For city breaking parents who’ve been there and done that from Paris to Prague, Porto could well be next on the list and this funky family town house ticks our boxes for babies and toddlers to come too. As a designer and an engineer, the owners have realised their dream by transforming this historic building into a minimal yet playful 4-bedroom home where families can have fun discovering all of Porto’s well kept secrets.
The owners have stuck to the principles of keeping it simply to breathe new life into the 100-year old building but key features of its original grandeur have been retained, from the sweeping staircase and wide hallways to original shuttered windows and a central roof-light that helps to make the house so bright and airy. White walls throughout also make the house feel modern and fresh, but every room has its own splash of designer flair, from simple motifs, like poppies and birds, painted onto the walls, to funky wall art and colourful, contemporary fabrics.
With two children of their own (and a dog called Sushi), the owners have specifically designed the house with families in mind, in particular incorporating a cheerful play room with a range of toys including a ride-on rocker, space hopper, Lego Duplo and drawing board. The living room is nice and cosy, with comfy sofas to flop in front of the Cable TV after a busy day sightseeing and the modern kitchen is well equipped for family self catering. From the kitchen, children can escape into a ‘secret garden’, with orange and lemon trees, deckchairs and a dining patio for enjoying mealtimes al fresco. If families need any assistance, or just some advice of where to eat with the kids and what to see, the owners live just 5 minutes away and will be happy to help.
The house dates back to the beginning of the 20th century but has been recently renovated and converted into a bright, contemporary holiday house for up to 9 people plus babies, and two travel costs are included. In total, the house provides 220 square metres of space over two floors and also has 150 square metres of private, enclosed garden, including a dining patio.
The ground floor comprises a living room with cable TV and WiFi; dining room with a table seating 8; play room with a sofa bed if required; well equipped modern kitchen including an oven, microwave, fridge freezer, dishwasher, toaster, hand-blender, coffee machine and children’s crockery; 2 huge shower-rooms, each with 2 showers; a separate WC.
The house has 4 bedrooms on the first floor, each with its own designer theme. The master double bedroom has a custom built double, wooden bed frame and French doors into a covered, tiled veranda which opens to a staircase down to the garden. The ‘poppies’ themed room has one double bed; the ‘birds’ themed room has 2 single beds; and the ‘leaves’ themed room has one single bed and space for a second single bed, which can be set up if required. There is also a WC on the first floor. Bed linen and towels is included as well as complimentary toiletries and a hairdryer.
The house is located in a quiet district of Porto yet only 15 minutes walk from the ‘Bolhão’ and ‘Aliados’ quarters at the heart of the city or just two Metro stops from the station, 50 metres away. The nearby Metro station also has a direct service to the airport which is especially helpful for parents with excited but weary little travellers in tow.
Within 3 minutes walk from the house, families have a choice of cafes, restaurants, takeaways and bakeries to pick up sweet Portuguese pastries for breakfast. There is also a supermarket, pharmacy other shops and ATM’s.
In central Porto, families can have fun seeing the sights by hopping on historic trams or renting bikes and tandems to peddle off to the city’s beaches to watch surfers ride the waves. Porto’s City Park is another good stop off point for a picnic, where children can feed the ducks and moorhens and spot rabbits nibbling the lawns.
Porto’s nearby Oceanarium is a big attraction, where children will have sharks, stingrays and sea cows swimming over their heads as they walk through an underwater tunnel and then have the chance to touch starfish and urchins in the rock pools. Switching from sea life to space, Porto also has a Planetarium with shows and activities specially designed to feed children’s imagination.
Porto has a historic past and the atmospheric, ancient centre is the Ribiera District by the quays on the Douro, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its ornate architecture, medieval plazas and colourful merchant houses. Considerable investment in the city also means charming old Porto sits alongside gleaming modern architectural masterpieces, like the Museo de Arte Contemporanea and the Casa da Musica. As Porto stands on the banks of the Douro River, no visit would be complete without a boat trip and many include visits to world famous Port wineries and vineyards along the way for tastings and tours.
Nearest medical services: Central hospital, 10 mins.
Getting here: Direct flights to Porto are available from the UK with Ryanair. The airport is 20kms from the city and a direct metro service runs to a station just 50 metres from the house.