Luxury Hotels

PORTUGAL – 5

Every moment at Six Senses Douro Valley is one experience after another. Wake up in 554, and flip the switch to get all blinds simultaneously rising (all ‘switches’, well-marked, are convex panels, about seven centimetres long, set horizontally – flip/push to the left for on, right for off, so simple, as are shower controls, set temperature and push a simple round button for, say, rainforest on, rainforest off).

Yes, this property makes things simple for the customer, who then, in a good frame of mind, appreciates things all the more and is prepared to experiment.  Food is a good case in point.  The hotel’s Quinta Farmhouse Breakfast is GORGEOUS. There’s a buffet set out on various refrectory tables in front of the area where chefs are working, slicing vegetables through to composing dishes. Everything on the buffet is minutely labelled, from detox of the day through to big glass jars, on ice, of goat and other yoghurts, types of flan.

As you are seated they bring a wood box holding yoghurt parfait, slices of chocolate bread, and jars of butter and jam (they’re big on glass jars and wood boxes, here). Take perfect kiwi slices to add to a muesli, perhaps chocolate and fruit. And then there’s the list of three à la cartes of the day, say ‘open toast with creamy labneh, garden vegetables and pumpkin roasted in honey and vinegar’. See above.

And then to drink. Help yourself to fire cider, for immunity, or antibacterial kefit, or kombucha. How about a ‘longevity adaptogenic brew’? Today’s cleansing booster is a hazelnut milk-banana smoothie with cinnamon, vanilla and ashwagandha. Note to self, next visit bring a dictionary: Ashwagandha is a herb used in Ayurveda to reduce stress, improve athletic performance, and treat mental health conditions.  There are also, brought to table, seven coffees, three teas, one hot chocolate and numerous juices…

Girlahead had a cooking-lesson lunch, and one superb Wine Room dinner. Going easy, she decided to forgo a Wine Room main course in favour of appetisers and a side. See below. Luis Seabra Vinhos Xisto Ilimitado Branco 2022. Octopus slices, with red onion, parsley, red wine vinegar; mushrooms with garlic and bits of chestnut, and a side of hot sautéed greens with olive oil and garlic, which left room for dessert….