‘Enchanting’ is the word that is often used to describe the Douro valley. Named for the river Douro – the lifeblood for the people along it  – that drains into the Atlantic Ocean at Porto: in the north of Portugal. This is where beautiful routes will take you through charming villages where time has stood still. Meandering along the river, the magnificent panoramas are a constant surprise. But the many vineyards, situated along the sloping hills next to the river, are the real eye-catchers in this landscape..…as far as the eye can see. They are owned by  the most wonderful wine estates and it is no wonder that this area not only produces the greatest wines but also some incredible port wines. It was only natural that I should stay at one of the wine estates. But there are so many to choose from, where to go?!

I came across Quinta do Vallado, one of the oldest (est. 1716) and most famous Quintas in the Douro valley. This family owned business is very innovative and is  constantly aiming to stay ahead of its time with respect to production process and marketing. They opened a completely renovated and state of the art estate in 2009, thus setting a trend in the region.  This made me curious, for this exciting combination of old and new was also introduced into Quinta do Vallado’s wine hotel. The old Quinta already had sleeping  facilities since 2005, five rooms, to be exact, but in 2012 a completely new part with another eight rooms was added under architectural design. A wine hotel 2.0 was born.

Staying here truly is an experience, and one that I warmly recommend. First of all, the rooms are stunning, spacious and very comfortable. I stayed in the new part of the hotel, situated in a sleek and modern slate (from the area)  building. All rooms are tastefully designed, as are the common rooms. For instance, the large living room with lazy sofas, beautiful designer chairs and several fire places is very pleasant for chillier days. But you can also retire to the library. And should you prefer authenticity to modern design, I suggest booking a room in the next door older property, where you will find five gorgeous classic rooms  and a common living room. All rooms come with a complimentary bowl of fresh fruit and a bottle of wine! Speaking of wine…and obviously, this is for wine lovers only (otherwise, you’re in the wrong place), it is delicious and very reasonably priced! Room prices include a guided tour through the intriguing wine cellars of the Quinta and a lovely fresh breakfast. And you should really have dinner here as well! This consists of a daily menu, posted on the bulletin board at the reception desk (don’t forget to book a table in advance), served with accompanying house wines (included in the menu price). The weather was nice when I was there, so I was able to enjoy dinner on the lovely terrace with its view of the sloping hills and the vineyards.

And then there are many things one can do at Quinta do Vallado…for instance, plunge into the lovely swimming pool with stunning view, after which it is lovely to settle down on one of the sunbeds. You can go fishing or borrow a bicycle and explore the surroundings, something that can also do be done by canoe or boat: after all, the Douro river flows right in front of the hotel. But above all, this is the perfect place for toasting the good life!

Do you want to find out more about the diversity of Portugal? Read my blog ‘Portugal – Inside and Out’!

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