Se Catedral Porto Hotel – Hilton Tapestry Collection – mixed bag!
16th August 2022 at 07:54NorthernLass
Just returned from 5 very pleasant days in Porto and thought I’d do a short reported on the above as it’s only been open a few months and is currently the only Hilton option in Porto itself. I chose it for the location and because OH and I are both HH gold and so we would get upgrades and free breakfast on 2 rooms.
First, the good. Primarily the staff, who were absolutely lovely and couldn’t do enough for you. The level of service was probably the best I’ve ever had in any hotel – nothing seemed to be too much trouble. The hotel has been renovated recently and the public areas are bright and attractively decorated and furnished with all sorts of quirky bits and pieces. We had a room at the back which was lovely and quiet, with superb air conditioning – and the towels and loo roll were all thick and plentiful! The location is great, literally across the road from the cathedral and a short walk to the Dom Luis bridge which gives access to Vila Nova de Gaia across the river and great views of the city and sunset. Breakfast was served until 10.30/11.00 with hot and cold items which were very tasty (including delicious mini pasteis de nata!)
Secondly, the downright weird! We were upgraded to a Queen superior room, which as a decent size and had a very impressive, enormous TV which rose from a cabinet at the end of the bed when summoned. However, there was hardly anywhere to put clothes – a tiny wardrobe which contained 6 coat hangers (removable!), and 2 small shelves but no drawers. There was an alcove off the main room which would have accommodated more storage options, but whoever designed the room decided to decorate it with mirrors, neon lighting and an old-fashioned carousel horse (OH asked if it was a clothes horse, such a wit!) The consensus in my WhatsApp group was that it was slightly creepy …
There was a Lavazza coffee machine plus 2 pods and one tea bag – with a notice that replacements had to be paid for, not really what I’d expect from a 4-star Hilton property! There was also no kettle and no milk supplied, which made the tea bag somewhat redundant. Toiletries were something cheap decanted into hotel branded bottles (and there was a full-size glass bottle of water which was replaced by housekeeping when empty).
The breakfast area was quite small so not ideal when busy and it took an age for the food to be replenished so if you arrived at the wrong time you either had to wait interminably for refills or just make do with what was left. It seemed completely random as to which days coffee was served at your table and which days you had to queue at the single very slow drinks machine!
Although we had a lovely time overall I think I’d try the IC on a future visit – hopefully outside the crazy August price period and once the extensive works directly outside are complete. The Se Catedral was about 170 euros per night – the current triple points offer posted the day after our return.16th August 2022 at 11:01buchanan101
Thanks – might give it a try next May. Breakfast is not desperately important but with HH Gold it’ll be free.
Not worried about wardrobe space16th August 2022 at 12:04NorthernLass
Despite the slow breakfast refills it was well worth having if, like me, you can’t function until you’ve eaten and had at least 2 cups of coffee!
Our son’s room did actually have a full-sized clothes rail with 2 drawers (we couldn’t be bothered swapping once we were settled in, and we liked the swanky TV 😂). So if you did want more storage space you could probably request it. No carousel horse though!16th August 2022 at 14:08Tracy
@NorthernLass, thanks for the report. We are hoping to return to Porto some time, went for our 20th wedding anniversary nearly 5 years ago now…we stayed at the IC using a 241 and booked the room just below the duplex and were indeed upgraded to the duplex. Location was fab and it was a very nice stay…would consider Hilton next time though..16th August 2022 at 14:34NorthernLass
Hi @Tracy, the entire square outside the IC is a building site just now as they are constructing a new metro stop!16th August 2022 at 14:40Tracy
@NorthernLass, the addition of the metro stop makes the IC even more attractive lol16th August 2022 at 15:29Michael C
Thanks for the write-up, Anna – hope trip was great as a whole!16th August 2022 at 18:22Guernsey Globetrotter
@NorthernLass I asked this question in general chat but of course it should be here to preserve the information for future reference – what is the level of disruption like around the IC in Porto at the moment with the construction work? We are planning on spending four nights there mid-September but I am getting cold feet about the noise levels! Unfortunately there may be limited alternatives now as many hotels are not available on our dates but it would be good to be prepared – I guess this shows the benefit of having a plan B and booking it on a reward or other type of refundable rate 😒16th August 2022 at 18:36Guernsey Globetrotter
PS please do also post any activities recommendations!16th August 2022 at 19:29NorthernLass
Thanks for the write-up, Anna – hope trip was great as a whole!
