Thursday, April 04, 2013

Staying at the oldest hotel in Porto: Grande Hotel de Paris anno 1887

I am always out looking for culture, art & architecture and some adventure when I travel, and that goes as well with the type of lodging that I will be electing. Needless to say, I sought after a stay in a unique historical hotel in Porto. Now, I must admit that the ultra modern, comfortable and with fantastic facilities hotels in the city were very tempting, but when I first laid eyes on Grande Hotel de Paris, I thought—‘This is going to be it.’

Historical and cultural, a museum hotel

The ‘Grande Hotel de Paris’ is the oldest hotel in Porto, opened in 1887 and is still dutifully serving its clientele. The founder of the hotel is the same founder of the most beautiful and oldest bookstore in Porto, the Lello bookshop or Livraria Lello & Irmao.

I noticed that the hotel’s guests were mostly from the middle-aged bracket and above, and many of them were English. I was probably one of the youngest sitting in the breakfast hall, at the least its the place where you get to meet everyone in large groups.

The hotel does seem to look like a museum, with old and interesting pieces here and there, not just period style furniture, paintings and china antiques, but very old press clippings as well, some musical instruments and time-warped telephony machines including a wooden switchboard with cables sticking out... they are scattered nicely all over the place.

The homey reception lobby

Here is an excerpt from the website:

“The charming Grande Hotel de Paris has a long and rich experience which has been preserved since 1877, the year of its foundation. Since then, installed in a palatial house typically from Oporto nineteenth century, it has preserved its charisma and authenticity, which make it a reference for culture and accommodation in the city. In addition to its historical witness, the Grand Hotel de Paris, provides excellent comfort and service in the heart of Oporto, World Heritage, ensuring a great quality-price-location value.

Directed, by different generations of recognized French, Galician and Portuguese maîtres, the Grande Hotel de Paris through three centuries kept a common denominator: the family-like hosting. Since 1999, the current owners are dedicated to a work of restoration in order to preserve the identity of the hotel and its historical character. In addition to the restructuring of the hotels key elements, dozens of authentic antique pieces from different periods have been recovered, emerging in the hotel wings, creating a friendly "hotel-museum", evoking memories of fortuitous events and famous guests (check history). The oldest hotel in Porto, living stories since 1877 under the name Grand Hotel de Paris, has its origins in 1846 at the French hotel in Rua da Fábrica, from which it inherited the location and it´s charisma.”

The hotel alley

Yup, my room is facing the alley, Rua Fabrica that connects Aliados Avenue/Liberdade Square and the night spot area. It can get very loud here at night and into the morning, except on Sundays when the nightspot is closed for the needed getting over with the nightlife hangover.

Here are my breakfasts!

The breakfast room is called elle Époque Hall and here are my breakfasts.

My second day breakfast was this. Nothing less, nothing more.

My third day breakfast was only a slice of Pao de lao (and I did not even finished it!) because I am reserving space in my tummy for a long gastronomic lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant with gorgeous views to Porto.

My Cute Room

Now my room at the Hotel Grande de Paris reminds me of the poets hotel I stayed at in Copenhagen, Denmark, First Hotel Kong Frederik. It must have been the white French windows and doors and its stately appearance.

Because the hotel is located in the smack of the city’s night spot with a location that connects the main hang out area and the Aliados Avenue/Liberdade Square, the partygoers pass by the hotel’s alley every second-minute. Moreover, the types of partygoers that passes by digresses every hour as it goes late into the night and morning. Read: the later into the night it is, the rowdier the passersby get.

On the first night, I barely slept. The noise of drunken kids laughing, screaming and arguing was just overbearing. Some of them stayed put for a while at the hotel’s doorstep even. On the second night, I went to bed with my earphones. Luckily, on the third night it was a Sunday, thus NO nightlife. I slept soundly like a baby without earphones =)

Salons, nooks, press clippings, antiques and more

This is the winning piece in this hotel museum: the telephone switchboard circa early 1900's (could be 1890's as well) - I went like, WOW, haha.

Like I earlier said, the hotel is a museum in itself!

The hotel does not offer extra services and luxurious facilities like many other hotels do but a stay here will definitely bring you back in time. The bed though was nice. The toilet small but clean.

Elegant, statuesque, historical and a cultural place to stay, the Hotel Grande de Paris is indeed a beautiful hotel museum. I highly recommend it.

Travel Period: March 2013
Destination: Porto (Grande Porto), Portugal

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