Six Senses Douro Valley

Lamego, Douro Valley, Porto, Douro & Minho, Portugal Book from Eur230

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
Stunning wine and wellness estate cradled in vineyards by the Douro River: luxe relaxation at its best
I'm by no means a morning person. But if I lived in the bedroom I had at Six Senses, I'd definitely become one. Waking up in a sublimely comfortable bed and schooshing up the electric black-out blind to reveal dawn breaking over the Douro was a terrific experience. Especially when accompanied by an Iley espresso.

This is Six Senses' first foray into the European market. Famed for their incredible Asian beach retreats, they're now branching into Urban Escapes. And whilst this place feels anything but urban, it's only 90 minutes from Porto and is definitely a complete escape. In keeping with the company 'wellness' ethos, everything feels natural and clean-living, from the furnishings (liberal use of Portuguese oak, limestone and bamboo) to the food. You arrive to flickering candles and a pressed herbal drink. Vast windows give full focus to the Douro River, blue sky and red-gold vineyards. And around the acres of estate there are endless places to just be, including woodland 'nests', sunloungers flanking a glassy blue pool, sofas around a firepit as darkness falls. Add to this excellent food and exquisite wine and it's an escape you don't want to return from. Wow.

Highs

  • Awesome service - friendly and enthusiastic
  • The beautiful spa, with an A-Z of rejuvenating treatments and an indoor pool
  • Imaginative flair: we loved the 'create your own tea' station at breakfast, using herbs from their organic garden
  • As you'd hope, superb wine and port, including their own. There are nightly tastings in the wine library and local vineyard tours
  • Only 90 minutes from Porto airport. Long weekend, anyone?

Lows

  • Not cheap but 100% worth the splurge
  • Too much gadgetry - cool but a bit too clever at times, and our room was full of tiny LED lights at night
  • Room decor is bland compared to the communal areas, which have colorful modern art and decorative Azulejo tiles
  • Not ideal for children; they are welcome but the ambiance is romantic and tranquil

Best time to go

All year round. The Douro has a micro-climate, which massively boosts the quality and style of its wines, and on average, temperatures are higher than in Porto, and rainfall is less. Spring and autumn are the most popular times to go - April-June and September-October. September is wine harvest month - take a trip to local vineyards to stomp the grapes!

Our top tips

Try the 'Forest Bathing' walks - a Japanese concept which encourages quiet contemplative walks in nature with the senses open to every sound, smell, colour and feel of your surroundings.

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 57
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • Welcome but not ideal
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Tennis Court
  • Pool Table
  • Bicycles Available
  • Games room
  • Guided walks
  • Arial yoga and Pilates studio
Room:

Rooms

Rooms come in a host of categories, according to their view and square footage. In the main hotel, all you need to know is that all are super-comfortable and smart, and all are big with similar facilities (even some of the smallest rooms have free-standing bathtubs or outdoor space). But splashing out on a River view will elevate your stay from memorable to unforgettable.

Queen and kingsize beds are perfectly firm yet soft, swathed in cool cotton sheets with wool throws and a big bank of pillows. There are linen-tweed grey sofas, dark-wood tables (and big TVs, should you tire of the views). Powerful showers are invigorating, baths are deep enough for a serious wallow. The Organic Pharmacy toiletries smell spa-divine.

Gadget-lovers will be in heaven, with smartphones controlling everything from the lighting to the room service, and walls of clever switches controlling everything else. You'll find Iley espresso machines, just-picked grapes and a library of guest information folders. Best of all, you'll find peace.

The Vineyard Apartments and Villas are spread between standalone buildings deeper in the grounds, with private or shared pools and gardens. They come with full kitchens so offer more independence and are popular with groups/families and for longer stays.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Whether you eat indoors or out on the river-view terrace, meals are an occasion, yet the ambiance is relaxed and unstuffy. The restaurant is stylish, with wooden tables, low-hanging wicker lanterns and Azulejo tiling on the wall. Charming staff advise on the menu and wine list; you'll want to try everything.

My gazpacho of oxheart tomato was delicious, as were my husband's oven-roasted sardines (the roasting oven is fuelled with fresh eucalyptus). Mains were a local codfish with garden-herb crust (fabulous, especially the earthy mushrooms that accompanied it), and a grilled tiger prawn with leek salad (slightly overdone, but tasty). The wine list is of course phenomenal. For dessert we galloped through banana French toast, and a puff pastry pasteis de nata with cinnamon ice cream.

As for breakfast, it was the biggest buffet spread I've ever seen. Glass jars of almond yoghurt sat alongside rhubarb puree and pots of goji berries and chia seeds. A whole table groaned under charcuterie and local cheeses. Delicious juices included a yummy carrot and orange. There was so much on offer, we didn't even look at the cooked options.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • With a cellar of 750 bottles, 3 wine directors, a wine library with nightly tastings, and expert tours of local vineyards, there's never been a better place to learn about fabulous vintages
  • Spend a day in the spa. Try a soothing herbal bath (fresh lavender, chamomile and rosemary from the garden), Finnish sauna or indulge in a Rose Crystal facial and antioxidant Grape Rejuvenation treatment
  • Take a guided walk through the Douro Valley, through historic villages and vine-filled terraces. Or go by electric bike
  • Daily yoga and Pilates lessons are on offer
  • Take a boat cruise down the Douro with lunch or dinner, or try canyoning and zip-lining
  • The historic town of Lamego is only 15 minutes away. Its main plaza is overlooked by an ornate hilltop shrine that zigzags down hundreds of steps; unmissable
  • Day trip to Porto, 90 minutes away. We loved its authentic charm and cobbled streets; it feels very independent and original, with a gorgeous riverfront area

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Pilates
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Pool table
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

Children are welcome at the hotel, and staff were incredibly kind to our 1-year-old daughter, but it doesn't feel like a family hotel. The ambiance is quiet, the emphasis is on wine and gourmet food, and there aren't any specific children's facilities. That said, beds and cots are available, and kids under 12 stay for free and are just charged for meals.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Quinta Rivers can fit a baby cot, and Quinta Superiors and Quinta Suites can fit an extra bed or baby cot, but baby monitors will only stretch from the dining terrace to 2 of the Quinta Superior rooms and the Douro Master Suite. For more independence, the Vineyard Apartment and Villas offer full kitchens and private or shared gardens and pools.

Babysitting:

Full babysitting on offer, or staff can do a couple of checks on a sleeping child for you while you dine.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and high chairs.

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

Children's meals:

No specific menu but the chef will cook anything for you on request. He whipped up fishfingers and chips for our daughter (I know! At a wellness retreat!).

Families Should Know:

You'd need to keep an eagle eye on children as there are lots of breakables/expensive furnishings. The outdoor pool is unheated. Families can go in the indoor spa pool provided the spa is not busy. The nearest shops are a drive away.

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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