Review: how is the InterContinental Porto hotel?

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This is our review of the InterContinental Porto hotel.

Readers with good memories (we’re talking 10th February here!) will remember a review of my £5 Ryanair flight to Porto.  I promised to do a review of the InterContinental Porto as well, but life got in the way.  Here, at last, it is.

I paid for this trip myself and the hotel did not know I would be reviewing it.

IHG’s InterContinental chain has been opening some impressive hotels in secondary European cities in recent years.  Situated in converted historic buildings, the majority represent the first true luxury hotel in those cities.  Take a quick look at the websites for InterContinental Lyon, InterContinental Marseilles and InterContinental Bordeaux (InterContinental Bordeaux review here) for example.  InterContinental Porto is another one for the list.

You can learn more on the InterContinental Porto website here.

InterContinental Porto hotel review

Porto has been having a bit of a ‘moment’ in recent years and tourist numbers have risen sharply.  Having spent two nights there, I can see why.  It is a lovely city with an attractive waterfront and plenty of options to eat and drink.  It also has a modern airport with a metro connection into the city.  It is perfectly sized for a weekend break, or you can take a longer trip and explore the surrounding countryside and the local port houses.

I used a few of my tourist photos of Porto in this article on BA’s February sale.

One warning though: this is an incredibly hilly city.  The only flat area is the main square where the hotel sits.  Most of the rest of the city centre is on steep slopes.  You should think twice about coming if you are not good on your feet or will be pushing a buggy.  Even older children may easily become tired.  It’s like a bigger version of Santorini (or Robin Hood’s Bay for our Yorkshire readers!).

InterContinental Porto hotel review

Where is InterContinental Porto?

In terms of position, you can’t go wrong with (to give its full name) InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas.

Set in a restored palace, albeit one more recently used as offices, it sits at one end of Liberdade Square.  São Bento railway station is literally just around the corner (not that you are likely to use it) as is São Bento metro station.  Directly behind the hotel, the roads slope downwards sharply on the way down to the river.

From the airport, hop on the metro and change at Trindade for the two stops to São Bento.

Here is a PR shot of the hotel entrance:

InterContinental Porto hotel review

To the left you see a corridor heading down to the formal restaurant.  There are also a couple of boutiques.  Up a couple of steps you have a larger lobby area:

InterContinental Porto hotel review

and the lovely bar:

InterContinental Porto hotel review

Check in was interesting.  I had booked a ‘Junior Suite with View’ for €247.  As a member of the InterContinental Ambassador programme, I am guaranteed an upgrade.  However, the hotel had no one-level upgrades available and either could not or did not want to upgrade me further.  I was offered a ‘Duplex Suite’ but this is actually cheaper than a ‘Junior Suite with View’, and has no view.  The staff recommended I didn’t take it!

Under the new InterContinental Ambassador rules, the hotel has to give me 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points if it cannot upgrade me.  As I was on my own and did not plan to be in the hotel much, I decided to accept this.  I value the points at £40 so it was effectively an additional 10% back on what I paid for the two nights.

The points posted promptly – before I checked out – but did not count towards status.

My junior suite at InterContinental Porto

The junior suites are described as being 37 square metres.  I might have been marginally short changed on this, although it could just have felt small because there was too much furniture in the room.

Here are two shots of the room.  These are hotel pictures.  I have used them because they are of my exact room (!) and they are better than my photos.  The only difference is that the room was nowhere near as light as these pictures show it.

InterContinental Porto hotel review

and

InterContinental Porto hotel review

As you can just about see, there is a small coffee machine on the table to the right.  Whilst this was a ‘genuine’ Nespresso, it was one of the cheaper ‘plasticky’ machines – I would personally have put a higher quality one into a suite.  There was also a kettle, tea etc plus a minibar.

The desk overlooks Liberdade Square, although the works taking place on the statue ruined it a bit.  There is also a big McDonald’s out of shot to the right which doesn’t help the atmosphere either, although it is handy for a quick snack!

InterContinental Porto hotel review

The bathroom was a good size and had a bath as well as a stand-alone shower.  There was only one sink, although obviously that didn’t bother me.  Toiletries were the Anne Semonin brand which regular InterContinental visitors will have seen elsewhere.  The room was well stocked with mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste and a shaving kit, amongst other goodies.

InterContinental Porto hotel review

Eating at InterContinental Porto

This review is going to be weak on food coverage, I’m afraid.  I didn’t visit the Astoria Restaurant on the ground floor, which specialises in Mediterranean and Portuguese cuisine (PR photo):

InterContinental Porto hotel review

The only evening meal I had in the hotel was a snack in the bar on my first night.

Breakfast is served in a dedicated conservatory off the lobby:

InterContinental Porto hotel review

The buffet is not the biggest you have ever seen but covers all the bases.  However, the cost includes a range of cooked items: eggs (fried, poached, boiled, florentine, benedict, omelette), waffles, pancakes and porridge.  The Eggs Benedict came with bacon and was a little odd, to be honest!

InterContinental Porto hotel review

I should also mention that the hotel has a spa (no pool) which I didn’t visit.

Conclusion

InterContinental Porto is a lovely hotel in a great location.  I think you need to choose your room carefully, since they are not huge, and if you want a lot of space then you will need a full suite.

Reward nights cost 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night.  My valuation of an IHG point is 0.4p so rewards will look decent value if cash rates for standard rooms are €250 or more, which is often the case.

