Renowned for its colorful architecture, exquisite restaurants, and burgeoning creative scene, the sea-hugging city of Porto has long enticed travelers away from Portugal’s capital with its innumerable charms. And with the early May opening of Vila Foz Hotel & Spa, the city cements its reputation as a veritable design destination. Set on one of the finest avenues in the district of Foz, the 68-room hotel embodies an intimate, contemporary boutique experience housed within the palatial splendor of a 19th-century manor, with a visual concept created by acclaimed Madeiran designer Nini Andrade Silva. Far from being a museum to aesthetics however, the historic structure offers a succulent and embracing world of haute cuisine dining, and sublime rejuvenation courtesy of a spectacular spa and wellness area.
Porto-based architecture firm Miguel Cardoso Arquitecto was responsible for the painstaking restoration of the grand villa, as well as the creation of the new-build extension. Preserving the historical essence of the property was key to the overall concept, and the architects have retained original architectural features while offsetting them with fresh details, materials, finishes, and textures that still speak to its refined heritage. The new-build elements of the hotel are defined by a volume of simple lines that provide the perfect counterpart to the historic structure’s gold-corniced elegance, while maintaining its unique flow and glamor.
Conceived by award-winning artist and visionary Nini Andrade Silva, Vila Foz’s innovative interior design marries classical romanticism with the designer’s unique brand of “ninimalism”, with clean, organic forms in a contemporary context. Using a varied and inspired material selection that includes technical stone, hydraulic mosaic, and bronze, Silva has transformed the 19th-century manor house into a beacon of warmth and intimacy. The immensity of the grand, austere spaces at Vila Foz has been softened through rich decorative elements and the liberal use of patterns, warm colors, flowing lines, and soft finishes, creating an unexpected harmony that captures both Old World opulence and the zeitgeist of modern-day Porto.
However, it is in the 68 rooms and suites that the full force of Silva’s creative vision is manifested—resulting in boldly modern spaces that emulate the roiling ocean in undulating shapes and a palette of tourmaline greens and earthy browns. Ranging from 28 to 48 square meters, the guestrooms are an authentic expression of Silva’s design DNA, from the bespoke screen-printed rugs to the custom designed furniture. Tactile materials such as natural wood and stone contrast beautifully with mirror and glass, all highlighted by meticulously placed lighting that lends rooms an air of majesty and luxurious comfort. The elegant bathrooms in travertine and gold are a lesson in refined luxury, while Codage amenities are sure to upgrade everyday ablutions.
Given its location in Portugal’s culinary capital, it comes as no surprise that the gastronomic concept at Vila Foz is a superlative affair. Helmed by executive chef Arnaldo Azevedo, Vila Foz’s eponymous fine dining restaurant serves up expertly crafted seasonal cuisine with a focus on seafood in the stately surroundings of the manor house. Guests wishing for a more informal dining experience will find a cozy and relaxed atmosphere at Flor de Lis, which offers sophisticated regional dishes. Nourishment for the soul, on the other hand, is provided by Vila Foz’s spa, a peaceful sanctuary of therapy rooms, a Turkish bath and sauna, an indoor pool, and an outdoor relaxation area surrounded by lush, landscaped gardens. Offering an extensive selection of traditional and holistic treatments using innovative Maison Codage Paris and Elemental Herbology products, the spa is perfectly placed to restore and balance the senses of even the most overwrought of travelers.
Overlooking the wild Atlantic Ocean, Porto’s affluent Foz do Douro neighborhood is known for its sublime restaurants and chic boutiques, as well as the magnificent 17th-century Castelo do Queijo fortress. Culture vultures are well served by the nearby Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, a cultural institution designed by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. The country’s largest urban garden, The City Park, is just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, and boasts 10 miles of trails, lakes, rich and diverse fauna and flora, and direct access to the beach.