Today (January 1, 2020): Review of InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas (Portugal).
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: InterContinental Porto
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas offers a privileged location right in the heart of the city of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Only steps away from the city’s main attractions, the hotel inherits the elegance and history of an iconic 18th-century palace. Inside the hotel, guests can relax in the wellness center, have a drink in the intimate library bar, or enjoy a culinary journey at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. The hotel features 105 spacious rooms, including 16 executive suites, characterized by high ceilings and a classic style of great warmth.
InterContinental Porto features in my top 10 list of the best hotels & resorts in Portugal.
Have you ever stayed at InterContinenta Porto? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- InterContinental Porto enjoys a superb location in Porto’s historic center, sitting on one side of the Praça da Liberdade, the main city square. The hotel overlooks the imposing Avenida dos Aliados and is within walking distance from all major cultural highlights of Porto such as the Bolhão Market, Ribeira District or the Clérigos Church the Palacio das Cardosas. The São Bento train station is just next to the hotel and the iconic double-deck Luís I Bridge over the River Douro is a ten minute walk. The lively square on which the hotel is located is a social hub for locals and tourists alike well into the night, but soundproofed windows block out most noise.
- The hotel is housed in a newly renovated palace. The building was originally a monastery early in the 15th century until 1834 when all monasteries were closed down in Portugal and clergymen expelled. It was then converted into a private palace by a wealthy businessman Manuel Cardoso dos Santos, who made his fortune in the then Portuguese colony of Brazil. Unfortunately Cardoso died soon after he purchased the property, and his wife and three daughters inherited the building. After an extensive restoration, the property opened as the InterContinental Porto two hundred years later in 2011, and became an emblem of rehabilitation of downtown Porto.
- The former monastery and palace was renovated to its former glory by Alex Kravetz, the renowned Russian architect and interior designer behind London’s Dorchester Hotel. Kravetz preserved the monumental neoclassical facade of the building, remaining true to the monks’ original construction plans. On the inside, behind the revolving entrance door, the hotel is characterized by a beautiful Portuguese interior. This is particularly true for the hotel’s grand foyer, which has been designed to impress, with ornately patterned marble floors, Swarovski chandeliers, impressive flower decorations, and decorative plaster moldings on the high ceiling.
- The hotel features 105 elegant rooms and suites, which all convey a refined and welcoming atmosphere. During my visit, I was triple upgraded to a beautiful junior suite, which featured a kingsize bed next to a cozy sitting area. The suite’s elegant and sophisticated decor gave way to large windows and a green wrought iron balcony overlooking the main city square. The suite was equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including a Nespresso coffee machine. The ensuite bathroom was equipped with one sink, a bathtub, and separate toilet and shower cubicles. Toiletries from the prestigious Anne Semonin brand were provided.
- The hotel’s leisure, health & wellness facilities are located in the basement and include a decently sized fitness center (open 24/7), which features several treadmills, recumbent bikes, and stair-steppers. The small and intimate spa has a sauna room and offers a range of massages, facial treatments, body rituals, and waxing, as well as manicure and pedicure services. Body treatment are moderately prices, for example 80 euros for a Swedish massage. There’s even a romantic love package on offer for 185 euros, in which couples get a 45 minute massage or private sauna session, accompanied by tea and Belgian truffles.
- The InterContinental Porto has two restaurants and one bar:
- The hotel’s fine dining venue is called Astoria and serves Portuguese contemporary cuisine with Mediterranean flavors. On summer days, guests can dine al fresco on the restaurant’s outdoor terrace.
- The Cardosas Bar is located in a side room of the lobby and decorated in the grand style of a traditional British library. The bar offers afternoon tea, fabulous Porto wines, and cocktails, accompanied by live music.
- There’s also an unnamed third restaurant behind the check-in area, where an excellent breakfast buffet is displayed each morning, comprising smoked salmon, cold cuts, cheeses, breads, pastries, cereal, fruit, coffee, tea, juices and more. There’s also a eggs menu (included in the breakfast rate).
- The property is managed by the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG). The IHG story started in 1946, when Pan American World Airways opened its first InterContinental hotel in 1949 in Belem, Brazil. Since then, IHG has grown worldwide to become one of the largest hotel brands on the globe. Today, the company manages over 5000 hotels globally, which are grouped under 13 brands, including the top brands InterContinental and Six Senses. IHG has a loyalty program which I reviewed here and which allows you to stay for free at properties, such as InterContinental Porto.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas is the best hotel in town. Yet, you need to know the following when considering a stay here:
- The property does not have a swimming pool, which is a slight disappointment, given the luxurious character of the hotel.
- Although food at the onsite fine dining restaurant Astoria is delicious, it’s an expensive option when compared to other dining options available in the city.
- Some lower-level rooms may get some street noise, although soundproofed windows block out most noise.
- The spa is a bit small and its decor slightly underwhelming, although it does have a sauna and offers terrific treatment. On a side note, the spa is not operated by the hotel but by a third party.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: N/A
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good – 8,8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at InterContinental Porto when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, WiFi, and a complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two people).
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like InterContinental Porto (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: IHG has a loyalty program which I reviewed here and which allows you to collect points and exchange them stay for free stays at IHG properties, such as InterContinental Porto.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
In general, Porto enjoys hot dry summers and mild but unpredictable winters. The weather is suitable for lounging outdoors and on the beach between May through to late September with the true summer months of July and August being very hot. The winter months can be unpredictable with an equal amount of bright clear days as gray wet days.
HOW TO GET THERE
InterContinental Porto Hotel is located a 20 to 30 minute drive from Porto Airport. The latter is served by most European full-service and low-cost airlines, as well as by many non-European airlines. Check the Wikipedia page of Porto Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Porto.