Or – Is a Five star hotel THAT much better than a four-star hotel?
When preparing for my trip last year (2019) I booked almost all my hotel stays in advance (and one AirBnb stay). Bar a few nights in Tajikistan, I was booked for the rest of the nights which meant I knew where I was staying and in most cases, I had already paid which I like to do. And anyways, I wanted to find one really nice hotel to stay in, and when I was searching the usual haunts – the Agodas and booking dot coms, for places to stay in Porto the ‘Infantes Sagres’ came up, a five-star hotel with a big discount on offer, and I thought I’d surprise my wife and booked it. Usually we discuss the hotels and my wife will offer suggestions and I’ll offer some and then, you know, we make a choice. But this time I was like ‘it’s okay I’ve booked something don’t worry’ and I shut down questions because I wanted it to be a surprise. So I knew I had to find something pretty special, right?
And it looked amazing on the web. In an historic building in a good part of the city (although in retrospect, perhaps slightly too far up the hill) the photos online really impressed, with stained glass windows over a stair case, gold lead decorations, lavish sitting rooms, I thought about it for a couple of days and decided that I would just go for it, sod the money. And that’s because despite a great discount, it was still a lot of money. In the end $884 with Agoda for four nights, so $221AUD a night. I did a check today and the official rate is $284AUD a night, but that’s in Covid Times, so I think normally it’s upwards of $300AUD a night. For reference $221AUD is around or a little over $150USD right now, but out dollar is presently stronger than it was back in December when we visited.
Anyways, the best part of one thousand Aussie Dollars for four nights, for me that’s quite the splurge if you look back over the way I USED to travel. But I wanted a special stay, and I was pretty confident I would get one, but I must say – it had some expectations to live up to!
So we arrived by train and at the Porto station (Campanha) we worked out how to get to the Metro. Then we had to work out how to get to the right platform and buy a ticket, and anyways, we got into town and then walked downhill a little way to get to the hotel, it is just off the main strip in a little square, and not far from the Livaria Lello, the bookshop where JK Rowling spent time and it inspired Daigon Alley in her Harry Potter series.
The outside actually is pretty lowkey. You could be fooled by the front, it’s just down from Aliados – which cuts through this part of Porto. There are a number of restaurants in the area too, and for your washing, it’s less than five minutes’ walk to a coin laundrette. But it’s all about what’s inside, right?
It’s beautifully decorated. It’s painted white mostly, with indoor windows showing you a sitting room next to reception which handles breakfast overflow and I think had a fire as well. We were welcomed with a glass of port (each obviously!) which is basically the perfect way to be greeted. The décor is beautiful and immaculately maintained. The ceiling had a beautiful wood design, and there were also some stunning chandeliers.
The dining room – well for the breakfast – was very ornate too, as was basically the whole set-up. There was a restaurant we unfortunately didn’t try (there are loads of options in Porto for eating out!) and there is also a pool which, in November, we weren’t going to take a dip in for obvious reason as it was outside! Finally, the best little thing was the old time lift! It appeared to be the original lift of the building, had a mirror, was wooden and had a little seat for the very tired. In short – pretty gosh darned cute!
The room itself was very comfy, but I guess a little smaller than I was expecting. The bed was soft and comfy, and unusually high too requiring a bit of a jump to get into it. Large TV with many cable channels (including TLC which I entirely watched too much of when I was there!) there was desk, a window with an interesting view and a cupboard to hang things up in with a safe as well.
The bathroom was well appointed (oh listen to me!) with a large sink area. The shower was fine, but again one of those annoying ‘rain’ shower heads which I’m not a fan of. There was no bath which was probably the only real negative.
Breakfast was huge! And fantastic and included in the price. A real buffet to dine out on, and we did! And of course they offered the little custard tarts that Portugal is famous for, Pasteis de Nata. You really must try one if you go to Portugal. Although you won’t have a hope of stopping at one.
All in all there was great service, and it was a great experience and I’m glad I forked out for this one because, although I do say so myself, I chose it! And my wife agrees it was the best hotel pretty much that we’ve ever stayed in, at the very least easily the best of last year’s trip!
Value For Money: 4/5
TOTAL: 21/25 [84/100]
Thanks for stopping by – May the Journey Never End!