We'd been driving along the Douro river in the north of Portugal for about an hour already, when we suddenly saw the letters of hotel Quinta Nova standing tall on the opposite flank of the valley. So we would have to cross the river, but where? It wasn’t until we reached the small town of Pinhão that we could get to the other side. It couldn’t be far now, right?
Well, driving in the Douro Valley means driving on small mountain roads where two vehicules can hardly pass by one another and trucks honk at every turn to let other drivers know they are coming. There are no crash barriers or walls to prevent someone from driving off the road and when you go down, you go down hard.
I must say that at one point, when we were driving almost on top of a mountain, my stomach turned a bit. But what a view did we get as a compensation! I’ve never seen anything like this before. Terrace after terrace, mountains filled with vineyards, and all so green! Weather in Portugal had been as bad as in the rest of Europe. It had rained up until a week before we got there.
Although the scenery was amazing I started to wonder if Quinta Nova would be worth the drive we were making. After all, we were going to Porto the next day, so spending only one night in the Douro Valley required quite the detour.
Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, our Douro valley vineyard accommodation
A warm welcome at Quinta Nova made all my doubts disappear. We’d made the right choice friving here from Coimbra before going to Porto. The peace and quiet of this place actually made us whisper for the first fifteen minutes we were there, as we didn’t want to break the calm.
After dropping off our luggage and getting a quick tour of the hotel we returned to our rooms to change. What was cool was that our room actually had two entrance doors: the main entrance door that excited in the hallway and another door through which we could immediately get outside. We had separate keys for each door and a card for the electricity in our room, which meant we could leave the air conditioning on while we were out.
Two minutes after we’d gotten back into our room someone knocked on the door. Who could that be? It were two maids coming to open up our bed. Say what!? Even better, they brought us a kind welcome note with some candy.
It was decided: I loved this place.
Because it was early evening already we just sat by the pool a while until it was time to get ready for dinner. There were clean beach towels you could use by the pool and two deck chairs. The view from the pool over the Douro valley was just amazing.
Candle light dinner
Getting ready for dinner Boyfriend and I enjoyed the spacious en suite bathroom, with two sinks, a bath with built-in shower and a separate toilet. I’m a big fan of toiletries (just love those little shampoos and body lotion) and Quinta Nova provided more than enough for the one night we would be staying.
Al freshened up we headed to the outside dining area. That’s right: the hotel’s kitchen is located inside the building, but dining happens outside on the patio. By candlelight, of course. Could it get even more romantic?
The girl serving us was really friendly and the food was delicious.
- a welcome of the chef: melon with ham and risolli
- a special soup made out of tiny bits of tomato with onions and… an egg! The egg was the surprise of this dish and really finished it
- pig’s cheek with polenta (made out of corn, milk, butter, and onions)
- a little something to make everything go down a bit smoother: cold tea made from vine leafs!
- a surprise dessert: chocolate and caramel cake
Everything tasted amazing and the portions were just right. Well, I do have to say we were pretty full at the end, but in a good way.
Enough ways to relax
After dinner, I decided to work a bit while Boyfriend went online as well and we were happy to find out that Wi-Fi worked everywhere at Quinta Nova. Not only that but one of the many living rooms also had a desk with a desktop computer that had internet access and was free to use. In some of the other lounge areas (yes, there were many) you could find a bar, a television, magazines, books, information about the region…
There was even a playroom for kids.
You now may think that this was a huge hotel, but it actually isn’t. There are only 11 rooms, all with a fantastic view over the vineyards and the Douro valley. I actually didn’t feel like I was staying in a hotel, but more like I was invited into someone’s home. Even more so when the bugs (I’m guessing you can’t get past those with all the vineyards) made us flee inside and we relaxed in one of the comfi sofas.
After that, I had another cup of tea in our room and was surprised to find that it was really good. Boyfriend had made a coffee in our room earlier that day and found that to be good as well.
After a good night’s sleep, it was time for my favorite meal of the day: breakfast. Breakfast is held in two adjourning rooms upstairs and consists of sweet and hearty things. Especially the two pasteis de nata and freshly squeezed orange juice were a nice treat.
A hotel… and so much more
Quinta Nova also offers wine tastings and a wine tour. For those who want to follow one of the walking routes through the vineyard, there's a possibility to take a picnic.
Address: 5085-222 Covas do Douro
Tel.: +351 254 730 430
We were offered a complimentary night at Quinta Nova by the Porto Convention Bureau. This doesn't change the fact that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.