“A glorious blend of 18th-century tradition and 21st-century technology, this winery hotel has style, views, a pool and great food”
The traditional saffron-hued 15th-century farmhouse was turned into 5 comfortable rooms in 2005 by the Ribeiro family. You get romantic details like an in-built stone window seat, or a chamfered lookout with a colonnade. Bedheads are wooden, sometimes painted; colours are cosy - an antique rug might grace the floor, bird prints may cluster on walls. The Superior room is larger and occupies a corner of the farmhouse; the Suite has an additional living room. Bathrooms are tiled in aquamarine, cream or ochre.
The 2-storey building is surprisingly spacious inside, and has a large upper-floor living room with a fireplace, books and magazines leading to a balcony covered in vines for commanding views over the countryside. Adjacent is a formal dining room, with family heirlooms and photos. At the back is a small chapel room, useful for ceremonies. The staircase is adorned with hats, a detail repeated in the reception area of the 2012 New Wing.
Here you get a completely contemporary version of the traditional Douro farmhouse. Two storeys again, with the common areas - a large living room with a fireplace and honesty bar, a games room, a dining space - on the ground floor, and floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of that valley view.
Eight smart rooms run along the angled top floor, all with excellent views and balconies, and identically decorated in white, wood, glass and precision-cut slate. The Suite has an additional living room and a larger balcony; Superior rooms are at the end of the building, so again have a larger footprint - we really enjoyed our large balcony. Super bathrooms have slate baths, double sinks, a separate loo and shower behind glass doors, and swanky hardware.
All rooms have good-quality linens and towels, a radio with iPod dock, a safe box, a hairdryer, a flat-screen TV, bathrobes, locally produced complimentary toiletries, and slippers. Those in the New Wing also have underfloor heating in the bathrooms. All can be configured as twin rooms on request, and all except the Standard rooms in the Manor House can have an additional bed or baby cot added.
Breakfast, in the form of a superior continental buffet, is laid out along the counters in the dining room from 8.30am. Choose from ham, chorizo, cheese slices, local quince paste, croissants and pastries, delicious homemade pumpkin jam, marmalades, lovely fruits, honey, nuts and cereals. Eggs are cooked to order, and tea, coffee and hot chocolate are plentiful.
You're probably out and about for lunch, and can ask for a picnic to be made up with a bit of notice. If not, then tuck into a small tapas menu - those little country sausages were truly the very best I have ever eaten, rich with pork fat - or order sandwiches.
But dinner was where we began to fully appreciate the Douro region's gourmet bounty. The hotel has its own vegetable patch, and the simple set menus showcase local produce. On our first night we started with a light, smooth and creamy cabbage soup, followed by baked cod in breadcrumbs with local potatoes. My husband had the roasted goat ribs. Dessert was the most delicate of lime mousses. On the second night we feasted on hake and spinach bake, pork medallions in a port sauce, then lemon pie. Our daughter was cooked for specially - chicken escalope followed by chocolate fondant. So any special requests can be easily catered for. And of course, there's the wine...
Don't miss the winery tour. You're shown the vineyards, and the state-of-the-art facilities for wine production. The guide spoke immaculate English. There's a small shop attached should you be unable to resist a bottle of their tawny port, as we were... Note that Jancis Robinson ranked Quinta do Vallado Sousão 2009 Douro as one of the top 50 Portuguese wines. But make sure you have enough room in your luggage, as you already receive a bottle of wine and olive oil for booking through i-escape!
If you want to dine elsewhere, consider Aquapura, just 12km away, or DOC on the Douro, or try Castas & Pratas or DouroIn.
Quinta do Vallado is a great place for a family stay. The pool and gardens, boat trips down the Douro, and the opportunity to go on the wine tour or have a massage while a babysitter looks after the kids, will mean everybody in the family has a good time. Staff are unfailingly sweet to children, although the nicely set-out common spaces and long drop from the low wall aren't conducive to toddlers.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)
The Manor House Suite and New Wing Suite are the best option as they can fit a baby cot in the in the bedroom as well as 2 extra beds for children in the living room. The living room can alternatively fit 1 extra bed for over 12s.
Babysitters can be arranged - see Rates.
Baby monitors are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking