Standing proudly above the Douro river on the Vila Nova de Gaia side of Porto, The 5 star Yeatman Hotel has become a Porto landmark in a very short space of time. Quite fitting when you consider it is owned by the Fladgate Partnership, the British family dynasty that has been producing Port wine since 1692 and arguably made Porto what it is today.
This is a family whose threads are woven into the very fabric of Porto. The legendary Port brands of Taylor’s, Croft, Fonseca, Wiese & Krohn, the UNESCO vineyards of the Douro Valley, three luxury hotels, Port wine cellar tours, Porto’s first ever river taxi service and an ambitious €100 million investment to transform Gaia’s old Port warehouses into The World of Wine, a major tourist attraction.
With such illustriously deep pockets and a refreshing approach to cutting through red tape and getting things done, it’s no wonder the City might see Fladgate as its tourist cavalry.
The Yeatman is a perfect example. An unused hilltop for years, Fladgate constructed the lavish luxury hotel in just 20 months and this crown jewel completes a portfolio of impressive Fladgate properties; Hotel Infante Sagres in Porto’s city centre and The Vintage House up amongst the vines of the Douro Valley.
The Yeatman is not just named after family founder Morgan Yeatman, but as a fitting homage to Porto’s wine heritage. Each guestroom is named and themed after a local wine producer, corridor wall murals depict Porto’s history and winemaking traditions and the cellars hold over 27,000 bottles of quality Portuguese wines. Even the outdoor infinity pool is shaped like upturned decanter.
It is unequivocally a wine hotel.
But make no mistake, this is not just a hotel for lovers of the vine. It is an impressive five-star hotel on every level. All 83 rooms are huge spaces whether you take an entry level Executive room or a suite and each has large private balconies providing jaw-dropping views across the Douro to the pastel coloured houses of Porto’s old town and the myriad twisty medieval streets behind. The king beds have high thread count linen, and Caudalie Vinothérapie amenities stock the luxury marble bathrooms.
Finding myself with some free time, I had spent the morning next door touring the Taylor’s Port wine cellar which proved to be an engaging couple of hours made all the more memorable with a Port tasting included at the end. if you have time for lunch, the Barão Fladgate restaurant is delightful. Peacocks strut around this beautifully restored terrace offering up, yet again, stunning views of Porto’s historic centre.
I had the culinary delights of 2 Michelin star chef Ricardo Costa to look forward to for dinner, but first up was a visit to The Yeatman’s Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa for a spot of wellbeing. Another huge space with a sweeping panorama of Porto from floor to ceiling windows there is enough wellness here to ensure your ying and yang would be aligned for perpetuity. The Roman bath beckoned first, and I couldn’t help but feel gladiatorial as I bathed and then laid out Emperor-like on a nearby marble slab. A hammam, sauna and steam followed before finally passing out under my vinotherapist’s signature massage.
Dick’s Bar was doing good business by the time I made it back downstairs. Named after another member of the Yeatman family it’s a very civilized place to enjoy a good drink, which in my case was a port of course, before sampling Costa’s ten-course tasting menu. Having said that, for those looking for a more relaxed evening, the hotel’s Orangerie restaurant offers a la carte dining for lunch and dinner.
However, the Gastronomic Restaurant has held a Michelin star since 2011 and 2 stars since 2017. It is a fine dining celebration of traditional Portuguese flavours delivered with a contemporary twist. For me, some notable dishes were roasted John Dory with leek and pata negra, a quite sublime Serra cheese ravioli with celery cream and mushrooms and a melt in your mouth veal tenderloin with bone marrow. The blueberry with mascarpone cheese ice cream was nothing short of genius. It was unseasonably cold to eat out on the terrace, but behind the glass, the views of an illuminated Porto across the river were sensational.
The Yeatman may well hold a lofty position on the south bank of the Douro, and I can well imagine other more lowly hoteliers gazing enviously over at it. But this is a property built with love and responsibility for the environment too. Solar panels heat all the water, rain harvesting irrigates the manicured gardens, and biodegradable waste from the kitchens is treated and transformed into fertilizer.
The Yeatman is without a doubt, one of Portugal’s finest luxury hotels. A prime example of how to give something back to a city that helped its owners prosper in the first place.
Porto is on a comeback and I think messers Taylor, Fladgate and Yeatman would wholeheartedly approve.
Gastronomic images (c) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about The Yeatman Hotel
The Yeatman Hotel, Rua do Choupelo, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
T: +351 22 013 3100
Rooms from €215 with breakfast.
Gastronomic Restaurant: Chef Ricardo’s tasting menu €170 per person for the full 10-course tasting menu and 140€ per person for chef’s selection of 6 dishes.
Wine pairing: 6 dishes €65 per person Full tasting menu €75 per person
Taylor’s Port cellars tour: Adult tickets cost 15€ and include an audio guide (available in 11 languages) and the tasting of two Ports (Chip Dry & Late Bottled Vintage). For children between 8 and 17 years of age, the ticket costs 6€. It includes an audio guide, grape juice and biscuits.
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