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For a city trip within Europe, I normally do not opt for a luxury hotel. After all, most of the day I am out exploring the city, spending little time in the hotel. For a recent visit to Porto though, I did choose a five-star hotel: the Intercontinental Porto Palacio das Cardosas.
Intercontinental Hotels was running a great third-night free (based on the best flexible rate) offer at many of their properties as part of their Luxury&Lifestyle program. Furthermore, the usual Luxury benefits such as breakfast for two, upgrade if available, early check-in/late check-out and a hotel credit were offered.
Since my regular IHG Rewards Platinum status is useless at Intercontinental properties, these benefits together with the 3-for-2 rate constituted great value. Through a travel adviser, we booked a standard twin room for three nights at the Intercontinental Porto.
Intercontinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas
A few days before arrival, I noticed in the app that our room was already upgraded to a Twin Executive room. Very much appreciated! The hotel also sent an email a couple of days before our stay, enquiring about any special requests and informing us about the local COVID-regulations.
After a pleasant flight with KLM from Amsterdam, we took an Uber to the hotel. Without any traffic, the ride from the airport takes about 20 minutes and costs 15-20€. The location of the hotel is truly fantastic at one end of the Praça de Liberdade – one of Porto’s main squares. On the opposite side of the square is the city hall.
The Intercontinental is located in a renovated palace from the 18th century. Considering the grand building, the entrance was quite modest. The hotel has about 100 rooms and suites.
Right after the entrance is the concierge desk. On the right is the Cardosas bar and after that the reception. We were immediately assisted by a friendly associate. Despite the fact we arrived more than three hours before standard check-in time, our request for early check-in was granted without a hitch. The associate explained the benefits of our rate and then accompanied us to the elevator.
We were assigned a room on the second floor of the hotel. An added bonus of the upgrade was that Executive rooms have a view of the square. The windows did open and from the tiny balcony you could take in the prime location. Standard rooms are located on the backside of the hotel and overlook an interior square.
After entering the room, there was closet space on the left and straight on was the spacious bathroom.
This was fitted with a single sink, a tub-shower combination and a separate toilet. Unfortunately, there was no walk-in shower. The water pressure in the bathtub was also quite weak.
To the left of the bathroom was the bedroom with two comfortable beds, a seat and a desk. This part of the room was not especially spacious, but the nooks provided enough space to store a suitcase.
The minibar setup also featured a Nespresso. Two bottles of water were provided and later in the afternoon, a box of pastel de nata was delivered.
Despite the fact that the Intercontinental has a classic design, everything was in excellent condition – the interior did not feel outdated. This also holds true for the corridors and public spaces, which were decorated with pictures of the previous palace.
The hotel has a small bar in the lobby with a separate street entrance. Other than that, the hotel has few facilities. There is a modest gym and some treatment rooms for the spa. The hotel does not have a pool, business centre, etc.
The hotel’s only restaurant, Astoria, is opposite the reception. Because of the low occupancy, breakfast was served à la carte instead of as a buffet. After sitting down, the staff brought yoghurt, a bread basket, fruit and cold cuts. Additionally, you can order items from the menu. The quality of the breakfast was excellent and the service was friendly and attentive. The hotel seemed very quiet since usually only 1 or 2 other tables were occupied when we had breakfast.
As part of our Luxury&Lifestyle booking, we had a hotel credit. In this hotel, that was a €45 allowance per person for lunch or dinner. Again, the food quality and service were very good. After finishing dinner, it turned out we were the only guests that evening. Visitor numbers have not recovered sufficiently yet, unfortunately for the hotel.
As mentioned, the location of the Intercontinental Porto is excellent. The hotel is centrally located in the city with the most important sights within walking distance. The touristic centre of Porto is quite compact. Around the corner are the train and metro station São Bento and one of the main high streets. To get to the Torre and Igreja dos Clerigos, you just walk down the street a couple of minutes. The riverfront, where you can get a great view of the Ponte Luis bridge, is about a 10-minute stroll away. Do keep in mind that Porto has quite some elevation differences.
The Intercontinental Porto Palacio das Cardosas is an excellent hotel. The rooms have a nice design, the staff are very friendly and the food was of high quality. The location is a highlight, making the hotel an excellent base for a visit to the city.
The hotel has few facilities, but for a city trip that is often not a big deal.
The nice rate in combination with the Luxury&Lifestyle benefits yielded a terrific value. This does seem to be an effect of the low visitor numbers to the city. Once tourism recovers, rates will no doubt get back to the usual levels for European luxury hotels.
This review was first published on InsideFlyer.nl