Watching the sun set over Porto from The Yeatman hotel
My first time on an aeroplane was as a 16 year old on a Monarch Airlines flight to Crete for a family holiday. So I felt it fitting when I joined Monarch’s debut flight
to Porto, one of Europe’s most famous wine capitals. And as a classic overpacker, I greatly appreciated Monarch’s two-item hand-luggage allowance – which you so rarely get with budget airlines. Then I sat back and relaxed on the two-and-a-half hour flight.
We arrived with the Portuguese sun shining down on us, and after the early morning flight I was ravenous. We drove straight to the DOC restaurant in Folgosa, in the heart of the Douro Valley, where we took in the incredible views from a wooden deck by the river’s edge surrounded by the vineyards.
Once we had enjoyed a feast of grilled octopus, which was out of this world, and a rack of lamb, we set off by boat down the Douro river, sipping on what would be the first of many glasses of port.
Our destination was The Vintage House Hotel. This was originally accessible only by boat, and although you can now arrive by car or train, the riverside approach really gives it the wow factor that makes a holiday special.
Built in the 18th century as the home and wine warehouse for the Taylor’s Port family, it boasts a rich history. Following a recent refurbishment, the hotel has 50 rooms, including four new suites with private balconies, and picturesque river views.
One of the luxury guest rooms in the Vintage House Hotel
From here, we set off to the nearby Croft Port vineyard, which had yet more stunning vistas.
We sampled a range of wines, but the outstanding one for me was Croft Pink – the first pink port – which is perfect in cocktails or delicious simply sipped alone.
The hotel’s Rabelo Restaurant presented us with a mouthwatering choice of traditional regional specialities, including veal and duck. These, paired with a superb selection of Douro table wines and ports, made this another divine meal. The treats just kept on coming.
Raising a toast with a glass of Croft
The following day we got up early to catch the train to Porto. We were lucky enough to see the most incredible rainbow across the valley as we sped through the vineyards.
We checked into The Yeatman in the heart of Porto, which has some of the best views of the city from the private terraces of each room.
It is a truly luxurious place to stay, with three acres of private gardens and indoor and outdoor infinity pools to relax in. The spa is also definitely worth experiencing – the treatments are based around natural ingredients inspired by the surrounding vineyards and deep-red wines full of antioxidants.
Just across the cobbled road outside the hotel are the Taylor’s Port cellars. During a tour, we learned all about the history of port and the complex process involved in producing it.
And, of course, the experience wouldn’t have been complete without sampling a few varieties.
To top off our trip, we dined at The Yeatman’s restaurant, the only restaurant in Porto that holds two Michelin stars. It serves truly exceptional dishes based on classic Portuguese flavours with modern twists.
Paired with wine selected by the hotel’s experts, it really was a treat for all the senses and the perfect end to our time in the area.
Now back home, no meal seems complete without a glass of port to end it. My newfound love of Porto’s most famous produce is just one of the lasting memories from this trip.
Monarch offers two-night city break holidays at The Yeatman from £339 per person. Book at monarchagents.co.uk. Double rooms at The Vintage House Hotel (vintagehousehotel.com/en, +351 254 730 230) start from 120 euros, including breakfast.