Thanks, Michael, I really liked Porto, I found it historic but unpretentious and very reminiscent of towns like Vigo and Pontevedra further north. Now planning a road trip taking in the Douro Valley, Braga and then on to Galicia to catch up with family. We found a marvellous wine called Quinta da Romaneiro but sadly there was only a 44 euro bottle at the airport! There were some decent aged tawny ports though and there was an offer on for 2 for 39 euros so our parents will be happy.
It was very busy being August and there were ridiculously long queues for some of the attractions. My best tip would be to pay 3 euros to go in the the Sacred Art and Archaeology museum one level down from the cathedral – this includes access to the chapel which has double towers which you can climb for fantastic views of the city with no queues or crowds (or actually anyone else when we were there!) Also some interesting medieval icons if you like that kind of thing.
The 50-minute 6 bridges cruise is nice if you’re pushed for time – you need to book a couple of days ahead in peak season and turn up early to get your ticket printed and a good place in the queue for the best seats on the boat.
Great views of the sunset can be had from the Dom Luis bridge and the Serra do Pilar convent on the other side of the river.
We had to take the teenager into account when dining but there’s a huge range of eating options. We ate twice at a place called Santo which was a mixture of Brazilian and Italian and catered for varied tastes. The wine list was excellent and extensive – mostly Portuguese. A glass of really good red was 6,50 euros! I did also try a Francesinha and a Porto tonic lol. The cake shops were amazing – there was one near the hotel called Cremosi which we visited each day and worked our way through the menu! One evening we just went to the Froiz supermarket and bought lovely local ham, cheese and crusty rolls and ate them with a bottle of Cabeca de Toiro watching the sun go down. There are literally hundreds of places to eat suiting all tastes and budgets though. Coffee and cake was 6 euros for 2 people – all the prices were the most reasonable I’ve seen in a very long time.
It’s very hilly, so anyone with mobility problems might want to check transport options (we didn’t get chance to go on the funicular but it looked like fun – the top entrance is also quite near the Hilton and it goes all the way down to river level). Many places do close for lunch in true Iberian fashion so that needs to be factored in to any plans.
Taxis to/from the airport were about 30 euros and took about 30 minutes. The queue for security was long but very fast-moving. There’s a decent selection of wines and gifts but prices weren’t much different from anywhere else. The airport building is very modern (apparently it has won design prizes and is definitely more like LHR T5 than MAN!) with several food outlets and plenty of seating.
Next time I think we’d go in June which is a gorgeous month in northern Iberia but without the summer crowds. Obviously we packed quite a lot into 5 days so feel free to ask any specific questions.16th August 2022 at 19:48Rui N.16th August 2022 at 20:04NorthernLass
@GG – it’s a complete eyesore, basically in your face as soon as you step out of the hotel (we had a peek inside the lobby for future reference). No way would we pay the IC prices at the moment. And of course very noisy, though there didn’t seem to be any work being undertaken on Saturday or Sunday, which might explain why it’s taking so long! There are numerous other nice-looking hotels – the Vincci just across the river looked very nice and also had a small outdoor pool which I would have loved to have taken a dip in! Now we know how easy it is to get from Gaia we’d definitely consider staying on that side as prices seem considerably lower.16th August 2022 at 20:31NorthernLass
Just for clarity the Vincci we saw was the Ponte de Ferro – it looks to be so new it hasn’t even made it on to Google Maps yet! I think it’s a series of restored warehouses; it’s just next to the Dom Luis bridge on the Gaia side, looks gorgeous on its website. It sort of hangs over the river (including the pool), so the views must be awesome!16th August 2022 at 22:11Guernsey Globetrotter
Thanks @NorthernLass – really helpful 👍17th August 2022 at 07:38Guernsey Globetrotter
PS Also a lovely write-up which will be a great starting point for our exploration of the city, no matter where we end up staying 😎14th September 2022 at 18:34DorsetFlyer
Just staying here. So will report back and see if anything has changed since Anna’s stay earlier in the year.
So far there is no change on the in-room coffee policy. 2 pods per stay and then 1€ per extra pod after that!14th September 2022 at 20:17NorthernLass
Have you got a carousel horse?!14th September 2022 at 21:24DorsetFlyer
No carousel horse! But we do have a slightly odd shaped triangular room. You have to get slimmer as you walk through the room to get past the bed.
I have to say I am really enjoying the bespoke and individual vibe.
I suspect no room or suite is the same in shape or decoration.
As you said, Anna, service and staff are impeccable and super happy to help.
Porto itself is amazing – brilliant foody restaurants with small plates. Highly recommend a trip here and Se Catedral Hotel is in an excellent location for everything.
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