I had already spent several days in Portugal on a press trip through the Douro region when, late at night on my final night in Portugal, I checked into Solar Egas Moniz, located half an hour’s drive from Porto and en route to the Douro Valley. And hey, sometimes I have to make some concessions to my ‘slow travel’ motto, for I couldn’t stay to enjoy this Local Hideaway to the fullest as I was due to fly back home the following morning. But I was determined to visit this place that had been on my wish list for so long, and I had promised Iva, its owner, that I would visit if ever I was in the neighbourhood. So I did.

It was already late at night when I arrived but I received a very warm welcome by Iva and her father, who had stayed up to open the doors of this impressive building especially for me. The next morning, this super friendly and welcoming manner was continued by one of Iva’s employees.

What is immediately obvious about this small-scale hotel is the amount of effort that went into decorating the rooms. None of them are standard, they’re all original and unique. And, also very important: the beds are super!!! The building consists of a historic part, where the rooms are somewhat classical, and a modern wing with ditto rooms, which is connected to the stately old house by a glass corridor. In addition, there’s a family room large enough for an entire family to stay the night. Kids are more than welcome here!

Breakfast is a good reflection of the personal attention and hospitality, with lots of lovely (homemade) ingredients (the chocolate cake is to die for), freshly squeezed juices and eggs prepared the way you prefer that make for a perfect start of the day. I hadn’t had such a tasty breakfast in all the previous days of my trip, and that’s saying a lot considering the amount of pampering I had received!

In the warm months of the year it is lovely to be lounging by the pool in the garden, which can be alternated nicely by an exploration of the surroundings. And the surroundings are certainly worth a proper exploration, for there’s lots to do around here for all tastes. There are over 50 Roman excavation sites for culture lovers to visit and lovers of nature can go on biking or hiking trips walk. If you’d rather visit a town, Porto is only half an hour away by car. For wine lovers it is also great, as many Portuguese wines are produced just around the corner…By the way, Solar Egas Moniz will also be able to organise a wine tasting event, accompanied by some delicious petiscos (small bites) if booked in advance. You’ll get a taste of the North Portuguese cuisine without having to leave the hotel!

Despite the fact that I couldn’t stay longer, everything about this establishment tells me that this is a unique and lovely spot. Personal attention and warmth are key words here, and this, combined with the originality of the design, is what distinguishes Solar Egas Moniz from many of the other (big) hotels in the region. Here, you feel a guest of the family, a family that goes to great lengths to make you feel comfortable and at home, while introducing you to all the joys of North Portuguese life. Throughout my trip through the Douro region as well as here, I am struck by the proud and welcoming nature of the Portuguese people. In short, the perfect DNA for a Local Hideaway!