Hotel Review – Melia Hotel & Spa, Braga, Portugal

Image (c) Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

To end this week of Portugal coverage it’s time for a review of the other place I stayed while visiting Porto for the Travel Bloggers Unite conference. Disclosure is even more important here too, as this time we were on a 2 day trip under the auspices of the O!Porto! tourist board and our accommodation was part of the press trip.

Now that’s the kind of rate I like…

Clearly. But free or not the hotel isn’t escaping the usual Grown-up Travel Guide scrutiny. There are other places to stay in Braga so the point of this review is to decide whether you should choose to stay at the Melia rather than somewhere else.

If it’s good enough for the Portuguese national football team, it ought to be good enough for you?

That’s true – we were greeted by a barrage of press and TV reporters when returning the first night but any delusions that they were there for us were soon trashed as we found out who else was staying there. Anyway, read on…

 

Image (c) Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa, Rua Tenente Valadim 146, 4100-476 Porto, Portugal +351 (22) 040 4000

Website: http://www.meliabraga.com/en

Email: melia.braga@meliaportugal.com

When?

Early September 2012.

Vital stats:

Five stars. Opened 2010, 182 rooms over 12 floors.

Location, location, location?

Image (c) Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

The Melia Hotel is located near the University to the north-east of the city centre which can be reached in about ten minutes by taxi. Unfortunately it is also positioned right between two very busy roads which makes the outdoor pool area a noisy experience.

What about parking?

There’s free parking but spaces are limited; if they are taken you can park on the street in the surrounding area.

Why choose this place?

As previously mentioned my motives were a little different this time as I wasn’t involved in choosing the hotel, but it is Braga’s only central 5-star property and most modern hotel. The pools and spa facilities would be a deal-breaker for some visitors too I’m sure.

Room

Image (c) Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

The hotel offers standard rooms as shown here as well as suites. I was in a standard which was large and modern with the following features: LCD TV, air conditioning, lighting and climate control, blackout drapes/curtains, wired and wireless internet access, direct-dial phone, minibar, hair dryer, bathroom phone, bathroom scale, iron/ironing board, desk, in-room safe and cable television. The huge double bed was very comfortable. A rather neat feature was the inclusion of touch panels to control the lighting and heating next to the bed and in the entrance hall. I found the chair to be a little uncomfortable for working at the desk and ended up sitting on the bed instead.

Carpets?

Yes and no. Perhaps to please all visitors the Melia has opted for hardwood floors in the entrance hall and bathroom and carpet for most of the bedroom area. I’d have dropped the latter but it was a decent compromise.

Bathroom

The bathroom was a decent size with a large and stylish free-standing bath in the main room which was separated from the bedroom by a curtain; there was also a separate shower cubicle and toilet (again with a telephone – is this a Portuguese custom I wonder?) In what probably seemed like a good idea on paper the toilet and shower shared a large glass sliding door. The problem with this soon became apparent as after showering the inside of the door was wet; when the door was slid open this water then dripped onto the floor where it now stood, over the entrance to the toilet. There was no floor drain so this is going to cause a major problem for the floor over time. The hotel provides toiletries in single use size (again, not the best for the environment) and a hair dryer.

Free internet I hope?

Yes. Free wired and wireless with a simple code system. Excellent connection speed and seemingly there were multiple routers on each floor (at least from the scanning I carried out although these may be virtual access points). Full marks to Melia for doing the right thing by their guests.

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Hotel Review – Sheraton Hotel & Spa, Porto, Portugal

Image (c) Sheraton Porto

First a little background and a disclosure. I stayed at the Sheraton Porto a couple of weeks ago while attending the Travel Bloggers Unite conference at the hotel. Delegates were offered a discount on the standard room rate but I checked the regular rates here (see more on this later in the review) and at competing hotels before deciding that this was the best and clearly the most convenient option. Otherwise no preferential treatment was given and the hotel staff were unaware that the property would be reviewed. So that’s how I ended up staying four nights at the Sheraton Hotel & Spa.

You’re getting into this five-star lifestyle on your travels, aren’t you?

Well, if I can go five why go four? I still have my budget limit, of course, and this place was another of those great value hotels. In fact, it’s probably the best bang for the buck I’ve experienced since Warsaw (a review of which is on the way).

Did you get a good rate because it’s miles from the centre?

Not at all. I did get a reduction because the conference was held at the hotel but the rates online are not that much higher, as I’ll explain later. The location is out of the centre but an easy and cheap taxi ride from downtown. On the plus side it’s very quiet and there are some good restaurants nearby if you feel like having a wander.

Well I certainly like the sound of Porto, so let’s here whether this is the place I should stay when I go there…

Image (c) Sheraton Porto

Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa, Rua Tenente Valadim 146, 4100-476 Porto, Portugal +351 (22) 040 4000

Website: http://www.sheratonporto.com/en

Email: sheraton.porto@sheraton.com

When?

Early September 2012.

Vital stats:

Five stars. Opened 2004, 266 rooms over 12 floors.

Location, location, location?

Image (c) Sheraton Porto

The Sheraton is located in an upmarket residential area in the western part of Porto. It’s 15km from the airport and about 4km from the old city centre waterfront area. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and bars within walking distance and there is a taxi rank right outside the property.

What about parking?

If you’re driving here you’ll have another reason to appreciate it’s location a little way from the centre. On-street parking is free but there’s also a garage option for an extra charge.

Why choose this place?

You can get five star luxury and facilities for the price of a far more basic hotel in many other European cities. The location is quiet, it’s easily reached from both the city centre and the airport and there are extensive spa facilities if that floats your boat. There’s also a fitness room and a decent-sized pool.

Room

Image (c) Sheraton Porto

There are two different types of room (Deluxe and Club) as well as three kinds of suite. The rooms are basically the same but paying for Club gets you access to further facilities – primarily the Club Lounge with complimentary food and drinks and other services. The Deluxe room that I was given was large (32 m2) and well-designed and included the following features: LCD TV, CD player, air conditioning and climate control, blackout drapes/curtains, wired and wireless internet access, direct-dial phone, minibar, bathrobes, hair dryer, bathroom phone, bathroom scale, iron/ironing board, clock radio, desk, in-room safe (laptop compatible) and cable television. The huge double bed was very comfortable.

Carpets?

Yes. It still seems that carpets=luxury even if I beg to differ. Anyway the carpets here were perfectly clean but as you know I would have much preferred wooden floors.

Bathroom

The bathroom was very large, containing a bath and separate shower cubicle that – believe it or not – did not leak water onto the floor! Well done Sheraton Porto for cracking that code that seems to have eluded most other hotels. The hotel provides toiletries in single use size (not the best for the environment) and a hair dryer. The toilet was also separate and included a bidet and rather oddly a telephone in case you felt like keeping in touch while on the throne, presumably. Bathroom scales were also provided which some will dislike (hey, we’re on holiday here!) but many will find useful I guess. The blinds on the glass wall between the bathroom and bedroom can be closed using one of the switches on the wall to provide privacy. Just don’t do what several of my fellow delegates did and pull the alarm cord thinking this will close them. It is marked as an alarm so you shouldn’t really make this mistake…oh and you can use another knob to pipe the sound from the TV into the bathroom which is a nice touch but didn’t work for me as my room was the mirror image of the one pictured so the TV was behind me. Still, you could use the music channels of course.

Free internet I hope?

No, and this was one of only two complaints I had. We had it included in our rate but other guests have to pay. I assume this is standard practice in Portugal but someone has to lead the way and make it free…

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