Ladies and gents, step right up for the night of your life at the Editory Boulevard Aliados. Ride the giant duckie in the rooftop pool, gasp and blush at saucy and surreal artworks, and catch the whole show in the ‘big top’ bar. This bold Porto stay certainly does bring the ‘ooh and aah’ moments, with – aptly named – design studio Ding Dong utterly disregarding accepted uses for colour and material, to mix and match black-and-white-chevron flooring, leopard-print carpet as wallpaper, sculptures that look like punched Playdough and a whole colour wheel of paints. The chef’s in on the fun, the crowd is game, and you’re sandwiched between two very cool streets – so, roll right on up.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £97.59 (€112), 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-out.
Rates don’t include breakfast (from €20).
The hotel has adapted rooms with widened doors (available on request), and an elevator, for guests with mobility issues.
At the hotel
Roof terrace, lobby lounge, gym, concierge, charged laundry service, free high-speed WiFi. In rooms: 49-inch LCD TV with Chromecast streaming, Bluetooth speaker, minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, tea-making kit, free bottled water, air-conditioning, bathrobes and slippers, pillows menu, soundproofing, and Castelbel and Claus bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Purposefully styled to – slightly – dial down the Pop brights and signature ‘neon lobster’ hue of the Editory Boulevard Aliados’s public spaces, rooms here tend to have more pastels and gently patterned wallpapers. All have oxblood-painted window frames, vintage accents (painted ceilings, wood panelling), and eye-catching touches such as scallop-edged lamps, velvet headboards and the odd retro rotary phone. Views switch between Avenida dos Aliados and Rua do Almada – the former is probably the prettier – and we do love the suite for its freestanding cherry-red bath tub, handsomely pinstriped living space and dog portraits on the walls.
The open-air pool is inlaid into the hotel’s interior roof terrace. It’s lined in black stone, large enough for laps and is buffered by plants, but we’re most interested in the giant rubber-duckie inflatables you can bask on. The chessboard terrace to one side has loungers and alfresco dining tables, plus a pergola for shade in summer and to hang heaters in winter.
There’s no spa but the hotel’s small gym is accessible with your room key 24 hours a day. Even here, the designers have worked their magic, adding two-toned mirrors for buffness-admiring and botanical-print wallpaper for a sense of serenity.
You know those swimsuits with cut-outs in places that seem to defy the laws of physics and feel unfathomable to get into? The Editory Boulevard Aliados’s pool is the place to give those a go.
The hotel’s artwork has been well considered by Ding Dong design studio, with João Galrão’s avant-garde sculptures, Sofia Torres’ murals and Mónica Menez’s photography.
On the one hand, design studio Ding Dong have made this stay as playful and colourful as possible, with a vague circus theme. On the other, the artwork is slightly naughty in places. Kids can stay, but adults will probably have more fun.
The hotel goes hard on eliminating food waste, educating their staff on reduction, recycling, disposal and prevention; and customers can request doggie bags if needed. Plus the hotel recycles duly and has energy-efficient lighting.
Sit nose-to-window in the bar watching the hip young Portuense parade by.
The restaurant’s name does mean ‘illicit’ – surely an open invitation to dine in something daring.
Ilícito restaurant feels so wrong, yet so right – after all, they do make the bold moves of bringing together black-and-white-chevron flooring, floral sofas, leopard-print carpet on the walls, velvet banquettes, and a pink João Galrão sculpture that looks endearingly like chewed bubblegum. Vaguely erotic artwork adds some spice to proceedings and chef André Silva (previously awarded with Michelin stars and more) brings the rest of the ingredients. You can go à la carte, but the tasting menus that play out in acts are more fun – take the ‘juggler’ with salmon, scallops and roasted mango; ray in a coconutty curry sauce; and a dessert of purple sweet potato, carrot and chocolate dirt. Or the ‘contortionist’, with mind-bending combos of lobster barbecue chicken, truffle and popcorn in a foie-gras sauce; or brill with lemon purée and caviar in a veal jus.
Roll-up, roll-up for the Editory’s circus-themed bar, whose shopfront style window facing Rua do Almada makes it feel all the more performative, and offers fantastic people watching alongside classic cocktails. Portuguese artist Sofia Torres brings the spectacle with two vast red-curtain-framed murals depicting cymbal-clashing monkeys, carousel horses, showgirls and tigers doing tricks – and look up to the ceiling for something saucier. Add a trippy Twin Peaks-esque black-and-white floor, a be-skirted bar counter a sawn-in-half woman might spring from whole, and cocktails that’ll make you scream for more, and you have quite the extravaganza.
Breakfast is from 7.30am to 10.30am, lunch from 12.30pm to 4pm and dinner from 7.30pm to 10pm.
The Editory Boulevard Aliados occupies two buildings in central Porto; one facing the city’s de facto main drag, the very grand Avenida dos Aliados, the other facing buzzy Rua do Almada.
Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport is an easy 20-minute drive from the hotel. The hotel can help to arrange private transfers on request (costs vary depending on the number of guests and luggage). Road-trippers could fly into Huberto Delgado Airport in Lisbon, a three-hour drive away.
The Aliados Metro stop is just a few steps away, and will whisk you north to south across the Douro River. Main station Campanhã – itself a destination for its blue-and-white azulejo-tiled interior – is around a 15-minute drive away; direct trains from Lisbon stop here (around a three-hour journey).
With various public-transport options and picturesque avenidas to stomp up and down, Porto is best explored car-free. However, the city is ideal for a multi-stop trip, with Valença an hour away, Lisbon three hours away, Comporta four hours away, and the Algarve around six hours by car.
The Avenida dos Aliados tram stop lies very close to the hotel, offering an easy and cost-effective way to cross the city.
Worth getting out of bed for
At the Editory, you’re sandwiched between the Rua do Almada and its rabble of balcony-fronted and Azulejo-tiled façades, and Avenida dos Aliados, Porto’s major artery, which is so grand, even its McDonalds has a glamorous art deco frontage (it was once the Café Imperial). First, make a beeline for the Câmara Municipal do Porto, to get the lay of the land from the top of its bell tower. Orient yourself ornately with stops at the Clérigos Church (another view-blessed spot), the 12th-century cathedral, exquisitely manicured Palácio de Cristal gardens, former stock exchange Palácio da Bolsa, and Livraria Lello – a dream of a bookshop with stained-glass ceilings, art nouveau flourishes and criss-crossing staircases. Then, shake off the frills and flounces at strikingly modern Rem Koolhaas-designed Casa da Música, a concert hall with diverse programming, and Fundação de Serralves, whose clean-cut geometric structure houses big-idea artworks. Amble along to seafront Foz do Duoro for sandy praias and antique fortresses. Then hop on a cruise along the River Douro, the gateway to Portugal’s fruitful wine region. Other more active ways of getting to know the city include bike or helicopter tours, a ride on the Gaia Cable Car, or a vertiginous trip up the Funicular dos Guindais, which gives a dramatic aspect of the Dom Luís I Bridge. Immerse yourself in the buzz of Bolhão Market, munch your way through the street eats of Bom Sucesso Market, and fix yourself a picnic – with the prettiest of packaging – with stops at old-school grocery stores Casa Oriental and A Pérola do Bolhão. And, lest we forget Portugal’s thirst for football, you can get that back-of-the-net boost with lessons at the One Troia José Mourinho Training Centre.
Some might say combining a sandwich and soup is impractical. Porto says no. Behold the francesinha, a finger-licking, shirt-ruining treat consisting of a ham, sausage and steak sandwich, coated with melted cheese and drenched in a tomato and beer sauce. Each eatery has its own take on it, but you can’t go wrong following Anthony Bourdain to O Afonso, whose iteration is well worth the mess. Further mind-opening happens at the marble counter of Euskalduna Studio; a menu of 10 ‘moments’ and some surprises changes on a whim. You might have amberjack with tomato and sudachi (a Japanese citrus fruit); pithivier with pig head, chicken and suckling pig; and a churro topped with rosemary-infused caviar and white chocolate. If the Editory’s chef has wowed you with his culinary sleight of hand, why not try sister restaurant Auge, which elegantly uses pan-Mediterranean flavours. Or prepare yourself for a surprise tasting menu at their Baixa bolthole’s eatery A Escola By the Artist – we’ll try not to spoil it too much, but you might get the likes of mackerel with kumquat and apple gel or tuna tartare with ginger and wasabi.
Taqueria Invicto has earnt a following for its tacos and tortillas stuffed to the seams with fixings, but their chicken-Milanese sandwich with chipotle crema in sesame bread, churro milkshakes and punch-packing Palomas are also a draw. And the Vogue Café upholds the magazine’s rep, with its black-and-white tessellated tiles and red-velvet booths; bring suitable reading material and tuck into the caramelised lamb bao with spicy onions and cheddar, salmon and pork belly with roasted pumpkin, and oysters from the Aveiro coast.
The bartenders at the Royal Cocktail Club make the kind of drinks one must mention with reverence. Or perhaps in a sultry whisper in the case of, say, the Candlelight, a mix of Johnnie Walker, port, Grand Marnier, bitter chocolate and chilli with a wisp of chocolate smoke. And Bonaparte Downtown is an Irish pub, run by a German and named after a Frenchman, but it is very straightforward when it comes to being a cosy and cool hangout, with antiques littering the walls and cracked-leather banquettes; for drinks, go with something whisky-based, or just neat.
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 quirkily working it hotel amid the Avenida dos Aliados’s neoclassical and Beaux Arts buildings, and unpacked their artful tins of fish and colourful Barcelos rooster statuettes, a full account of their grandly designed break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Editory Boulevard Aliados in Portugal…
Much like a trapeze artist, Porto hideaway the Editory Boulevard Aliados has taken some big swings – their bar is circus-themed, with two vast Sofia Torres murals spread over the walls and big-top-style curtains; the Michelin-garnished chef has brought the carnivalesque to the dinner table; and design studio Ding Dong have chimed in with an avant-garde look. Leopard-print-carpet wall-coverings meet black-and-white-chevron floors, wainscotting is covered in geometric print, terrazzo pops up when you least expect it, and a swoop of sleek oak staircase is carpeted like your nan’s house – retro-fabulously, that is – on the inside. But, when it comes to welcoming guests, it turns more to a magician’s sleight of hand. You’ll notice the subtle touches that make this funhouse feel more like home – lighter hues in the bedrooms, calming botanical prints in the gym, heaters hung from the rooftop pool’s pergola for cooler nights. And, you’re in a fantastic location, between the very grand Avenida dos Aliados and very cool Rua do Almada. So, bring on the ringmaster’s hyperbole because this stupendous, astounding and outrageous stay does its damnedest to live up to it.
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