Exmo. Hotel by Olivia

Porto, Douro & Minho, Portugal
Book from GBP Book from £122 per night

Exmo. Hotel by Olivia

Porto, Douro & Minho, Portugal

A stunningly restored heritage building overlooking the Douro in the heart of Porto, with a buzzy old-meets-new vibe

A stunningly restored heritage building overlooking the Douro in the heart of Porto, with a buzzy old-meets-new vibe

You can tell from the deliberate full stop after the name ("Exmo.") that this place takes its design details seriously. The ochre-coloured 14th century heritage building has been stunningly renovated - think exposed stone blocks, burnished leather headboards and a maze of industrial-chic piping - by the same team that brought 1872 River House to the top of our Porto list. Exmo had only just opened when we visited in 2020, but guest feedback is glowing, and all the signs are that it is every bit the equal of its riverside sibling.

Located in a vibrant neighbourhood a couple of blocks above the Douro river - which is visible from many of the windows and balconies - it's within easy walking distance of the Luis I bridge, the Bishops Palace and most other key attractions. You can walk pretty much anywhere from here. Inside, we were wowed by the artworks and sculptures by local artists (the owners dream of running an art gallery within the hotel), not to mention the beautifully sculpted spiral staircase, the concrete-slabbed bar and the huge iron-cased windows. Once a warehouse, then a bank, this latest incarnation as a buzzy boutique hotel will deservedly bring life and love back into a venerable building.

Highs

  • Extremely friendly and efficient staff who remember you by name
  • Lots of choice for breakfast, and it’s served until 1pm
  • We liked the contrast of the contemporary-styled bedrooms with the visibly ancient walls and windows
  • Luxe touches include heated bathroom floors, TVs which double as mirrors, and sumptuous kingsize beds
  • We were amazed that we heard literally no street noise, despite being bang in the centre

Lows

  • While there is a lift, be aware that it is reached via a small flight of stairs
  • Some rooms are small: it's worth paying the extra for a larger room
  • Limited in-room storage space in some bedrooms

Best time to go

Spring or autumn are best if you want to avoid the crowds but still catch some sun. July and August are the busiest months, but if you plan to swim in the sea (a short tram- or bus ride away) it's your best bet; and even then it can be bracing.

Our top tips

Wear comfortable shoes: Porto has lots to see - and lots of cobbled lanes and hills!

Great for...

City Style
Family
Romantic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 16 rooms
  • Breakfast + other meals on request
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Laundry service
Room:

Rooms

There are 16 rooms over 4 floors, and almost all have great views of Porto - either down towards the river or back up towards the city's handsome buildings. Some have French balconies which are great for soaking in the atmosphere of Porto from your room. Rooms do vary considerably in size, with the smallest ones having not much space around the (huge) kingsize bed; we'd recommend upgrading if you can.

Quirky decorative details include bronzed leather headboards, sculpted ceramic handbasins, and lots of curved metal tubing for the plumbing and the furniture - including a wheel-shaped shelving unit in our room. Indulgent and futuristic touches include fantastic pillows and mattresses, stacks of towels and robes, heated bathroom floors, and a TV which doubles as a mirror.

The 2 Premium Roomsare the pick of the bunch. We particularly loved the River View room, whose private terrace overlooks the Douro river. Both have huge floorplans, but tall guests should be aware that the City View room some sloping eaves. The Superior Rooms are a good middle option, with plenty of space and elevated views. Most Standard Rooms with City View have big windows and enough space for a couple on a weekend break. Note that many rooms have no drawers or wardrobes, just an open hanging space and perhaps some under-bed storage.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar
  • Safe box
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast - or more accurately brunch, as it's served until 1pm - is a rich array including delicious homemade cakes, eggs to order, freshly squeezed juices, cold meats and cheeses, and more besides. It's taken in the ancient dining room - one wall is made of huge stone blocks from the adjacent customs house - but brought achingly up-to-date with leather sofas, modernist chairs and racks of gleaming glasses at the colourful cocktail bar.

Exmo doesn't serve dinner, but with so many eateries of all types on your doorstep, this is no hardship. And if you're really exhausted from a day pounding the streets, there is a menu of light bites such as soups and sandwiches to eat in.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Take a cable car up to the top of Dom Luis I Bridge for incredible views of Porto
  • Book a river cruise along the Douro River to see all 6 famous bridges; boats leave from just below the hotel
  • Visit the port houses along the river to try a variety of wines; tours and tastings are available
  • Next to the hotel, the Casa do Infante - birthplace of Henry the Navigator and former home of the city's Mint - gives a snapshot of Porto from its Roman beginnings to colonial greatness
  • Also nearby is the Palacio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange), an impressive 19thC building with Islamic influences, which sheds light on the city's trading history
  • Opposite is Ferreira Borges, an old iron-clad market converted into an art gallery, concert and exhibition space (but there was not much on when we visited)

Kids

Like all guests, children are welcomed with big smiles here. It's more suited to older children who will enjoy the city's boat trips and buzzy atmosphere; and not so great for babies in strollers (though cots and baby-sitters are available).

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Both Premium Rooms are huge. The one with a city view has a double sofabed for 1-2 children, while the one with a river view has space for a rollaway single bed.

Kids Activities on site:

Puzzles and games in the bar area

Distances:

  • Shops: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Exmo Hotel is situated close to the Douro in Ribeira, the UNESCO-listed old town of Porto, northern Portugal.

By Air:
Porto’s Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport (17km) is served by flights from across Europe. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll probably have to fly into Lisbon Portela (307km), which is around three hours away by car or train.

Staff can arrange transfers from Porto airport, or you can take the metro to São Bento station (a five-minute walk from the hotel).

By Car:
You won't need a car in Porto, but if you want to hire one to explore further afield then see our car rental recommendations. Staff can direct you to a nearby car park.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Porto Francisco Sá Carneiro 17.0 km OPO
  • Lisbon Portela 307.0 km LIS

Other:

  • Beach 6.0 km
  • Shops 0.1 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 11 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

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Rates for Exmo. Hotel by Olivia

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