With its bustling port and busy port emporia, Porto’s reputation as a hard-working, hard-living city is etched into the very fabric of the city. Yet, even the hardest workers – which, in this hilly and cobbled-paved city, includes sightseers – need to put their feet up from time to time. Fortunately, Porto has spas aplenty. And not just your bog-standard saunas and steam rooms, with a Thai massage thrown in. Nope, from dynamic hydrotherapy and oriental aromatherapy to signature facial treatments and tailored body couture, expect the very best in science-based pampering. What could sound like a laboratory experiment is anything but. Exquisite décor combined with majestic views – be it out over the sea or across the city’s rooftops – leave you nigh-on levitating with zenned-out serenity. Here's our pick of the best spa hotels in Porto.
Inside a 19th-century villa, facing the breezy ocean in the charming district of Foz, are seven rooms and a gastronomic restaurant with a newer extension offering another 61 rooms, a spa, an indoor swimming pool and a restaurant, all designed by Nini Andrade de Silva. The buildings are different in feel with bedrooms in the villa having stuccoed ceilings and wooden floors whilst the modern rooms come carpeted and with a flowing wooden headboard, simulating waves, which runs down into the striped carpet. The small but well-equipped spa offers three treatment rooms, a Turkish bath, sauna and a gym.
From a decanter-shaped pool and the 25,000-bottle cellar to the grape-pip treatments at its spa, this stylish hotel revolves around wine. Each of the 70 spacious rooms and 12 suites is discreetly themed around a wine partner; décor in one light-filled superior double includes paraphernalia from Quinta Vale do Bragão in the Alto Douro, for instance. Each floor opens to the outdoors – to terraces, the pool or the croquet lawn. The bar and lounge are scattered with inviting sofas, and there’s an elegant library and a business centre. The restaurant, meanwhile, has been awarded two Michelin stars for Chef Ricardo Costa's contemporary Portuguese menu.
The five-star Palácio is one of Porto’s most stylish accommodation options, and its capacity as a spa hotel makes it the perfect place to enjoy some self-indulgence. The Palácio’s wellness and beauty centre is impressive. Facilities include a whirlpool tub, Swiss shower, hammam, sauna, contoured waterbeds and a heated pool with massage fountains. With dim lighting and soft music playing throughout, it’s the perfect recipe for relaxation. Entry is €15 (£13) per person, or free with any spa treatment. The hotel is also attached to a full-scale public gym and pool, which guests can access for one and a half hours a day at no extra cost.
Smack bang in the middle of Porto’s bustling downtown area, Flores Village combines the feel of a hotel with the convenience of an apartment, and when staff ask how your day was, you can expect they’ll be genuinely interested in your reply. The hotel includes an excellent array of facilities, including a spa with a diverse range of treatments such as wine therapy and shiatsu massages, as well as a sauna, steam room and gym. Beneath the spa area you’ll find a technicoloured Roman bath with bubble jets, and on the fourth floor is a quiet garden with cabana lounges and views of the city.
Over its 30-year history, the building that houses the Crowne Plaza has seen personalities such as Princess Diana, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones come through its doors. Guests are welcomed into a spacious foyer with clean lines and simple décor, and wide tiled corridors with dark timber finishes are found on the upper floors. Facilities include a well-equipped basement gymnasium, a bar and a restaurant that extends onto a garden terrace. Rather than providing a full service wellness centre with a sauna and steam room etc. the Crowne has opted to offer treatments, including hot stone and Thai massages, waxing and manicures, in an exclusive room on the 14th floor.
Contributions by Mary Lussiana, Emily McAuliffe & Yolanda Carslaw