City centre hotels tend to come in two varieties; either bland international brands or faded dames from times gone by reinvigorated into trendy boutique properties. Fortunately, Hotel Infante Sagres in Porto’s centre is the latter. Not just reinvigorated but positively reincarnated into something even better than it was in its heyday.
Just a few minutes’ walk from bustling Rua Santa Catarina, and literally around the corner to Lello & Irmão, the bookshop immortalised by Harry Potter, the hotel has recently reopened after many months of careful renovation.
The original interiors of this listed building, originally created in 1951 by legendary philanthropist Delfim Ferreira and previously lost in time, have been lovingly brought back to life. The original ornate ironwork, carved wood and intricate stained glass has been lovingly restored by master craftsmen while equally talented interior designers have managed to blend in a contemporary feel to complement the extravagant workmanship.
Nowhere is this more evident for me than in the Vogue Café and Bar, a partnership with Condé Nast International destined to turn this chic venue into a meeting place for Porto’s style set.
Infante Sagres has 75 rooms and 10 suites, and in keeping with boutique properties, the rooms are far from spacious. That said, they are beautifully appointed. King and queen beds, luxurious linens, natural wood and marble finishes and soft pastel colours. They are luxuriously cosy.
Downstairs a timeless elegance abounds, stunning lounges set around a gloriously long chandelier that transcends two floors. Perhaps though for me, the elevator is the star of the show; a vintage specimen that has an external floor dial and contains its original velvety seat.
Wherever you look there are sublime touches and attention to detail. Not so surprising when you have owners whose family ties stretch back to the origins of Porto’s Port wine heritage. The Fladgate Partnership is the family-run group behind the legendary Port houses of Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft and has almost single-handedly rejuvenated Porto as a tourist destination.
It owns two more luxury hotels – the stunning 5 star Yeatman across the river in Gaia and the beautifully rustic Vintage House up among the vineyards of the Douro Valley. It also runs Porto’s only river taxi service and is currently constructing The World of Wine, transforming Porto’s historic Port wine warehouses into a €100 million visitor attraction that will provide two new museums, a wine school, numerous retail outlets and restaurants.
Suffice to say then, the drinks on offer in the Vogue Café are not too shabby and the all-day food is stylishly in keeping with the fashion theme. Well balanced organic and locally-sourced products including oysters, tempura, soba noodles, sea bass and of course Portuguese staple bacalhau.
There is no doubting Porto’s crown jewel is its beautiful riverfront, it’s colourful houses and maze of twisty medieval streets a magnet for bars and restaurants. Hotel Infante Sagres is the perfect base to explore the historic river area and the rest of Portugal’s second city. After all, staying at a hotel named after Henry the Navigator, Portugal’s famed discoverer, it wouldn’t do to avoid a bit of your own discovering now would it?
Tell me more about Hotel Infante Sagres
Hotel Infante Sagres, Praça D. Filipa de Lencastre 62, 4050-259 Porto, Portugal
Rooms at Infante Sagres cost from €215 a night including breakfast.