Rosa Et Al Townhouse

Porto, Douro & Minho, Portugal Book from

Reviewed by Abi Dare
A great-value design hotel in a dynamic, arty quarter of Porto, with eclectic décor, inspired food and a serene feel
Porto has a warm, creative buzz and in its hippest neighbourhood, close to the gallery-studded Rua de Miguel Bombarda, is the warm, creative Rosa Et Al Townhouse. Hidden behind the most unassuming of doorways, this elegant old building has been imaginatively restored by brother-and-sister team Emanuel and Patrícia, and from the moment you enter it feels more like home than hotel. Rotating modern art adorns the walls and a sense of wellbeing pervades throughout, from the bright, book-lined lobby at the front to the herb-scented garden to the rear.

It's well suited to a weekend break, and staff will anticipate your every need: booking taxis, suggesting restaurants, and sharing insider tips on their favourite haunts. A spiral staircase topped by a magnificent glass dome sweeps up to 6 light-filled bedrooms, all with a funky blend of vintage 60s furniture, Portuguese linens and clawfoot tubs, and many with balconies that catch the sun. A seventh waits in the garden. As for the food - much of it organic, some of it home-grown - it’s a delicious surprise from lazy brunch to informal dinner. We loved it as much as the vibrant city in which it sits, and we can’t wait to return.


  • An impeccable renovation of a traditional townhouse, with original architecture alongside contemporary design
  • An intimate, laid-back atmosphere, with an enchanting city garden and in-room massages to help you unwind
  • Spacious, well-priced rooms with covetable pieces by the likes of Charles and Ray Eames and Hans Wegner
  • Lots of tasty treats: set-menu dinners, brunch-style breakfasts, home-baked cakes, cookery workshops
  • Set in the trendiest part of town, where restaurants and boutiques abound, and just a 15-minute stroll from the historic riverfront


  • Some rooms have no fitted division between the bed and bathroom (not ideal for those who like their privacy), and we're yet to see the Garden Pavilion first hand
  • The building isn't obviously marked, making it delightfully discreet but a bit tricky to spot
  • Not particularly suited to families, although all rooms can take a baby cot
  • Service at breakfast can be a little slow (another excuse to sit back and take things easy!)
  • No lift so it’s a bit of a clamber up to rooms on the upper floors, but staff will assist with luggage

Best time to go

Generally, we'd recommend coming in March, April or May before it gets too hot and the tourists descend. September is great if you’re interested in seeing the grape harvest in the nearby Douro Valley, and October often brings late summer sun. You may wish to time your trip to coincide with one of Porto’s many festivals, the most famous of which is the colourful Festa de São João in June - a big street party with music and fireworks.

Our top tips

Don’t miss the Portuguese Centre for Photography, housed in a former prison (complete with original barred windows!) just a short walk from the hotel. It has some excellent exhibitions of contemporary work, as well as an interesting collection of vintage cameras. The top floor provides sweeping views over Porto's rooftops, too.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast (+ dinner on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room: King Grand Deluxe City Heritage


The 7 rooms are large and airy, with a sprinkling of period features - perhaps an elegant black fireplace, a tiled nook or an arched doorway. But what really sets them apart is the sleek mid-century furniture, much of it by iconic designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Jean Prouvé and Hans Wegner. It’s offset beautifully by contemporary lighting, pale wooden floors and colourful throws handmade by Patrícia, who teaches crochet and quilting in her spare time.

Size and bed type vary, but most rooms have clawfoot tubs with overhead showers, and all have a few little luxuries (Castelbel Porto toiletries, robes and slippers, a welcome bottle of wine). Those to the rear of the main house come with garden-facing balconies; we were lucky enough to stay in one of these - the Queen Deluxe Garden, which sits under a tangle of top-floor rafters - and loved lingering in the evening sunshine with an aperitif. Down below, the Garden Pavilion waits on the lawn. Added since our visit, this is a more modern creation which we look forward to seeing for ourselves soon.

Back in the house, the rooms at the front overlook the street, but it’s not particularly busy. Note that Club (the smallest room) and City Heritage (set in the former drawing room, with a delicate plasterwork ceiling) have no wall enclosing their ensuites; instead, the bath and loo are hidden behind tall travel trunks that double as shelving.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Slippers
  • Toiletries
  • TV on request
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Delicious dishes flow from the small kitchen into the relaxed dining room, starting with breakfast - a lazy brunch-style affair served until 12.30. Sit back with a coffee and choose from a selection of tempting options - homemade granola and yoghurt, eggs done numerous ways, honey-glazed croissants with seasonal jam. On Sundays, it’s opened up to outside guests for a ‘Special Brunch’, which might include pancakes, chorizo frittatas and sticky tartines.

In the evening, 3-course dinners are available with advance notice, and we’d recommend eating in at least once during your stay. Our meal started with port and red-berry cocktails on the sofa, before we moved to a candlelit table for the main event: grilled tiger prawns with fennel and nuts, bacalhau rolled in spices, and a gooey chocolate fondant with mint-infused strawberries - all lip-smackingly good and paired with excellent Portuguese wines.

You can also help yourself to a tipple from the honesty bar, order an afternoon treat from a menu of home-baked cakes and scones, or make a brew from the vast selection of teas (Patrícia is something of a tea aficionado). And when it comes to eating out, Porto has all manner of restaurants to choose from; staff know all the best places, so just ask.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Dining room
Activity: Ribeira


  • The local area brims with boho boutiques and arty temptations. If shopper’s shoulder strikes, treat yourself to an in-room massage on your return
  • Stroll down to the UNESCO-listed Old Town, Ribeira, and get pleasantly lost among its vertiginous streets and sun-dappled squares
  • Cross the river along the soaring Ponte Dom Luís and sample the wares in the port lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia; almost all offer tours and tastings
  • Explore the charmingly dilapidated Mercado do Bolhão, which has barely changed since 1914. You'll find dangling pigs’ hooves, goose-neck barnacles, seasonal fruit and live roosters
  • Marvel at the spiralling staircases and curved panelling inside Lello, one of the world’s most ornate bookshops, which sits in the sedate university quarter
  • Board the rickety old tram and clatter out to the beach at Foz do Douro, where you can sip cocktails and watch the sun sink into the Atlantic
  • Visit Porto’s bold, contemporary icons, including Alvaro Siza Vieira's Museu de Arte Contemporânea (whose gardens are worth the visit alone), and the edgy Casa da Música by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas
  • Sign up for one of the hotel’s informal cookery workshops, or ask staff about tailored art, architecture and food tours

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Live music
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting


This is more of a place for romantics, but kids of all ages will find a real welcome, too.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Grand Deluxe Garden I room and Garden Pavilion can each take an extra bed, and baby cots for children under 2 are available in all rooms.


English-speaking babysitters can be arranged on request.

Baby equipment:

High chairs are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

A kids' menu is available.

Kid Friendly: King Grand Deluxe Garden I

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