Over the last decade, Lisbon has finally been getting the recognition it deserves for its combination of history, breezy sophistication, and ethereal, red-tiled-roof beauty. But just about 300 km to the north, Portugal‘s second city of Porto remains one of those rare “undiscovered” European cities, with its stunning mix of architectural styles and majestic position along the Douro River.
Boutique hotel development has been correspondingly slow, and international brands like W or Andaz are certainly nowhere to be found. But independent hoteliers have been decisively taking to the task—and the gorgeous new Torel Palace Porto is the most sublime recent example of this.
From the Torel Group’s Torel Boutiques collection, it’s housed in an elegant 19th Century palace along the Rua de Entreparedes. A stunning, original skylight above a dramatic staircase sets the aesthetic tone, which strikes a delicate balance between the classical and modern. Rooms have etched ceilings, gossamer drapery, and carefully chosen antiques—yet might also hold contemporary, cow print chairs. Each is named for a famous Portuguese novelist or poet (Florbela Espanca, Raul Brandão, etc.)
The onsite restaurant is named Blind, not because you’re made to eat in the dark (that trend has long come and gone), but rather it’s a reference to José Saramago’s 1998 novel Blindness. Still, diners are also encouraged to let award-winning chef Vitor Matos and their own senses guide them through a unique culinary experience.
There’s a tiled pool (adorned by opulent chandeliers, why not?), and a SKINLIFE Wellness Suite with luxurious facial, massage and other treatments—so you get to enjoy the intimacy of a 24 room hotel, with the services of a five-star. But most of all, it’s a great reason to visit a new city that still holds untold surprises…so go, before everyone else figures it out.