Arrival/Check-in: Driving in Porto’s maze of one-way streets, especially in late-afternoon traffic, is a challenge that defies the best Internet mapping. But thanks to the excellent directions given by the reception desk when I called from outside the city, we drove directly there without a wrong turn. Where to put the car? “Leave it right there — we’ll take care of it.” And they did, until it appeared two days later at our departure. The lobby, where the English-speaking receptionist offered us glasses of Port as we registered, was opulent and sparkling from a complete restoration. He gave us maps of the city and circled the hotel’s location, suggesting attractions and restaurants. A bellman ushered us to a charming wood-paneled elevator, complete with an upholstered bench, and showed us to our junior suite overlooking the tree-lined square below. (30/30)
Guest Quarters: Two rooms adjoined by a wide archway were decorated in shades of white, cocoa brown and bronze, with a dramatic band of a design reminiscent of Moorish tiles continuing from the carpet to the wall at either side of the bed. A long leather-upholstered bench gave us both plenty of room to open our luggage. The furniture — two upholstered reading chairs, a wide desk, a chair and small table — was white, well lit by elegant brass cylinder lamps on long curving stems. Tall lamps on each of the large bedside stands lit the bedroom. Two marble baths were well appointed, with a large tub/shower in one, a shower in the other; bath amenities by Plantation included a sewing kit and other extras. The full mirrors were well lighted. Towels and terry robes were super-soft, as were the high-count sheets on the king-sized bed. Two full closets contained plenty of hangers, umbrellas, spare pillows and a safe. In his tour of the room, the only thing the bellman missed was how to adjust the air conditioning, but we finally figured it out. Each room had a flat-screen TV with satellite television, radio and ASDL Internet connection. (28/30)
Services/Amenities: Guests in the hotel’s 73 rooms have ample public areas for relaxing or entertaining. The intimate Bar Ceuta serves original and traditional cocktails and fine wines, a good place to sample the local Port vintages. The high-ceilinged and elegant Dona Filipa Restaurant serves a sumptuous breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, with traditional Portuguese dishes and Continental cuisine. We were there in the summer, when seating spills out into O Patio, an outdoor setting for lunch and candlelight dinners. The hotel also has a solarium and a spa whose exotic décor recalls Portugal’s centuries of rule under the Moorish caliphate. Public areas showcase striking handmade cabinet pieces by contemporary designers, most for sale. (39/40)
The Experience: Throughout, the décor blends the opulence of Portuguese Baroque, the seductive curves of Art Nouveau and the bold lines of Mid-century Moderne, highlighted with striking pieces of contemporary art, into a striking and gloriously comfortable retreat. Its location is in the center of the business district, an easy walk from the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the old city. I would certainly stay here again.
Total Score: 97/100
Hotel Infante Sagres
Praça Dona Filipa de Lencastre 62
Porto 4050-259, Portugal
tel 351 223 398 500
Even if you are not familiar with Chicago, you may already know the Wicker Park neighborhood is one of the city’s “eat like a local” destinations, especially among young professionals whose idea of local is actually quite global. After a decade of high-concept comfort food and gastro-pubs, the Tan family took over a homey space on North Avenue to mix things up with the opening of Cebu. Cebu is not just a Filipino restaurant, but one focused on Cebuano regional cooking along with its Chinese and Spanish underpinnings.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
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