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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral