The InterContinental Porto – Palacio Das Cardosas is a building with a long history. It began its life as a monastery in the fifteenth century. In the 1800s, it served briefly as a military hospital before being purchased by the wealthy Manuel Cardoso dos Santos as a palace for his family. When he died, the palace became the property of his wife and three daughters, collectively known as the Cardosas, and the building became popularly known as the Palacio das Cardosas – a name preserved to this day by the InterContinental Hotel. In 2007, the building began its transformation into a five-star hotel designed by the Russian architect Alex Kravitz. The hotel retains the original facade of the building and uses materials such as marble and wood to preserve an old world feel throughout the hotel. The hotel welcomed its first guests in June 2011.
So, with all that history behind it, how does the InterContinental Porto measure up to the expectations of the discerning guests of the twenty-first century? Currently rated number one of the 89 hotels in Porto on TripAdvisor, the InterContinental is clearly doing something right. Its major win is the location. It is within easy walking distance of all the major tourist attractions of the historical centre of the city, and one of the main stops for hop-on hop-off tourist buses is only steps from the hotel’s door (but on a cross street, so the buses are not a distraction from the grand facade of the hotel). The rooms are spacious and modern with a touch of old world charm in the large French doors and heavy draperies. In executive rooms, the French doors open onto Juliette balconies with an exceptional view of the Praça da Liberdade and the town hall. All rooms have free wifi and flat-screen TVs.
The bonus at this hotel is the pricing. Travel in Portugal is generally more affordable than travel in the United States or other parts of Europe, and that’s no less true at the top end of the travel market. Room rates start at less than $300 per night – compare that to the price of a five-star hotel in Paris, London, or New York, and it becomes clear that in Porto, the upscale travel experience is available to a much larger segment of travellers, making the InterContinental an affordable splurge.
The writer stayed as a guest of the InterContinental Porto – Palacio Das Cardosas.