There’s very little better than staying in a brand new five star hotel in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Except if you’re one of the first guests staying at the brand new five star hotel in a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you see it before everyone else. That’s better.
Six Senses Douro Valley is the latest hotel from the seemingly ever-expanding Six Senses brand and it’s the first Six Senses resort in Europe (the others are in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Oman, and the Maldives) which alone makes this hotel pretty unique.
We arrived at Porto Airport after a horrendously early flight from London and drove the hour and a half to Douro Valley; the breathtakingly picturesque wine region where acres and acres of vineyards line the hills perfectly.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the brand new just opened Six Senses Douro Valley. Come, have a look.
This was our bedroom for our flying two day visit. Spacious and earthy with large windows to let in the morning sun and a wooden terrace with views across the river, perfect for a bit of Port sipping in the balmy evenings. The bed was huge and so soft that it’s the kind of bed I could easily have wrapped myself up in and stayed there all day… had there not been wine tasting and sunbathing to do. So I hopped out. I love the long vanity area and the his and her sinks, and a really cute touch is the locally made bottles for shampoo, shower gel and lotion – a million times better than standard branded toiletries found in most hotels.
After we arrived and settled in, we took ourselves off to the swimming pool. The swimming pool is designed to be a similar colour to the nearby river and looks wise it trumps every hotel pool I’ve ever been in. Isn’t it beautiful?
And the only thing better than a pool on a scorching summer’s day is a pool bar, which of course Six Senses Douro Valley has. While lounging by the pool under the blazing heat of the sun I enjoyed a Gardener’s Choice cocktail which couldn’t have been more perfect, and here’s why –
- It’s a crushed ice cocktail, ideal for cooling down in the heat
- It is made with mint from the organic garden, thus the name
- When the sun has set and the air a little cooler, Gardener’s Choice also comes as a regular cocktail minus the crushed ice
The food in the restaurant is such high quality and don’t even get me started on breakfast. Detox juices, freshly baked bread, PORTUGUESE CUSTARD TARTS, pastries, eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, waffles, fruit, cereal, and the piece de resistance, a cold room housing only cold meats and cheese where guests can saunter in and help themselves. Brilliant.
As with all the Six Senses properties the aim of the game is wellness and embracing the local area, and at Six Senses Douro Valley you don’t even need to have a treatment in their 24,000 square foot spa or enjoy a morning yoga session on the yoga platform (although I recommend you do) to experience the wellness Six Senses is known for. Just being on the property surrounded by vineyards as far as the eye can see, lying by the pool or taking a walk in the forest is enough to rejuvenate, decrease the stress levels and recharge the batteries. The hotel is a calm and peaceful place and I don’t know what their secret is, perhaps a combination of things, but I’d never felt more relaxed or looked after.
Designed by New York based design company Clodagh, the decor is predominantly very natural and earthy. The long wooden sharing tables, organic garden and the tree trunk pepper grinders and napkin holders are rustic touches which I imagine add to the overall calmness of the place. The Wine Library (more on this piece of heaven later as well as the bar) has touches of Firmdale’s distinct decor mixed with a little of Ace Hotel’s style but all the while being very true to the region and Six Senses as a brand.
Three of the top four wines in the world as voted for by Wine Spectator are from the Douro region making this area king of the castle when it comes to wine. As I said, one of Six Senses’ traits is embracing the local area and connecting with it so as you can imagine Six Senses Douro Valley is the five star luxury hotspot for all things wine. As mentioned, they have a Wine Library but also nightly wine tastings, wine based spa treatments, a programme where guests can blend their own bottle of wine, 750 types of wine, the list is endless and if you’re a wine lover, a wine connoisseur, someone looking to discover what’s beyond Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir or someone who doesn’t know their sweet wine from the dry, it doesn’t matter, Six Senses Douro Valley is for you.
The staff are softly spoken, they’re a credit to the hotel and so genuinely sweet I could happily have sat in their presence for hours. Staff make a hotel and at Six Senses Douro Valley each of their personalities is evident which is so important because no one wants to go on holiday and talk to boring people, or worse, people who don’t talk at all. Having worked in hotels I know the value of a guest complimenting a member of staff by name but I can hand on heart not find a bad thing about anyone working there and to compliment them all by name would be a long list and not a hugely interesting read.
Something that struck me about Douro Valley is how green it is. I’m from Ireland so there must be bucket loads of greens of all shades for me to have noticed, which there was, and not only did the vineyards on the hills provide an exceptional amount of green but so too did the vast onsite organic garden (the herbs here put mine to shame, complete shame) as well as the plants winding their way through the iron steps. I always thought a great backdrop to a hot holiday had to be beach, islands and the tropics but I was so wrong.
I’m in love.
The hotel officially opened on 15th July and you need to go. You need to go for the beauty of the Douro, the hospitality, the wine, the guaranteed rejuvenation and to experience the Six Senses way. Don’t even think about it, just go and thank me later.