B&B and Beyond: Four rooms, Porto - Discreet elegance in Portugal’s lovely second city

This converted townhouse offers design fans a serene and stylish stay in Porto’s old fishermen’s district, says Katie Monk

Anyone with an appreciation of design and architecture will be in their element at Four Rooms, a converted 19th-century townhouse entirely reconstructed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. Tucked away on a quiet residential street in Porto’s former fishermen’s district of Foz, its discreet, unmarked exterior conceals a modern and immaculately designed space inside.

Natural materials – marble, wood, granite – dominate, and the decor is a relaxing palette of soft greys, whites and lilac. After the hustle and bustle of central Porto, Four Rooms is a calm, homely and visually gratifying place to come back to.

The bed

As the name suggests, there are four separate suites. Upstairs in the main house are two double rooms with good-sized bathrooms. At the back is a separate Garden Loft, with double bed, small living area, shower room, floor-to-ceiling glass doors, a private entrance and courtyard. Across the road, in a converted charcoal house, is the stunning Sky Loft apartment.

The comfortable beds are made up with Egyptian cotton bedlinen, Portuguese wool blankets and Gant cushions, with toiletries by Clarins. Each room has an iPod dock and the lofts have wall-mounted 27-inch Apple iMacs for watching TV and DVDs, as well as Lavazza coffee machines. Macaroons are left by the bedside each day and guests can also help themselves to complimentary homemade cake, water and bottled beer.

The hosts

Co-owner Caterina runs the guesthouse and is originally from Foz. She studied graphic design in Porto, so is well placed to tell you about some of Porto’s other architectural and design gems, of which there are many. Another equally friendly and professional Caterina helps out, and both speak fluent English. They have connections with all the best places around town and organise surprise treats for guests, such as booking the best table at a local restaurant or organising a welcome drink.

The breakfast

As with everything here, great care is taken with presentation at breakfast. Food is served on small white plates on a silver tray, either in the conservatory or in the main house. A former Relais & Chateaux chef, Pedro Lemos, is in charge of catering, and many of the ingredients are organic and change daily. I had a buffet of cereals and cheeses, followed by fresh rolls and strawberry jam, natural yoghurt with berry compote, a mozzarella omelette, a selection of melon and two little cakes. Tea arrived in a beautiful carafe and coffee was of the highest quality.

The weekend

Foz is very much a local’s town. Perched above the mouth of the Douro river and Atlantic ocean, it has a far more relaxed feel than central Porto. You could happily spend hours wandering its narrow streets, browsing the antique and design shops, or sinking sundowners at one of the many beach bars.

Well-marked bike trails run along the coast, while Portugal’s largest urban park and several blue-flag beaches are close by (porto-tourism.com). Surfers will find waves at the neighbouring town of Matosinhos, or better swell further south. The old-fashioned No 1 tram snakes its way along the waterfront from Foz in to central Porto, from where you can explore the Unesco World Heritage historic centre on foot.

The Fundacao de Serralves (00 351 226 156 500; serralves.pt) and its contemporary art museum, designed by another Porto-based Pritzker prize-winner Alvaro Siza Vieira, is a short walk from Four Rooms; along the way you can see other examples of Souto de Moura’s work. The geometric Casa da Musica (00 351 220 120 220; www.casadamusica.com) by Rem Koolhaas is also nearby and stages a varied programme of concerts and events.

Of course, no trip to Porto would be complete without a visit to one of the famous lodges across the  river to sample some port wine.  Taylor’s and Graham’s are good options. The guesthouse can also arrange bespoke tours of the area by boat, car or train.

The pit stop

There are many excellent places to eat in Foz. The fantastic Casa de Pasto da Palmeira (00 351 226 168 244) is just around the corner on the riverfront and serves tapas-style dishes. Sushi fans should head to Shis (00 351 226 189 593; shisrestaurante.com) or Ichiban (00 351 226 186 111; ichiban.pt). Across the river is Porto’s only Michelin-starred restaurant at the wine-themed Yeatman hotel (00 351 220 133 100;  the-yeatman-hotel.com).

The essentials

Four Rooms, 1015 Rua do Padre Luis Cabral, Porto, Portugal (00 351 929 190 406; 4rooms.org). Doubles start at €88 (£75), including breakfast.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Recruitment Genius: Processing Partner

    £15000 - £19200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Processing Partner is require...

    Recruitment Genius: PPC Manager - SW London

    £34000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist travel agent ba...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower