A first-choice stay in Portugal’s second city, Jardins do Porto Boutique Guest House resides in a one-time bourgeois townhouse and is a prime example of all that’s good about Porto’s current approach to design-led, boutique stays: rescuing a site, making a feature of its historic bones (a showpiece skylight, high stucco ceilings) and tempering any stiff opulence with warm, refined materials (lightwoods, silk drapes, dark leather accents). This interplay of traditional and contemporary is as smooth as the Douro’s current, and is the perfect foil for the hotel’s green-fingered theme – each room is named after one of the city’s gardens, rooms are flush with a healthy selection of foliage that Piet Oudolf would approve of, and the conservatory restaurant serves from a plant-based menu.
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A drink each arrival; GoldSmiths also get a daily afternoon snack
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £68.32 (€79), including tax at 6 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.00 per person per night on check-in.
Rates include a vegetarian/vegan breakfast buffet. Eggs are also on offer to guests who easily crack when trying to be disciplined.
If you’re bored of Bordeaux and no longer see the beauty in Beaujolais, jet to Porto in September, when harvesting season for the city’s namesake sweet wine is in full flow.
At the hotel
Restaurant, bar, free WiFi, laundry service. In rooms: Flat-screen TV, Marshall speakers, GuestU smartphone, Nespresso coffee machine, Alessi kettle, minibar
Our favourite rooms
Although Jardins do Porto is flush with natural light and swathes of cream, we’ve taken a liking to the Palácio de Cristal Suite, as its moody terracotta palette has an enveloping quality that encourages guests to stay in and cosy up. The two loft rooms, added during the renovation, may not feature period details, but they have a secluded-away feel and premier balcony views over the hotel garden.
Summers in Porto are typically warm Iberian affairs, but the darker months often dictate you bring a selection of Stutterheim waterproofs.
The garden, which is centred around a stone fountain and where you can hear only the cackle of seagulls, is a fine place to nurse your morning bica.
You can bring small pets as long as they are well-trained and must be with owners at all times. They’re not allowed in the restaurant or bar. Pet supplies can be requested in advance. See more pet-friendly hotels in Porto.
The hotel uses solar panels and eco-friendly cleaning products, and the in-house restaurant has a plant-based menu (meat and fish are avoided entirely) and sources its ingredients from local, small-scale producers.
Pull up a seat in the main atrium to soak up the conservatory-style setting complete with glass roof – any patter of rain and drizzle only adds to the already beating, buoyant atmosphere.
A maritime-style mockneck jumper from sustainable local menswear label La Paz.
Even though it set up shop in a city reputed for its use of offal and offcuts, vegetarian restaurant Jardineiro (‘gardener’) has proven there’s local appetite for plant-based cuisine. The colourful interior – a medley of plush seating and Arraiolos rugs – matches chef Jerónimo Abreu’s punchy dishes: the tofu Wellington with mushrooms spinach, roasted potato and cauliflower mash; and the crunchy cannelloni with lemon mousseline, millet popcorn and citronella sauce allow you to be both disciplined and gluttonous.
The intimate bar specialises in wine, and cocktails that are, of course, heavy on fruit and veg. Sipping a coconut highball (Dewar's Caribbean Smooth whisky, coconut, lemon, 1724 Tonic Water) can be as dizzying and enjoyable as scaling Porto’s undulating avenues.
Breakfast is served 8.30am–11am; dinner is served 7pm–10pm.
Located in the heart of Baixa, the downtown neighbourhood that’s known for its steep streets, historic landmarks and lively social scene, Jardins do Porto is right in the thick of things.
Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport is a 20-minute drive away. Transfers (€25-€30 each way) can be arranged with the hotel.
São Bento (10 minute-walk away) and Campanhã (15-minute drive away) are the closest train stations. Transfers (€15-€25 each way) can be arranged with the hotel. Trindade metro station is a five-minute walk away.
