After an amazing 4 nights in Lisbon and getting a whiff of the Portuguese flair, I will be headed to Porto. Porto is Portugal second-largest city and the other must-visit besides Lisbon. It is also the home of port and I am certainly gonna sip some port wines when I am here as well as to learn about it. However, I will be staying in Vila Nova de Gaia or Gaia. The place can be said as a tale of two cities. Gaia and Porto are located right next to each other and only separated by the Douro River. This makes it perfect for you to check out two cities at a time. The best Hilton properties at this moment got to be the sparkling new Hilton Porto Gaia which is located in a refurbished wine cellar and have only recently opened last year. You got to commend a hotel that open right in the middle of a pandemic! Let’s just say that the hotel exceeds all my expectations.
Booking Process & Pre Arrival
I was informed via the app that I was pre-upgraded to a King One Bedroom Suite in advance. This represents a mind-blowing 9 tier upgrade from the base level room that I book. This is 1 out of the 3 One Bedroom Suites that they have in the hotel. It is sure nice to stay during low occupancy. My nightly rate was around 213.50 SGD including taxes. This was brought down by utilising my Citi Prestige 4th-night free benefit to 162 SGD a night, a much softer blow on the wallet. There is actually a good number of suites at this hotel so do expect pretty good upgrade opportunities for Diamond members. You should be able to get one of the duplex suites since there is a huge number of them. Fabiana is amazing and a gem, she is what every hotel needs. I have liaised with her beforehand to book my COVID test. The hotel was prompt and provided me with information before my stay in terms of entry regulations and the hotel offering then. Hotel Porto Gaia features 194 guest rooms and suites spread across 12 categories. You can find the breakdown below. There is a limited amount of rooms with a bathtub here so do make sure to request one if you really want it. I felt that with the amazing spa facilities and indoor pool that they have, it is unlikely that you will find a bathtub useful in the room
|Rooms||Executive Lounge Access||Bathtub||Room Size||No.of Rooms|
|Guest with River View||No||No||38 Sqm||1|
|King Accessible Guest Room||No||No||38 Sqm||3|
|King Deluxe||No||No||34 Sqm||17|
|Deluxe with River View||No||No||37 Sqm||8|
|Junior Suite||Yes||No||50 Sqm||6|
|Junior Suite with River View||Yes||Yes||59 Sqm||1|
|Duplex Suite||Yes||No||54 Sqm||41|
|One Bedroom Suite||Yes||Maybe||52 Sqm||3|
|One Bedroom Suite with River View||Yes||Yes||58 Sqm||1|
|Duplex Deluxe Suite||Yes||No||78 Sqm||2|
It was a fairly quick drive from the Gaia train station. It is within walking distance but perhaps with baggage, it might not be such a good idea. The drive took one huge detour but I still arrive shortly around 12 noon. Banbara who was checking me in was a gem and there is no wait when I arrived given how low occupancy the hotel is running at.
Check-in was smooth and prompt, I was informed that I will really like the suite that they assigned me. I was also given all the information and confirmed for the COVID-19 Swab test that they have arranged for me on the 25th. Hilton Porto Gaia lobby looks so chic and inviting. It felt so cosy with the warm lighting and dark tones. This hotel is exactly up my alley.
King One Bedroom Suite
I was assigned suite 308 on level 3 which is just a short walk away from the corridor. Level 3 is the executive floor as well and the executive lounge is just around the corner. Sadly, it is currently closed due to low occupancy. Thank you, Fabiana for assigning this amazing suite to me. The One Bedroom Suite measures 52 Sqm in size and it is mainly in a long rectangular configuration. Upon entering there is a short entranceway. I love the vibes. Immediately after entering you can find the half bath to the right. I certainly appreciate having a half bath in my suite which is super useful especially when you are having guests over.
Check out this lovely suite. By the entrance, you can also find a small wardrobe here which is really useful during this season. I appreciate having some hooks or a small wardrobe near the entrance, especially on this side of the world where you can keep some outerwear and stuff to grab just before leaving.
