The Yeatman

Porto, Douro & Minho, Portugal Book from Eur185

Reviewed by Sarah Gilbert
A luxurious, light-filled wine and spa hotel set high among the port lodges, with stunning views over historic Porto
In the last 2 decades, Portugal’s second city has undergone an architectural and culinary renaissance - and it now has a hotel to match. Set on a hilltop in Vila Nova de Gaia - the traditional home of port - The Yeatman, member of the Relais & Châteaux, looks out over the River Douro and the jumble of red-tiled rooftops that make up Old Porto.

The hotel's terraced layers imitate the vineyards of the Douro Valley, but the wine theme doesn’t end there. There’s a fabulous decanter-shaped infinity pool (plus a second one indoors), and an enormous Caudalie Vinothérapie spa, where treatments include barrel bath immersions, merlot scrubs and other grape-infused luxuries.

At Dick’s Bar - named after one of Taylor's top port producers, Dick Yeatman - you can drink cocktails alfresco in summer or around a cosy log fire in cooler months, while the gourmet restaurant pairs neo-Portuguese cuisine with regional wines from the vast cellar (25,000+ bottles). Just be sure to round things off with a vintage port, because The Yeatman is owned by the Fladgate Partnership, one of the leading port shippers, whose brands include Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft.

Highs

  • Delightful Porto, a Unesco site with cobbled streets, skinny medieval townhouses, a pretty waterfront for river cruises and excellent eateries
  • Top-notch meals from a Michelin-starred chef - serious foodies and wine buffs will be in their element here
  • The 82 rooms have gorgeous river views from large balconies, kingsize beds and indulgent bathrooms with soaking tubs
  • Tasting Portugal's wines, with the guidance of the Wine Director. And the port warehouses of Vila Nova de Gaia are on your doorstep
  • The grand marble-floored reception, with its feature staircase ending in a naked statue of Bacchus

Lows

  • With 82 rooms it's bigger than our usual i-escape gems, but they try extremely hard, and guest feedback is good for couples and families alike
  • Breakfast is excluded from room rates - but is an amazing spread, and well worth the extra
  • It can be a long walk to your room, but you’ll be kept entertained by displays in the 'educational corridors' which feature subjects such as 'the history of cork'
  • The interior design lacks a coherent style - and some may not like features such as the naked Bacchus!
  • Can be tricky to find - make sure you take the Detailed Directions you'll be sent when you book through i-escape

Best time to go

The hotel is open all year but the best time to visit Porto is from late April to September, when it is usually sunny and warm. In June, people from all over the country flock to Porto’s historic centre for the Festival of São João, a street party with music, a massive fireworks display and people banging each other on the head with plastic hammers! The hotel balconies offer prime viewing spots for the fireworks. Wine Harvests take place in September.

Our top tips

Stroll down to the lively riverfront promenade of Cais de Gaia at sunset. Explore the open-air market, before taking in the fabulous views of the double-decker Dom Luis Bridge and historic Porto from the wooden terrace of the chic Bogani Café.

Great for...

City Style
Eco
Family
Foodie
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 82
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
  • Library/Smoking room
Room: Executive Room

Rooms

The 82 rooms and suites were themed by different Portuguese wine producers, giving unique touches throughout - photos, artefacts and wine memorabilia. Spacious and light, they all face the river, and have private balconies for soaking up the sun and the fantastic views of Porto.

In the Executive Rooms the furniture is classic and understated, while the colours are bold and contemporary - lime greens, yellows and oranges, picked out in the upholstery and curtains covering the floor-to-ceiling windows. The kingsize beds have superb mattresses and crisp white linen; we slept really deeply.

Bright bathrooms come complete with antioxidant-rich Caudalie Vinothérapie products, Portuguese ceramic-tiled showers and large tubs. If you open the Venetian shutters between the bathroom and bedroom, you can enjoy the views while you soak.

Superior Rooms have a larger balcony, while the Suites are even more capacious with walk-in wardrobes.

There are 4 Master Suites, which all have panoramic balconies, as well as separate living and dressing areas. For total immersion in the wine theme, the Taylor’s Suites have beds carved from enormous port vats; very cool. If money is no object, the vast open-plan Bacchus Suite, housed on the top floor, has a kingsize bed set on a rotating plinth (so you can swivel between city views and vast plasma TVs), a cosy sitting area with a dramatic feature fireplace, and a conservatory leading to a private terrace complete with sunbeds and a fountain!

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Breakfast is usually eaten in the elegant Orangerie on the 4th floor with its sunny terrace and views over Porto or on your private balcony (room service incurs an additional charge). A big buffet awaits, with pastries, local cured meats and hams, smoked salmon, breads, yoghurts, set cooked creams and fresh fruit salad plus a vast cheeseboard and selection of hot dishes. It's a great way to start the day - we loved it.

For lunch, Dick’s Bar serves snacks and light dishes throughout the day and has a rotating wine menu that showcases a selection from the 25,000-bottle cellar picked by Beatriz Machado, the hotel’s Wine Director - the cellar is open for tours daily from 4-6pm. A family-style lunch is offered on Sundays, between 12.30-3pm, featuring traditional Portuguese dishes by chef Ricardo Costa. Or you can dine from a more limited fine dining menu (the Express Menu) in the restaurant.

