Daniel Almeroth reaps the benefits of wine at Douro’s vino-themed spa
The tone was set early on — a glass of smooth port made the chore of checking in that much more enjoyable.
The award-winning boutique hotel sits on top of a hill with one of the most pleasing views old-world Europe can muster. It may not be the most popular, but it could be one of the most important in the history of wine.
Built in 2006, it has the opulence and grandeur of an old royal house. Every room is spoilt with an intoxicating view of the Douro river, the Dom Luís I Bridge and Porto’s towering townhouses with endless terracotta roofs. Wine is everything at The Yeatman. Walls are draped in themed artwork with vine-like patterns organically spreading across the carpet and marble floors. Given the chance, the building would be made out of vines, grapes and wine if it was structurally safe, commercially viable and if wine wasn’t so, well, liquid.
Calling the wine list at the bar ‘extensive’ would be an understatement. With the best wines from all over the globe, not just Portugal, giving you a platform to appreciate wine as a whole. For the wino-historians out there, the story of the Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman port house is intensely documented in the newly renovated walkthrough museum, where post-learning you can sample an array of port in the tranquil, oasis-like garden paraded by peacocks. That’s my kind of learning.
As you may have already guessed, The Yeatman is a wine hotel. The Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa is a proud addition to this premises, which itself is a wine revelation. The spa’s story stems from the grape pickers themselves. Word on the grapevine is that after a harvest the hands of the workers were soft, supple and youthful thanks to the health-giving benefits of the plant and fruit. The antioxidants and extracts from the vines and grapes, mixed with hot spring water found 500 metres below the spa estate, have produced unique spa treatments and products ever since.
The spa boasts a Roman bath, hammam, shower experience and sauna, as well as an area to enjoy panoramic views of the city. Guests of the spa also have direct access to The Yeatman’s indoor panoramic infinity pool.
Waiting for our treatment, my newly-wedded wife and I soaked up the setting sun in big fluffy dressing gowns on a separate veranda overlooking the old town of Porto, and the river Douro pouring its way to the Atlantic. Peeling away from the view, we were led to our couple’s treatment room down (and through) a large port barrel staircase. The Divine Massage, a signature treatment at the spa, is a relaxing and almost sleep-inducing massage, followed by a skin-glowing scrub — the ultimate all-important breather, to gather ones thoughts between those exceptional glasses of wine.
Eat and drink
Every seat in the hotel’s bars and restaurants face the old town and the Douro. The Dom Luís I Bridge, a gift to the city by none other than Paris’ Gustave Eiffel, stands proud above the Douro, its lights twinkling in the night. The restaurant itself is high end, polished and elegant. Tables for two are dotted at an angle so both parties can admire the view as well as the company, food and the all-important wine. The attentive waiters served up an exquisite and delicate taster menu that was expertly paired with national and international wines. Sad to see the meal and wine end? I was. Worry no more, there’s a Yeatman bottle shop on site, so you can replicate your pairings at home. Just get the cooking up to scratch first.
Sitting out on our balcony, reclining on the all-consuming king-size bed or taking a soak in the high-top bath meant we could enjoy panoramic sunsets from anywhere in the room, while of course sipping on the sweet stuff. The rooms are spacious, modern and themed on wine, with a mini library on viniculture, its history, heroes and well-known wine producers. Caudalie toiletries and products are in every room, for that in-room spa-like pamper.
Yes, you’ve guessed it — wine lovers, experts and fans of all levels.
A signature treatment that raises the bar on signature treatments. Please drink responsibly (the occasional paracetamol is recommended).
A superior room is from £385 per night on a B&B basis.
The Divine Massage costs €150 (£130) for 80 minutes.