The minibar is just next to it. You can find two bottles of water provided alongside a kettle and some packaged tea. You can also find a proper coffee machine here which is very much appreciated. The fridge below is kept empty given the current climate. Water are not being replenished daily although they are always available upon request.
The living room and the bedroom are roughly split into two equal half in a squarish shape. It’s so cosy and so chic. I really love the dark cool tones finishes and the furniture matches the place so well. You have a green couch that could sit 2-3 pax easily and a single-seater by the side. It surrounds a coffee table. You can also find some outlets by the couch if you do wish to work here or perhaps even connect your laptop to the TV.
The TV was high definition and comes with plenty of cable TV channels. One of the best collections that I have seen during this Europe trip. The movie channels are really good for binge-watching. The TV was one of the two in the suite and a replica can be found directly behind for the bedroom. I am surprised that they didn’t design the mounting in a way where it could be swirled to face either the bedroom or the living room. They could save one TV for every suite. You can find a luggage rack on the side.
The suite doesn’t have much of a view and simply faces the interior courtyard.
The bedroom and living room are separated by folding doors on both sides and you can find the bed in the middle of the area with walking space on either side. The plush king size bed is extremely comfy and I love how the mattress offers great back support. You can find nightstands on both sides of the bed and I am glad to see that multiple outlets can be easily found and there are even USB chargers. This is what hotels in the 21st century should be like!
Opposite the bed, you can find a TV mounted on the platform and below it, there are some sort of a platform. This kind of act as the working desk in the room. It is equipped with an armchair that provides decent back support for a short period of work. I realised that there are no power outlets to be found by the desk and this can’t be right. This is one of the two-issue that I have with the room. The wifi was easy to connect and fast. It would be good if they have designed an HDMI port by the side which will be useful for connecting your laptop to stream shows. Later in the evening, Fabiana arrange for a lovely welcome amenity and a handwritten personalised note! Very nice!
Behind the bed, you can find the wardrobe area and there is a total of 3 spacious ones. It is good for all lengths of stay. It is equipped with an ironing kit, bathrobes, bath slippers, a safe and plenty of hangers. The hotel is so new that it still had a faint paint scent in the wardrobe. The hairdryer is also found in the wardrobe and oh man this is the other very disappointing aspect of the room. A press and hold hairdryer. I can’t believe that I am seeing this here.
The bathroom is another highlight of the suite or perhaps the most spectacular part. Check out the finishes. The bathroom is super spacious with that colour theme and that circular double sink. It’s my cup of tea. The bathroom comes with his and her sinks and amenities from Crabtree and Evelyn are provided.
The toilet and standing shower are located in separate rooms. I love the standing shower area and got one of the best showers I had in a hotel. This bathroom certainly ranked among the top 3 in my list or even the number 1, I can’t remember when was the last time I had such an amazing shower. It is super spacious and to put it in perspective, 6 grown-ass people could shower together at the same time. Water pressure and temperature from the rainforest shower and handheld shower were marvellous. 100 marks!
The gym scored top points. It is located on the ground floor. This got to be one of the best gyms that I have seen. You can find all sorts of equipment and they are all sparkling new given how young the hotel is.
They even have a pilates room! You do not have to make reservations or anything. Towels and water can be found in the gym. Very lovely! It is as good as any professional gym.
Spa & Pool
The spa and indoor pool are one of the strongest points of the hotel and it is located in the basement. They are open from 9.30am to 8.30pm. It is super gorgeous. The staff are very courteous and polite.
I will let the pictures do the rest of the speaking but you can find a steam room, sauna, indoor pool and heated jacuzzi. It is very nice and relaxing. Look at how gorgeous this is.
The spa treatments and massages look very well priced as well for a 5 star hotel but sadly I did not manage to get a slot to try them out given the reduced hours during the holidays.
The lounge is currently shifted to the restaurant bar due to low occupancy and is open from 7am to 8pm and evening cocktails start from 5pm to 7pm. Outside of the hour, you have all-day drinks. The bar space is super nice and perfect for the replacement lounge to be held here as well.
