Porto, Portugal

Photo: 1872 River House

Jet lag is always worse heading east. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a relatively short flight (about five hours to Reykjavík) or a longer one (almost nine hours to Athens), trips to Europe are brutal. After landing in the morning, you spend the rest of the day desperately trying to stay awake while walking around like a zombie. Sleep comes immediately when you finally let your head hit the pillow. One night doesn’t reset your body, though. The next morning, it’s hard to wake up. You hit the snooze button more times than you’d like to admit. It’s almost noon by the time you’re ready to face the day.

So when most people are starting to think about lunch, you’re in search of your morning coffee. Some sort of pastry would be nice, too. In most places, you’d be out of luck. Not in Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city. At your hotel, breakfast is available whenever you finally roll out of bed.

1872 River House is a unique little hotel. It’s in Ribeira, a historic neighborhood full of cobbled streets and candy-colored houses. It sits along the bank of the Douro, one of the major rivers on the Iberian Peninsula, and has a view of Vila Nova de Gaia, where the region’s port wine is aged and stored. It occupies a 19th-century stone row house. The slender pink building, topped with a red-tiled roof, has Juliet balconies and a terrace with a water view.

Photo: 1872 River House

The interior of the hotel is just as cozy. It’s decorated with natural stone, wood, and azulejos (traditional ceramic tilework). Eight rooms—there are two on each floor—feature exposed stone walls, vintage furniture, and fresh flowers. Bathrooms, though small, have heated floors and rain showers.

There’s a living room and a dining room downstairs. The light-filled living room, which looks down into the wine cellar where cod and salt were once stored, has world newspapers, snacks, and a beer tap. Cafe-style tables are in the adjacent dining room, where breakfast is served all day and the owner hosts a wine reception on Friday nights. Restaurant suggestions and bike rentals are available, as well.

No wonder, despite your exhaustion, you immediately feel at home in Porto. Though it’s almost midday, a glass of fresh orange juice, a steaming cup of coffee, and a custard-filled croissant are on the table in front of you. Specially ordered eggs should be coming out of the kitchen soon. You read the headlines in The New York Times—it’s hard to tune out what’s going on at home—as you eat. You’re in no rush. Porto’s stately bell towers, ornate churches, famous wine cellars, and exciting restaurants will be waiting when you’re finally ready.


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