Three Wine Themed Douro Hotels
Exploring the wines of the Douro Valley in Portugal should be on the wish list for all wine lovers. And, there are a number of wonderful options if you want to experience the wine harvest in Northern Portugal for yourself. We’ve picked three of the best hotels for you and travelled to the Douro Valley to check them all out.
The Monverde Wine Experience Hotel nestles in the green countryside of the Quinta da Lixa vineyards near Amarante, about an hour from Porto. With striking modern architecture, this hotel was opened just two years ago in May 2015 but blends into the traditional landscape of rolling hills and vineyards as if it has always been there. Designed by architect Fernando Coelho to be carbon neutral the buildings are made of natural materials with a large proportion of the stone used in the current building coming from the walls and old houses on the property. The solar panels and green roofs are all part of this eco-friendly hotel. The interior design by Paulo Lobo is influenced by Scandinavian minimalism.
The main building houses the restaurant and bar have been designed to be spacious and light with its many windows overlooking the rows of vines. At the heart of this building, the impressive centrepiece hangs; 366 faces made of cedar attached to the ceiling, glowing in the light. The guest rooms are based in buildings a short walk from the central building. The rooms are very comfortable and use mirrors extensively to create an impression of light and space, with large windows looking out over the vineyards.
The concept behind the Monverde Wine Experience Hotel is to give the visitor the opportunity to taste the many wines produced in Portugal as well as getting involved in the cycle of producing wine throughout the year. The bar is also stocked with a good range of spirits including locally produced brandy.
Our group arrived at the hotel as the sun was setting over the hills. Dinner was a menu created especially for us by the chef Carlos Silvo with each course accompanied by a glass of wine from the Quinta da Lixa range, the local vineyard. We finished with a glass of Morgado da Vila, a fifty-year-old brandy, on the terrace under the stars.
The morning of our departure was the start of the grape harvest and local pickers were out early in the vineyards filling trays with ripe green grapes to be sent to the local winery.
From Monverde we travelled for an hour and a half to Quinta da Pacheca, one of the largest and best-known vineyards of the Douro region. The vineyard hosts daily tours of the vineyards with wine and port tasting, as well as cookery classes. The vast vineyards stretch out in all directions. The harvesting of the grapes was well underway and we joined in picking bunches of juicy red grapes wearing the traditional straw hat and tobacconist scarf of the picker. The fermentation here is done in the traditional manner with vast troughs of grapes being trodden by foot to release the juices.
We had a hearty lunch on the terrace accompanied by wines from the vineyard, followed by a port tasting with expert insights from our guide on the trip.
We stayed overnight at the Quinta da Pacheca Wine Hotel which has 15 cosy rooms and a restaurant with dramatic views over the surrounding area. The rooms are traditionally furnished with bathrooms that have a bath, very welcome after picking grapes in the heat. The original buildings of the family estate have been added to with the new additions complimenting the old. It was very quiet and peaceful overnight before the bustle of the winemaking recommenced the following day.
A short drive from the Quinta da Pacheca is the Six Senses Douro Valley Hotel, a perfect retreat. This impressive, luxury hotel set in 19 acres is perched on the hillside above the Douro river with stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Douro river itself. At the centre of the hotel is the old manor house which was incorporated into the hotel when it was converted in 2007. From the hotel terrace, which runs around the front and side of the hotel you can see the vineyards, the ever-present hills and the organic gardens where produce is grown for the hotel restaurant and workshops run at the hotel.
As part of the philosophy of the Six Senses group (based in Asia) the hotel offers an array of activities over and above the usual swimming pools and spas found in luxury hotels the world over. These include wine tasting experiences, an outdoor cinema, workshops where you can learn about pickling fruit and vegetables and drying herbs as well as the opportunity to prepare beauty products from natural ingredients.
Within the hotel is the wine library, a cosy space lined with wine storage units keeping the wine at the perfect temperature. Stocked with a good selection of locally produced vintage wines it is in the wine library that the wine tastings are held. The hotel offers a number of different dining options including the main dining room, the open kitchen where the breakfast buffet is served, a vegetarian restaurant and a barbeque restaurant, both the latter are situated in the grounds close to the organic garden.
The Douro has wine tourism options to suit all palates and all purses. So, if you are thinking of visiting for yourself, why not pin this post for later.
We were guests of Porto and Northern Portugal Tourism Board
TAP Portugal flies direct from London Gatwick to Porto 13 times a week, prices start at £42 one way including all taxes and surcharges.
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