"This is very much a wine hotel – we see ourselves as a vitrine for the Douro Valley,” says Six Senses Douro Valley manager Nick Yarnell, raising a glass of red that gleams in the light from a chandelier.
It was a statement to toast as we sat in the surroundings of the Portuguese resort's Wine Library for a tasting session.
Wine director Francisca van Zeller and her team ensure this is undoubtedly the liveliest library you’ll study in.
Meanwhile, the Six Senses restaurant offers the perfect place to practise new pairing skills.
The al fresco fairytale courtyard with a fountain is a treat as the sun sets and I tucked into pumpkin soup followed by salt cod, both served with a crisp, dry Douro house white.
The hotel juts out from neat rows of trees and boasts attractive turrets, a pool with views to die for and a blossoming garden with the gaping mouth of the Douro Valley river beyond.
The landscape is a feast for the eyes whether from the full-length window of my plush bedroom – one of 56 – poolside or during outdoor yoga.
The striking 19th century architecture is pretty as a picture and emphasizes the fusion of tradition, environment and heritage.
Six Senses is expert in embracing its natural surroundings. And while wine tasting is very adult pastime, tree climbing offered a reversion back to childhood, assisted by expert instructors.
It’s almost impossible not to switch off whether you’re trekking through the forest, enjoying the holistic massage or taking an upside-down view during aerial yoga class.
And all this just a couple of hours’ from London means it can be completed in a long weekend.
Cheers to that.
Rates from €285 per night including taxes, service charge and breakfast for two people
TAP Portugal flies directly from London Gatwick to Porto twice daily, return fares starting at £120 including all taxes and surcharges.
For further information and to book call 0345 601 0932.
Five best bits in and around Six Senses Douro Valley
Delux Rooms with a view
The flick of a remote opens the bedroom blinds to reveal the truly stunning scenery of the Douro Valley.
Kick back and relax on a super soft corporate mattress as you ogle out on the vast river, forests and cute rustic boats.
It’s a soothing sight for sore eyes, brimming with rural, natural pleasures - that’s if you can tear yourself away from the luxury of the open-plan bedroom-come-living space.
Fitness classes at Six Senses make the most of the hotel’s acres of woodland.
Tree climbing and a hike are great ways to explore - but zoning out to the sounds of birds and woodland rustles, instead of the humdrum of London traffic, is a tranquil treat not to be missed.
Chef’s Table dinner with head chef Rick Gonzalez.
This is a feast for the eyes and the belly.
Wooden boards heaved with fresh eggplant, padron peppers and parsley plucked from the Six Senses garden.
Chef Gonzalez whipped up around eight dishes including a delicious codfish carpaccio with a bold kick of chili and a moreish flatbread crammed with figs, blue cheese and ruccola.
Everything’s cooked fresh to order so there’s scope to switch depending on dietary requirements and you’ll leave with dozens of recipe ideas to recreate at home.
Holistic Massage, Six Senses Spa
You know the drill - you fill out a pre-treatment questionnaire and specify just where, and how hard, a pummel you want to plump for.
Except at Douro they actually take note. This was nearly an hour of pure pleasure, with the medium to hard levels of exertion from the therapist easing my tight shoulders and twingy back.
Sneak a peek from the treatment table and you’re looking our onto the Douro landscape and relaxation levels simply rocket.
Doc Douro Restaurant
Soaking up fresh air and forest sights during an hour long boat trip through the heart of the Douro Valley will leave you with a hearty appetite.
Lucky, then, that this iconic eatery by chef Rui Paula sits right on the water.
Courses including a quirky salmon cone starter and charred octopus were paired perfectly from wines harvested from fields just across the water.
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