Our dinner began with sunset cocktails (we tried their signature 'Pale', a refreshing mixture of white port, tonic and mint) on the dining terrace, with the twinkling lights of Porto as a backdrop. We then moved inside for the mouthwatering 7-course tasting menu. Michelin-starred Portuguese chef Ricardo Costa makes innovative use of regional produce, and we loved our meal, which included hot vichyssoise with a brandade of bacalhau, wild turbot, Aroquesa veal and Serra cheese with vintage port sorbet. You can also choose a 3-course selection from the Chef's selection; menus change frequently. As you'd expect, the food was accompanied by an impressive selection of Portuguese wines, including a fragrant Vinho Verde and a fruity Vinhas Velhas Santa Maria, and we rounded off with a sublime vintage port. The Yeatman regularly holds wine dinners focusing on a particular producer.

Porto itself is undergoing a culinary resurgence, so for a change of scene you'll be spoilt for eating choices. Try Dom Tonho set in the old walls of Ribeira, the Asian fusion menu at super-cool Restaurante Buhle in the upmarket district of Foz, or Shis Restaurante for great sushi overlooking the surf.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Learn the difference between ruby and tawny on a tour of Taylor’s port wine lodge, one of the city’s oldest producers, just across the road from the hotel. There are various other port wine lodges nearby

  • Bliss out in the superb Vinothérapie® Spa - there’s a tepidarium, Roman bath, sauna and hammam plus a range of Caudalie Vinothérapie treatments. We liked the sound of wine-themed barrel bath immersions or a merlot scrub

  • Visit the Fundação de Serralves, a world-class contemporary museum, set in acres of parkland filled with intriguing sculptures

  • Catch a performance at the incredible Casa de Música, a state-of-the art music venue with astounding acoustics, a ‘floating bar’ and a series of themed salons

  • Explore Ribeira, where the steep cobbled streets wind down to a waterfront lined with skinny medieval townhouses

  • Take a tour of Old Porto, from the cathedral’s tiled cloister, to the golden Gothic splendour of São Francisco church, and the views from the top of the iconic Clerigos Tower

  • Porto isn’t short on cafés but The Majestic, built in 1921, is one of the most opulent, all leather banquettes, marble and chandeliers

  • Livraria Lello - dating from 1906 - has been voted one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops, famous for its stained glass ceiling, wood panelling and scarlet staircase

  • Lively Bolhão Market stocks all manner of cheeses, meats and freshly caught fish, alongside Portuguese staple, bacalhau, or salt cod

  • Take a '6-bridges cruise' along the River Douro to the mouth of the Atlantic, or wander along its banks and find shady parks, sandy beaches and panoramic viewing spots

  • In the evening, head to Clérigos and Galeria de Paris, where bar-hoppers spill out of ultra-modern venues housed in retro buildings and fill the narrow street until the early hours

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Port tasting
  • Shopping / markets
  • Wine tasting

Kids

As a specialist spa/wine hotel, The Yeatman is not really designed for rambunctious children, but they are welcome. We'd say that if you're coming here for a short break with your young family and want to relax, it's an ideal set up. You can enjoy the city together (Douro river cruises and the Bolhão market are just 2 suggestions) then make use of the child-minding facilities to relax in the spa. Children will enjoy the heated swimming pools, summer or winter. The Kids' Club has a room of books, toys and games (although it is unsupervised unless on request), plenty of activities on offer in the holidays, and a round-the-clock babysitting service can be arranged with advance notice. One tier has a shared grassy lawn with some wooden animals made for playing on, plus an open sided tent covering some seating. And the hotel provides candy and colouring books as gifts for the kids on arrival - cute!

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Superior Rooms and Suites can all fit a rollaway bed for an extra child. Children over 2 years incur a small cost for the extra bed. We loved our Master Suite as it had heaps of space for the whole family and a vast bath plus private terrace giving onto the shared grassy lawn.

Babysitting:

Round-the-clock babysitting available if arranged in advance. Pay by the hour (costs vary), see Rates.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • High chairs

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

Creche/Kid's Club:

Although it's generally unsupervised, the Kids' Club (Monday-Friday, 9am-8pm) is a great space for kids from 3 to 16 years, with activities on offer in school holidays such as face painting, games, crafts, films (with popcorn), and wine cellar visits.

Children's meals:

Meals and bottle warming can be prepared by request.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools
  • Treasure hunt, storytelling, painting (in Kids' Club in school holidays)
  • Films
  • Gardens

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Douro river boat trips
  • Port cellar trips - really! They can inspire a bit of a Harry Potter-style adventure, while you enjoy the drinks...
  • The lively Bolhão market and tottering buildings in the Ribiera district are fun to explore

Families Should Know:

Kids will need supervision when in both pools as they have deep ends.

Distances:

  • Airport 45 minutes
  • Hospital: 10 minutes
  • Nearest shop: 3 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for The Yeatman