Throughout the day you have all day non-alcoholic drinks and guests can help themself to juices, water, coffee, tea and soft drinks. They do a mean cup of iced coffee.
In the evening you have alcoholic drinks as well as canapes. You can find wine, which is from the Douro region of course. Beers, Spirits like Gin and Whisky with simple mixers and soft drinks. The staff got me some port as well after requesting it!
Canapes wise, the food contains some salad, fruits and chips. It wasn’t that great. It does change day to day but mostly cold items. It is great for pre-dinner drinks but this is definitely not a dinner replacement.
Breakfast at Composto Restaurant & Bar
Breakfast is served at the hotel restaurant, Composto Restaurant & Bar. Breakfast service starts from 7am to 10.30am on weekdays and till 11am on weekends. I was politely welcomed in and the service was excellent everyday of my stay. After all the hotel had such low occupancy. As mentioned earlier, the restaurant is comfortable and relaxing. It looks so beautiful, I love the decor and finishes of this place. I was shown to my seat and drinks orders were taken. Refills are proactively offered and dishes are cleared frequently. You can tell that the staff here takes a genuine interest and help guests. What a lovely environment to start your day. The restaurant is so cosy and comfortable with soft mellow music in the background. I look forward to breakfast every morning. A buffet was done for breakfast and I am impressed by how they have designed it. Due to the current hygiene concerns, they have these personalised thongs for every guest and you can use these to pick up items from the buffet line. This ensures that all guest have their own tongs and you are not in contact with common utensils that others have touched previously. I really like this concept. You have a small buffet line of hot dishes consisting of, mushrooms, sausages, bacon and grilled tomatoes. I love their sausages.
You also have some cold cuts and cheese. A great selection of cut fruits and whole fruits.
In the middle, you can find the drinks counter. While hot drinks are ordered from the staff, there are some freshly squeezed juices and water here. They are delicious and I look forward to a glass of their orange juice every morning! They also have this red fruit juice that is very good as well!
The pastries are another highlight and you have plenty of choices from the typical croissants to baguettes and local bakes. Their pastel de nata is pretty good too. It’s complemented by numerous spreads and everything looks so good. Here there are continental options like granola and cereals if you want something lighter.
Last but not least, the buffet is complemented by a live cooking station where you can order freshly cooked pasta and eggs however you like.
This is one breakfast that you should wake up for and shouldn’t miss!
COVID-19 Testing Experience in Porto
Given that I had to undertake a COVID-19 test before heading to my next destination, Spain, I reach out to the hotel in advance to get some information on what it will be like. Fabiana was a gem and super helpful. I was worried given that it is due on Christmas but she still managed to arrange a swab for me at the hotel with an external provider. Prices were fair too and after my huge scare in Paris, I will rather opt for the swabbers to come to me rather than head to a swab site if the prices are not too drastically different. All I need is an antigen or ART test and it costs EUR 25. We just did the test by the lobby. It was professional and they had everything on hand even a mini printer. We went thru a quick registration to fill up our details, got the swab and the results come via email once the test is done.
I lucked out and stayed at the hotel where it is really quiet during the festive period! This is by far the best hotel that I have stayed at during this trip and how new the hotel is only makes things better since everything is in tip-top condition. There is nothing to find fault with besides the two things that I have highlighted previously. You simply can’t call yourself 5 stars while providing a press and hold type of hairdryer. The location while amazing does not have a convenience store or supermarket nearby and this is one limitation. They could have a partnership with the wholesaler nearby or have a mini-mart on site at cost or a slight mark up. Amazing property and this might one of the best Hilton that I have stayed in. It is one that if I’m living in Porto I will visit frequently for a staycay. It’s that good that with some soft product upgrade, I can’t see why this can’t be a Conrad or Waldorf! Given its roots of being retrofitted from wine cellar, it will be nice if they could bring in some port experiences for in-house guests or proactively offer some port in the lounge.