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. David S says:

    We stayed in the Pestana Brasileira hotel last September. Another really nice hotel in a converted building (a coffee exchange) and not far from the main square. Again, not big on the full range of facilities and wonder if this is a Porto thing.

  2. Diydegsy says:

    We loved this hotel. There were 3 of us and we were upgraded to a duplex suite which was perfect as our teenage daughter was able to sleep downstairs and had her own bathroom while we were upstairs and had the same so it made for a good stay. The staff were lovely, couldn’t have gone out of their way any more to make recommendations etc. They booked a tapas restaurant for us which Genghis had recommended and it was fully booked but they got us in, well worth it. Would go back in a heartbeat. They also booked us into a Graham’s port tour which was also very good as you can’t just turn up and a “tuk tuk” ride which took in all the sites including the Harry Potter book shop!!

  3. Derek Broughton says:

    We love Porto, and did a weekend trip just before everything kicked off across Europe. We don’t do hotels—we like AirBNBs—but I can attest that the location is great and … Porto is very hilly! This may be what finally did in my wife’s hip. We walked while we were there, but she hasn’t walked much since.

    If you’re doing a weekender, stop at the Tourism office in the airport and buy a 3-day transit pass on your way in. Even if you’re not there 72 hours it’s well worth the convenience, and you won’t get anywhere in the city centre faster by taxi! We were there Thursday to Sunday morning. If you leave early on Sunday, be warned that the Metro starts up late…

  4. Nick_C says:

    When did Brits drop the O from Oporto?

    Will people be having weekends in Lisboa soon?

  5. Craig Vassie says:

    This is a great hotel in a good location. We’ve stayed here a number of times. The staff make the hotel probably the best small Intercontinental in Europe, and a lovely destination for a long weekend. All the tourist circular buses leave from the main square in front of the hotel. There’s a stop for the old “electrico” tram 20 metres from the hotel entrance, and the 500 coastal bus up to Matosinhos leaves from the stop around the corner opposite Sao Bento station, from where you can take a train up the Douro to Pinhao. We found that restaurants in the tourist areas in Porto weren’t that wonderful – the constant supply of punters makes them lazy perhaps! Instead we would head up the coast on the 500 bus. There’s the Restaurant Du Mole halfway to Matosinhos, or the Marisqueira De Matoshinos in the town itself. The latter is one of the best seafood restaurants I’ve ever been in. We were the only tourists there! Have fun!

    • Very helpful, thanks Craig.

    • Craig, You beat me to it, the trip up the Duoro is amazing and is (I believe) a world heritage railway journey..

      Sao Bento station is worth a visit for itself (amazing tiles) as is the McDonald’s just to see its art deco interior.

      The Ode restaurant down by the quay (if you can find it) does a fabulous tasting menu with wines (£££ but worth every penny!)

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Things I never thought I’d read on HfP … McDonalds is worth a special visit, especially for its architectural elegance
        … and that’s what makes the site, and its commenters, awesome :D.

    • Andreas says:

      +1 for Matosinhos. We went to a small family run restaurant called Salta o Muro and it was great. Fresh fish and seafood dishes, everything was delicious.

  6. Geoff Reed says:

    Rob
    I good review but you should perhaps have taken the Duplex Suite. As a previous reader has mentioned the accommodation is great – a nice lounge area with a bathroom off downstairs then upstairs a decent bedroom with a desk area and another bathroom. Space not massive but adequate. There is no view from the downstairs but there is upstairs – looking out over the whole city. The staff are great and in the restaurant we had the best meal we had in Oporto.

    • Craig Vassie says:

      Duplex suites are great but avoid if you have young kids. Glass stairs with open risers and no handrail make them dangerous for the kids….
      Top floor master bed shower is fine if you’re a midget otherwise you bang your head on the sloping mansard roof. There is a ground floor shower too.
      Porto is definitely one of the top cities in Europe for a weekend break. If you want to go up the Douro on the water there are a number of local companies that do superb cheap trips. We took a two day trip with BarcoDouro that was around €200pp including all meals and wine, a dinner B&B overnight in a 4* hotel near Pinhao, and the train ticket back to Sao Bento.

  7. Samuel says:

    The McDonalds there is one of the most beautiful in the world, a converted coffee place (I think cafe imperial) that retains lots of historic elements. An absolute gem to see. Also: although McDonalds usually uses disposable cups for coffee, due tio the strong coffeeculture in Portugal, they are using porcelain there,

  8. AndyGWP says:

    Went to Porto for the European Championships last summer…. lovely city, with reasonably priced food and drink, and some amazing friendly locals.

    Even though it was marred slightly by the behaviour of other visitors during that time frame, it’s a great destination for a city break

    Don’t forget to try a francesinha if you go:
    https://www.tasteporto.com/top-francesinhas-in-porto/

  9. Lady London says:

    Was this the hotel you turned up at with only your kid’s Scooby Doo backpack as your entire luggage, Rob? 🙂

  10. Michael Keneally says:

    yeah, the scooby back pack, I had to tell all my mates about that one.

  11. John O’Sullivan says:

    Try to get there for the Festival of St Juan (June), the whole place celebrates and it is one huge party. Look it up, it was wonderful. The time we went Portugal’s favourite Rock Band played in the Square opposite from 1am to 3am.

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