For a long stay, you might find the limited facilities (no pool, one bar, one restaurant) to be a bit restrictive, but for a short break it works well due to its position and the overall quality of the place.  I didn’t see anywhere else during my three days in the city which looked more interesting.  If you want to be a little further out of town there are well regarded resorts including Six Senses Douro Valley (now part of IHG as well, of course) and across the river, technically still in Porto, is The Yeatman.

Get a special deal via our hotel booking partner

Our hotel booking partner, Emyr Thomas of Bon Vivant, can get you a special deal at InterContinental Porto.  If you make a booking via him at Best Flexible Rate, you will receive:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Buffet breakfast daily for two guests per bedroom in the hotel restaurant
  • A complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two people, once during stay, excluding beverages, taxes and gratuities in hotel restaurant
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
…… which is a decent package, especially given how smart the restaurant looked.  He can also get you a similar deal on Six Senses Douro and The Yeatman.  Contact Emyr via the form on this page of Head for Points.  There are no booking fees and you pay at check-out as usual.
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Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    It’s a great hotel in a great city (if you love food, and we do). We are meant to be returning in August for a relaxing week trip with our son here and in the Douro Valley, but I don’t see it happening…

  2. Geoggy says:

    No IC Club lounge?

    • Steve-B says:

      Correct – no club lounge. It is a lovely hotel though and well worth a visit.

  3. GOONFACE says:

    If anyone has a booking for the IC Porto between now and start of June, it has been closed by the government but they haven’t cancelled reservations! If you try to book, the only dates that rooms can be booked from is in early June.

  4. Toppcat says:

    Porto’s a great city – ideal for a weekend of pottering around with really good food and wine. IC will be a nice addition – there aren’t a lot of good points options. I walked around The Yeatman while I was there (it’s in amongst the port houses) and oddly it felt cheaply done – I can’t quite put my finger on why. I ended up in Armazém Luxury Housing, which was a great little place – thoroughly recommended.

    • Can’t speak to your experience of walking around but we spent a couple of nights in the Yeatman, having stayed a few nights in the IC just prior to that, and we found the Yeatman to be absolutely fantastic. Especially if you’re into wine. STUNNING view of the river valley and city from our room terrace, great place to soak up the atmosphere. Lovely (2 Michelin star) restaurant. Definitely worth the extra money over the IC in my view, although I’d still recommend the IC as ideal for first timers to Porto.

      • Toppcat says:

        Don’t disagree re: the views or the restaurant! It’s also a great location for the port houses. I just didn’t like the finish in the public spaces, I guess.

        • Fair enough. Rooms were lovely, decent size and had a pretty big terrace of our own to sunbathe on. Each wing had a different theme, and each room had different decor with local books, art etc. A lot of it wine themed of course! Even the swimming pool was shaped like a wine decanter 😂

  5. Robert says:

    One of the nicer ICs I’ve stayed in. We were there as a family a coupe of years ago, booked through FHR, and I’m Spire AMB. Check in was a nice experience while seated. Booked two standard interconnecting rooms, and were upgraded to a Junior suite (same as yours Rob) with an adjoining Executive room, both facing Palacio das Cardosas, and location as mentioned really excellent.

    We found breakfast to be excellent mostly the cooked items which were not only tasty but really nicely presented. On our first morning the main breakfast room was full and so they had set yo

  6. Robert says:

    Ops, accidentally posted that before finishing (and no edit option here…). So breakfast was set up fr us in the library with everything available, and a totally private dining experience which was great.

    We all had dinner one evening at the Astoria restaurant (included in our FHR benefit), and found it excellent, food and service wise. We were 4 adults, and 6 kids and they were incredibly accommodating with the kids (anything they fancied that wasn’t on the menu wasn’t an issue…).

    Generally we found the service to be great, including the concierge team who were really friendly, helpful and accommodating.

    We will definitely go back when we next visit Porto (which we loved by the way…).

  7. We got a Duplex room when we stayed in Porto last year. These rooms are on a high floor on a split level, with stairs up to the bedroom and bathroom, but the downstairs section looks just like your suite lounge. Perfectly OK but no view from the windows due to the hotel parapet outside.

    We had a great time, only missing out on the “Harry Potter” bookshop (look it up!) which had already had a 50 person queue at 9am.

    • Oddly I’d never heard of that until I had lunch with Tim and Nick from Points To Be Made who lives in Porto and they told me about it. It is a short walk from the hotel, 5-7 minutes max. There was no queue (it was early evening) but the idea of paying €10 to go into a bookshop – albeit refundable against a purchase – was a bit weird!

      (For the benefit of other readers, JK Rowling apparently got the inspiration for Harry Potter from a gothic-style bookshop in central Porto.)

  8. Peter Ould says:

    I stayed here about a year ago. Fantastic friendly staff. You can stroll down to the river for dinner and then get an Uber back for next to nothing.

    I was upgraded to the Duplex (!!!!!) which was actually really useful for working with my colleague in the morning (he was downstairs, I was upstairs). Given that the view is a bit “mmmmm” anyway I rather enjoyed the two level room!

  9. IIRC not all suites are eligible for upgrade under the Ambassador rules. Worth digging out the list if you’re booking a suite (and care which type of suite you’re in).

  10. We had a great stay at the Hotel Porto Ribeira-Porto. Just up from the waterfront in an converted medieval warehouse with exposed historical ruins in the lower areas.

  11. Rui N. says:

    “and across the river, technically still in Porto, is The Yeatman.”

    Nope 🙂 across the River is Vila Nova de Gaia (commonly know only has Gaia), which is a different city.

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