Porto, Portugal is a city to visit if you’re longing for an escape. With it’s old feel and romantic vibes, exploring the cobblestone streets will have you feeling as if you’ve journeyed into a different life. Although the city has rustic vibes, the vibrant up and coming art scene is hard to miss. From independent artisanal stores to intimate design hotels, you’ll find creativity around every corner. As usual, Off The Wall is bringing you the best of the city from where to stay, what to eat, where to explore and how to best treat yourself while in Porto.
Casa Do Conto
When arriving at Casa do Conto in the quaint streets of Porto, Portugal you’ll have to do a double take to make sure that you’re entering a residency and not just a Portuguese family's apartment building. With the title whose translation means, “House of Tales” you'll find yourself wanting to share the beauty of its existence.
The arts and residency hotel is more than just a place to stay. It’s an intimate gathering space for not just artists but all creatives who are drawn to nomadia and looking to embrace all that Porto has to offer. The space is truly innovative with their minimalistic yet extremely detailed interior design. The exposed concrete walls, winding staircases and spacious room design (there are only six apartments in the hotel, two on each floor) have you feeling like you’ve entered another world.
The residency is extremely welcoming, opening the front door each time you come in and personally explaining some of their favorite spots around the city, sharing what might interest you based on your preferences.
Not just that but there is a strong focus on sustainability as natural light occupies the rooms all day long that goes as far as the hotel using solar panels.
The garden in the back area is the perfect spot to peacefully relax, take in the sun or catch up on some reading.
Of course, this can be done after their delicious breakfast where you’ll want to spend all morning dining on the delicacies from crepes to fresh fruit and Brie to personalized omelets while smooth jazz plays in the background.
Casa Do Conto is the perfect get away for any creative who is heading to Porto for work, vacation or both. With a rich uniqueness and overwhelming authenticity, you’ll be inspired during your stay.
Rosa Et Al
When thinking of vacation accommodations, it would feel wrong to put Rosa Et Al in the category of “hotel”. It’s a quaint townhouse with kindred vibes as soon as when you walk through the door. The building hosts six elegant yet homey rooms that are easily accessible via the sunlit staircase. The townhouse exudes romantic vibes, from the key design to the veranda windows.
Rosa Et Al is part of the famed Bed and Brunch collection and their brunch is infamous throughout the city by locals and visitors alike. With artisanal vibes, you can dine on the many homemade goods they offer, made close to the source. Essentially everything they use is organic and the ingredients are locally sourced (many are grown in their lavish backyard) and it feels as if you’re having a home cooked meal.
All of the rooms have top of the line, luxury items; bathrobes, slippers and the infamous Castebel infused soaps. Created with the concept of renewing and revitalizing oneself, each room has a vintage clawfoot bathtub that was made in Portugal, reminding us of the beauty of slowing down. They also offer in-room spa services for anyone who needs it. The third floor hosts a library filled with a diverse array of books and magazines for the guests to enjoy and upon arrival, you’re gifted with a small bottle of Porto wine, welcoming you to the region in their local manner, even more.
Filled with charm and grace, you’ll wake up to the sun seeping in through your windows and realize that it’s a beautiful life we live. Rosa Et Al is here to remind you of that.
Pensão Favorita feels like an oasis in the middle of the city. Filled with green bohemian vibes and garden facing rooms, you feel as if you’ve been transported to paradise and want to elongate your stay just to spend a bit more time there. With a seamless mixture of modernity and blissful escape, the seven rooms in the main building and five overlooking the garden area, are individually and artfully designed bringing together the atmosphere as a whole.
Not only do they have fantastic accommodation but they also have a delicious hotel restaurant where you can dine all day long surrounded by peaceful ambiance.
Pensão is the ideal place to escape from the city vibes and feel as if you’re in an intimate other world.
Wine Quay Bar
Porto is often known for it’s port wines but Wine Quay Bar is here to show you that there is much more to the wine scene than that. Located directly on Rio Duoro, this gem is in one of the older buildings in the city, having been passed down from the co-founder Felipa’s family for over 100 years. The bar opened in 2012 and they’ve expanded to open a market next door where they sell the wines and goods that they serve in the restaurant. The authentic aspect about the wines that they hold is that many of them cannot be bought in large, chain stores.
With around 50 unique wines you can tell that everything was chosen with care and everyone who works there has an intense knowledge of the industry. Although wine is their main focus, they also have a delicious selection of goods to go along with it, from Quiejo de Serra (a creamy sheep cheese) to the best thinly sliced chorizo you might ever have.
The wine bar is a fantastic place to take in the views, meet new people and be openly welcomed by the owners. The locale is even that much better because it was birthed from the heart of entrepreneurs. Wine Quay Bar opened shortly after the founders first child was born and now, two businesses and two beautiful daughters later, they’ve expanded in the best way possible while still keeping the authenticity, drive and passion behind the company.
Taste Porto Food Tours
Taste Porto Food Tours is a business born out of pure passion and it’s evident why. Quitting his job in 2013, André, a Porto native, decided that he wanted to dedicate his time to something he truly loved… the food and culture of the city that he grew up in. During the food tour, you won’t only be introduced to different original Portuguese delicacies (and some with a modern twists) but you’ll also learn tenfold about the stories behind the food, the restaurants, the owners and the authenticity of it all.
While making your way through Porto, André will share an endless amount of history throughout the city while simultaneously letting you know how the food history in the city is just as prevalent. You’ll explore different locations from restaurants that were bringing a modern twist to old classics to restaurants that had been around for over 100 years. No matter where you go, André allows for space to ask questions and continuously shares insider knowledge about the city that you can only learn from a local.
The joy of this food tour is that you feel as if you’re with a lifelong friend, going around to your favorite local spots in the city. The feeling you get when you know your favorite dish and the owner of a restaurant but when someone asks you, you can’t remember the name but you know lead them exactly where it is. That’s what spending an afternoon on Taste Porto Food Tours feels like.
Sometimes when we go on vacation, we go to escape; to treat ourselves to something different. While in Porto, the place to do that is Spaso Zen, a wellness and beauty center that is there to help you relax and tune into your both your body and spirit. Not only do they offer services from body scrubs to aromatic massages but they also cater to those who long to put self-care first on a daily basis through their different classes ranging from yoga, meditation, Tai Chi and more.
Upon arrive there is a strong sentiment of personal attention with a focus on complete relaxation. You’ll easily slip away from the outside world and remember what it’s like to take care of your body from the inside out. Spaso Zen is a must while in Porto, reinforcing the importance of slowing down and becoming more in tune with the world around you.
Sienna Brown is CEO of WildSpice Magazine. She is constantly on a journey to inspire and be inspired while engaging in different methods of creation. Sienna is a photographer, writer and adventurer. Her passion for learning about others leads her towards constant exploration and practicing the art of listening as much as she can. Follow her on instagram and twitter. @siempregirando