Porto Boutique Hotel is a beautiful small hotel furnished with contemporary furniture located in a 100-year-old house with a bohemian flair.
How would you describe Porto Suites in a nutshell?
Porto Suites is quite different from standard boutique hotels in Porto. The first thing is that we are not very visible from the outside, we look just like a traditional townhouse in Porto. Porto Suites is in a very different niche, based on exclusive tailor-made services ranging from a luxurious in-room spa to private city tours. Above all, it is very relaxed and offers a feeling of being at home. It’s not like you’re staying in a hotel.
What was your inspiration to start a small hotel?
Part of our inspiration was our passion for traveling. Patricia and I have been travellers since we were young. We started travelling with our parents to these large resorts in the ’80s and then to smaller boutique hotels as we got older, and we noticed that that was the kind of service we enjoyed the most. For us, the idea was always to receive guests just as we were receiving friends in our own house.
Compared to a standard hotel, what makes Porto Suites so special?
We try to establish from the beginning through an exchange what our guests’ aims are for their holiday in Porto. From that point onwards, we offer a totally tailor-made experience. It all depends on the guests’ wishes. Not all establish this prior email-based exchange, but most do. It’s interesting to discover what certain guests want to discover on their holidays prior to their arrival or during their stay when we have time to share with them some thoughts on the best ways to enjoy the townhouse, the neighbourhood and finally the city of Porto and the wider region of northern Portugal.
What was the history of the building before it became a small hotel?
The building is located between the old and the newer part of the city. It’s a 19th-century wooden structure townhouse in a traditional narrow lot. It served as storage and office for the Portuguese publisher ‘Civilização’ until the mid ’90s, then it was derelict for almost 15 years. But more than a hundred years of history — the building was already mentioned in early 1800’s city plans — hides many stories still to be discovered among older neighbours and the unofficial history of the city of Porto.
The building was really run-down before we turned it into a small boutique hotel. Water was getting inside, so part of the wood was not in a good state. We renovated it to stabilise the structure, got rid of everything that wasn’t original to the building and brought back the traditional elements, and finally added a mix of contemporary furnishings and objects, which brought it back to life.
What has been the most rewarding experience to you personally running a small luxury hotel?
We haven’t approached the press, but word of mouth made the press aware of us across the globe, from articles in Monocle to reviews in the New York Times. It’s proof that we’re on the right track.
The comments have been widespread from the architecture to the services we offer. The best experience is when guests leave little presents behind and want to remain in contact with us. The relationships we build with some guests is really rewarding.
How would you describe Porto in a few words?
Porto is a very vibrant, contemporary city where you can have wonderful food and be very welcomed by people who really enjoy discovering different cultures. It’s an experience that goes beyond the UNESCO heritage and the obvious touristic things very easily.
Porto is also a very walkable city. After a while you feel like you own the city, feeling more like a local. You don’t feel like there are areas that are very far away.
How does Porto compare to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal?
Lisbon is the institutional capital of Portugal. It’s easy to understand the formality of that city. Porto is more relaxed and informal. For that reason, you can connect more with the city and feel part of what is happening rather than just being a spectator. Porto is definitely the most creative city in Portugal nowadays.
In terms of architecture, Porto has retained some of its Medieval aspects that are characteristic of older cities in Europe. It is now building on its history and renovating slowly.