The lowdown Built majestically into the south bank of the Douro Valley, amongst famous wine houses and breathtaking panoramic views over Portugal’s idyllic second city of Oporto, The Yeatman Hotel is, without doubt, a sight to behold. The city, which gave its name to everyone’s favourite Christmas drink, Port, has welcomed British wine merchants for over three centuries and The Yeatman pays testament to this in every feasible way. Wine is celebrated in each nook and cranny, from maps of Portugal’s wine regions adorning corridor walls, to each of the hotel’s 82 rooms playing homage to The Yeatman’s 82 wine partners, and the 82 wines available by the glass in the Michelin-starred restaurant. There’s even a bed in one of the suites fashioned out of an enormous wine barrel.
The rooms Whether you’re staying in one of the hotel’s generously proportioned rooms or a magnificent suite (The Bacchus, left, would challenge the dimensions of most London flats - includes two plasma screen TVs, a bath tub and a revolving bed which allows you to choose between a view of the rising sun in the morning or the television), The Yeatman’s spectacular views over Oporto can be seen from your private balcony, from your bed and from your bath. Décor is fresh European meets British sensibility, with the most comfortable beds and glorious Egyptian cotton you will ever sleep in, and a bathroom that was truly made for getting ready in (mirrors all around ensure no outfit faux-pas can escape your attention).
Eating and drinking Do not miss eating in the Michelin-starred restaurant. With a wide selection of dishes, fresh fish, regional specialties, as well as classic British options, you will be spoiled for choice. Vegetarians aren’t overlooked either, with the creamiest mushroom risotto ever. The restaurant’s enormous selection of both regional and world wines can be tried and matched to your dishes. For an aperitif, head to Dick’s bar for iced wine and port cocktails whilst being serenaded by local jazz bands, or put your feet up in the library, light up a Portuguese cigar, and recline on a plush leather sofa for the ultimate smoking club ambience. Breakfast was a personal favourite - fresh fruit platters, miniature pastry selections, smoked salmon, cheese boards, marmalades, every type of bread imaginable…the list goes on. Wash it all down with a glass of champagne and head to the spa to digest.
The spa With ten therapy rooms, two infinity pools, a Roman bath, shower experience and the obligatory steam-room and saunas, the Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa will undoubtedly be where you spend the majority of your time at The Yeatman. The wine theme continues down to the treatments, so if you’re a grape enthusiast, the Merlot Wrap using honey and grape seed scrub and Barrel Bath immersions are a must. The full body massage is without doubt the most relaxing and stress-relieving treatment you will experience. Go for the peppermint oil, if you’re prone to serious knots. Treatment rooms all receive natural light, are warm and inviting, and beds are generously wide.
Out and about The World Heritage old town of Oporto is both picturesque and lively, boasting vibrant street life, boutiques, and is also home to Livraria Lello (Rua das Carmelitas 144), one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops. With a magnificent mahogany and scarlet-carpeted staircase running through its centre, and the nostalgic musk of old books as tourists leaf through, this is the bookshop which inspired none other than JK Rowling when she envisioned Harry Potter, during her time as a resident of the old town. Definitely worth a visit.
Getting there TAP Portugal (call 0845 601 0932 or visit flytap.com) flies from Gatwick to Oporto 14 times a week, with return fares starting at £114 including all taxes and surcharges.
The details The Yeatman, Rua Choupelo, Santa Marinha, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia (tel: 00 351 220 133 100; visit theyeatman.com). Rooms from 154 euros based on two sharing; Bacchus suite from 890 euros. All room rates are inclusive of all taxes and free access to the swimming pool and gym.
By Harriet Hall