Worth getting out of bed for
When in Porto, do as the Portuenses do. This golden rule will lead you to low-key, unpresuming places favoured by locals, as at Confeitaria do Bolhão, where your fuel for the day will come in the form of the perennially popular pastéis de nata (we also recommend you pig out on the piglet ball). For those who know their tannins from their terroir, it’d take some serious Iberian irreverence to forgo a tasting tour of the city’s famed fortified wine. Set aside an afternoon to swap the pleasures of Jardins do Porto for the pleasures of Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, where at onsite Antiqvvm you can sample some of the most coveted bottles on the continent; then dock at waterside Kopke, the city’s oldest cellar which produces perhaps the best tawny that euros can buy. During days when you have a thirst for something beyond the barrels, head to Fundação de Serralves, one of the country’s finest collections of contemporary art – a series of works by Joan Miró are among the highlights – all housed across a cluster of buildings, the main one of which has a millennial pink facade that belies its near century-old standing. If, then, you’ve been inspired to seek out something to showcase on your own walls (but are after an item that’s a little easier on the Amex than an original Warhol), try artisanal rug maker Gur whose vibrant, often whimsical designs can be used as either hangings or hallway runners. Depending on whether space in your Rimowa allows, fill your boots at the Feeting Room, where you can try some Portuguese footwear brands on for size (Auprès deals in pared-back, premium heels; sunseeking tastemakers favour +351’s sliders), and clean out what’s left of your wallet at soap and beauty shop Claus Porto, where the fine fragrances and grooming gems are handmade and encased in the type of Art Deco-style packaging you’d likely find on Jay Gatsby’s vanity.
It used to be the case that the best places to catch a bite were closer to the coast – but, in recent years, Porto’s current crop of flagship chefs have gone inland to Baixa. Although tweezers and squirt bottles have become the rule in some of the city’s contemporary kitchens, Elemento chef Ricardo Dias Ferreira still makes a case for Flintstone-style, primitive cooking by flavouring dishes with smoke from his brutish fire pit – try the lamb loin with nettles and morels, or the roasted goat and carbonara sauce. Traça pays homage to its roots as a one-time grocer’s: the stewed wild partridge can tame any famished carnivore’s cravings. And for minimum-fuss, maximum-carbs, seek out a francesinha, a multi-tiered sandwich comprising layers of meat topped with cheese and covered with a sinister beer sauce, the type of thing that should come with its own disclaimer – the best version of this heart-drubbing delicacy can be found at O Afonso.
For nights when you’re after a sip of something other than fortified wine, head to the Royal Cocktail Club, a speakeasy-style hangout within a 10-minute walk from – and a 20-minute stumble back to – the hotel. Pull up a stool at the marble-topped bar and order in a few of the innovative mixes: you’ll find salvation in A Treasure Named Holy Grail (Martin Miller’s gin, Martini vermouth), and the Hemingway (Tanqueray No. Ten, Grand Marnier) may not be novel, but it’s still a work of genius. For a final nightcap, stream along to Flow, where the On The Rocks’s name belies its steadying mix of tequila, lime juice, Angostura bitters and Cointreau.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Porto and unpacked their azulejo tiles and bottles of port, a full account of their citybreak will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Jardins do Porto in Porto…
Owner Dina Machado collaborated with local architects Pedra Líquida to work on transforming a 19th-century townhouse into this sophisticated stay that has all the modesty of a straight-talking Portuense. Despite its past life as a bourgeois residence, the three-storey building embodies an independent, modest style that creates a soft landing for those who’ve just dropped anchor in Porto: luxury maximalism is jettisoned in favour of an interior that pairs original detailing (hydraulic mosaics, handrails, shutters) with a restrained aesthetic of blondewood, pendant lighting, and subdued hues. A horticultural theme (the lofts have a bird’s eye view of the hotel garden, and svelte scenesters swear by the globally inspired, plant-based dishes at Jardineiro, such as the tofu Wellington, and linguine with spicy ‘meatballs’) softens any lingering pomp.
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