The directions to the hotel warn it's a little out of town, and it certainly isn't too easy to find if coming from afar. We've traversed Europe and found many obscure destinations without satnav assistance - this one proved the value of up to date outside help!
However, it's really very easy to find by driving east along the road beside the Douro river, running from the coast, past the city centre, almost directly to the hotel, just off the first roundabout. Only about 40 minutes to walk to the city and good views along the way.
Having found the hotel entrance don't blink, or you'll miss the turn in. The first turn after the roundabout is the Printing Museum and Boat Club where a queue of leaving vehicles may impede the view forward. Less than 50 metres/yards past that is a poorly indicated turn across cobbles into a nondescript drive passing a building site before a sharp left turn up a ramp to the hotel - then, WOW! It really is an impressive place.
We were greeted by handshakes from smartly dressed and attentive staff making real efforts to explain the hotel - you'll soon discover why. It probably takes a couple of days to find the best ways to get from the bedrooms to all the other facilities on the various floors and levels, assuming you ever find them. It's a labyrinth.
Our room faced east towards the industrial site next door, and more obliquely towards the river. It was excellent, quiet, and comfortable.
We arrived for a 2 night stay on a Sunday. Apparently the hotel was devoting all it's attentions to a buffet reception being hosted by the Honorary Italian Consul, so the dining room was not available. Not a problem, all the hotel guests were invited to the reception, with all we could eat or drink, no charge. A lovely warm and sunny evening on the terraces, the wines were fine, and the food most acceptable - I particularly enjoyed the Tiramisu.
The second night we made the mistake of not booking for dinner. The hotel is clearly getting an excellent reputation amongst the local population as well as with guests and the dining facilities are limited. After being told at 8.30 a table should be available by 9 to 9.30 we finally gave up when it seemed we'd not get a table until nearer 10. Guests clearly like to linger over their meals, which must be a good sign.
The breakfast was fine, although on both mornings we were ushered into an overflow room that seemed hastily prepared as it lacked things like sugar on the tables.
Would we stay again? Yes.
Did we get good value for money? Yes - although we spent rather less than anticipated by not managing to access the main dining room on either night!
Would we want to improve anything? Signage and appearance on approach from the road - not too difficult?
Tips. Concentrate hard on navigation to this hotel. And book early for dinner!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In the most unique and vibrant city of Portugal, discover the palace of the eighteenth century that, for a few days, will be your haven. Pestana Palácio do Freixo belongs to the Leading Hotels of the World and offers a unique and absolutely memorable experience, wrapped in classic luxury and filled with contemporary comfort. Located on the river that gives life to the best wine in the world, Pestana Palácio do Freixo rises serene, between French-style gardens and granite stonework, in a contrasting and balanced dialogue that welcomes you with care and attention. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Palacio Do Freixo Hotel Porto