Travel Matters Ltd
Portugal – The Vidago Palace in the enchanting Douro valley
For the the last 16 years I have been privileged to experience many hotels and destinations worldwide, but my true passion is still exploring hotels and destinations less known to travellers in Europe. Porto and the surrounding region is not on everyone’s bucket list, but it should be.
This area offers beautiful scenery with rolling hills and pine trees standing tall against the deep blue clear skies, wide empty roads, cascading vineyards along the calm, emerald waters of Douro Valley. The thermal water routes are regularly used by locals for many health benefits from digestive to skin problems and if you are fortunate enough to visit during the harvest festivals like I did, during the months of September and October, you will have an opportunity to see how the grapes are picked and the process of making great port. We visited Quinta do Crosto, with stunning views of the Douro Valley. It’s a small family-run vineyard. You will be met by the owner, who is very passionate about what he does and explains how everything is done by hand and the grapes are crushed by feet and the wine tastes amazing because of it.
The thermal town of Chaves with its hot springs was known since Roman times. The water of the spring reaches 73°C /163 °F (the hottest bicarbonate waters in Europe) and anyone can get one cup of hot water a day, just like I did! The Roman baths have been rediscovered along with the thermal complex used until the of the fourth century AD by Romans, believing in its health benefits.
The Vidago Palace Hotel and the sister property Pedras Salgadas belong to the thermal system of these special group of thermal springs. The Vidago Palace Hotel is a perfect base for exploring this unique region of Portugal. The beautiful palace restored to its original glory is special enough to be currently used as a film set for filming ‘Vidago Palace’ a love story from 1930s, during the months of October and November.
This truly hidden gem of Portugal is only an hour drive from Porto, easily accessible from London, just over two hours flying time with British Airways and other airlines, or other regional airports – this is a perfect mini break for either family or couple looking to unwind, recharge and explore. When I arrived at The Vidago Palace Hotel, I was transported into 1930 as the actors, actresses and film crew were in action using the entrance and the gardens of The Vidago Palace as a film set.
The Vidago Palace Hotel is positioned within a beautiful natural park with its own 18 hole golf course. The staff at the hotel will do their utmost to make their guests’ stay extra special, the service and the attention to detail is the highest I have ever seen and experienced.
Once you step in, you feel as if you have travelled back in time, but at the same time you feel a very warm welcome. Every corner of The Vidago Palace is filled with treasured furniture, beautifully decorated throughout. The original wooden staircase is a centrepiece of the hotel, it feels like you could be in Downton Abbey walking to your room or down to breakfast. It has a very special feel!
The guest rooms are beautifully furnished. A former ball room is now a very smart restaurant, with a piano playing in the background during the evenings. The breakfast room is so comfortable with cushions scattered everywhere and a very wide choice of delicious breakfasts, you will want to take time here, and soak in the beautiful details of the glass ceiling, the walls and the library filled with many books visible from the breakfast room. The spa offers many treatments using the thermal water as well as Aromatherapy Associates products. The relaxation area is filled with comfortable chairs and soothing lighting and plenty of herbal teas for the guests to relax after the treatments. The indoor pool and gym are open from 8am, perfect for taking a morning swim with lovely sauna, steam room, Turkish bath to refresh afterwards. The heated vitality pool is a nice addition with a variety of jets.
The outdoor pool has plenty of comfortable sun loungers. The bar area has lovely seating perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail or aperitif accompanied with a delicious snack.
The sister property of Pedras Salgadas is only 10 minutes’ drive away from The Vidago Palace Hotel. The hotel is located within a peaceful natural park with bicycles available for guests to hire. There is a pretty lake to walk around and the eco house accommodation is spacious, perfect for families or couples wishing to stay in a tree house. There is a spa with many unique thermal treatments as well as an outdoor pool and playground for the little ones to enjoy.
I came back refreshed and recharged after my stay at The Vidago Palace Hotel, from wine tasting to eating in a number of excellent restaurants, taking a boat trip down the Douro Valley and enjoying the spa treatments and the special ambience of The Vidago Palace Hotel. I would highly recommend this lovely mini break to anyone!
Silvia McBride travelled with Mason Rose to Portugal in October 2016 and is ready to take enquiries about this outstanding property.