape.com.
All photography by Abi Dare