Ask any travel agent where the most beautiful luxury hotel in Portugal is, and chances are the name Six Senses will come up. With its privileged location among the vineyards and on the banks of the Douro, its atypical architecture, its imposing spa and the undeniable quality of its restaurant, the Six Senses Douro Valley has everything to please. Following his stay, Pascal Languillon, Director of Luxe Wellness Club, explains why this hotel is undoubtedly one of the very best in Europe, and why it is an interesting option for those looking to combine a wellness program with the pleasure of good things.
A palace among the vines
I’m not going to hide the fact that I’m a big fan of the Six Senses hotel chain. I’m not the only one, as the chain is often voted the world’s best hotel brand. Having stayed at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay and, more recently, Six Senses Ibiza, it was time for me to discover what many consider to be one of the jewels in the Portuguese hotel crown.
Located around 1h20 from Porto (a magical city) in the magnificent Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Six Senses Douro Valley is a small 19th-century palace set amidst vineyards, overlooking the Douro River. Although you can see the buildings of the city of Salgueral in the distance, you feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside, in a bubble of well-being .
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit this region, as the red hues of the vines and maple trees give the landscape a magical atmosphere. I was lucky enough to enjoy very mild, sunny weather in early November, so much so that we were able to eat outside at lunchtime. My only regret was not being able to take a dip in the magnificent outdoor pool, which was too cold at this time of year. The spa’s large indoor pool was the perfect place to take a dip.
Among the outdoor activities on offer, I really enjoyed my long electric mountain bike ride, which allowed me to explore the region without getting too tired. One experience you won’t want to miss is a run through the vineyards with restaurant chef Marc Lorés Panadés at 8am. It’s a great way to meet the man who treats your taste buds (see below).
For me, the DNA of Six Senses is the“secret sauce” of relaxed luxury that can be found in all our hotels, between exceptional treatments, ecological awareness and exciting hands-on activities.
I particularly love the “Alchemy Bars”, a kind of laboratory where customers transform themselves into druids to make their own soaps, scrubs and other magical potions.
I was also lucky enough to take part in a class on how to create“pickles“, vegetables that are dipped in vinegar to make tasty preserves. A fun and interesting activity, using vegetables from the organic garden, which we visited afterwards. In fact, I was struck by this magnificent vegetable garden filled with aromatic delights. I’d like the same at home!
Another manual activity is ceramic painting, to try and reproduce the beauty of the azulejos found on some of Portugal’s most beautiful buildings.
It would be a shame to be in the area and miss the hotel’s delicious wine and port tasting session in the early evening. Numerous other activities are offered free of charge, and Six Senses places a real emphasis on the quality of the experiences on offer.
As chef Marc Lorés Panadés so rightly pointed out to me, “all luxury hotels can have beautiful rooms, but few manage to create a magical experience for their guests”.
My room: a Quinta Deluxe
I was staying in a beautiful Quinta Deluxe, which is one of the first category rooms, but with a surface area of around 40 m². The view overlooks a private terrace and the Douro, though somewhat hidden by the trees as I was on a lower floor. As at all Six Senses, the bedding is exceptional. This is the kind of bed that makes you want to stay up all night!
The bedroom features a reading area and a cozy sitting area, as well as a spacious bathroom with oversized shower and double basin. Whether it’s the hospitality products, the complimentary teas or the mini-bar, quality is the order of the day, as always at Six Senses.
I also visited other superior rooms that were both brighter and had more spectacular views. I had a soft spot for the Quinta Panorama Suite, which I’d recommend if you have the opportunity to book a stay there (by the way,contact us!).
An exceptional spa
As a wellness expert, what I really want to highlight at Luxe Wellness Club are hotels with the best spas and wellness programs. The one at Six Senses Douro Valley has won numerous awards, and it’s easy to see why.
Of course, first there’s the imposing size of this 4,000 m² spa, with its large indoor pool now featuring an aquatic course, with hydromassage jets and whirlpool baths. There’s also the “Vitality Suite”, a succession of aromatherapy rooms, hammam, laconium, infrared sauna and Finnish sauna overlooking nature. Excellent for gentle detoxification.
I really appreciated the quality of the morning yoga class, which took place in a beautiful room with a green wall. In summer, courses are held outside on a platform.
Numerous wellness activities are planned every day (tai chi, meditation, gong baths, etc.) The fitness room is also well equipped, with sports coaching on request.
I couldn’t stay at this hotel without trying a treatment. I chose to do a regenerating facial, with organic products from theexcellent Austrian vegan brand Vinoble, based on grape seeds. Everything was excellent, from the ultra-comfortable heated massage table to the scent of the products…The result was amazing on my face!
What’s also interesting at Six Senses are the comprehensive wellness programs, tailor-made after a non-invasivewellness screening session that analyzes your physiological biomarkers to tell you which aspects to work on in particular to learn how to feel good.
The sleep cure is one of Six Senses’ flagship programs. It involves the use of a machine placed in the bedroom to record your sleep rhythm. After analyzing this with the therapist, you’ll be guided to develop new habits that will help you get back to a sound sleep.
From Portuguese cuisine to healthy sandwiches
I’m not going to beat around the bush: the food and beverage is another big highlight at Six Senses Douro Valley, with perhaps the best breakfasts I’ve had in recent years. Chef Marc Panades doesn’t like traditional breakfast buffets, and he’s right.
Here, no time is wasted queuing at an omelette stand – you’re served at the table. Better still, the creations of the day are served in front of you: pear and hazelnut tartines, fresh cheeses with berries, fruit platters, crunchy salads… The selection is wide and the freshness exceptional.
The open-plan kitchen is also extremely charming, with baskets of vegetables at the foot of the tables and bunches of garlic hanging from the wall.
Meals are just as good as breakfasts: Portuguese gastronomy with an emphasis on the flavors of the produce. The dishes are relatively simple but delicious. Gone are the molecular cuisine and other concepts of Michelin-starred restaurants .
I particularly remember grilled octopus with a pear purée, and entrecote steak cooked to perfection. Numerous healthy options are available, and menus dedicated to wellness cures are created to order .
A word also about the selection of top Portuguese wines, all of which I found delicious. This restaurant is faultless, with a warm atmosphere.
Last but not least, I’d like to mention the quality of the service and the unfeigned kindness of the staff, always an indispensable asset for a true 5-star experience.
Six Senses remains the global benchmark for relaxed luxury, and its Douro Valley hotel is a place where you naturally feel good. While it’s true that temptations abound in the kitchen, you can also enjoy detox treatments here, and this hotel really is a first-rate option for cutting yourself off from the world for a few days and enjoying the gentle pace of life while being pampered at the spa. A wonderful hotel that we invite you to discover very soon.Luxe Wellness Club
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Rates: From around 500 euros per night in low season, 900 euros per night in summer. Wellness programs available at extra cost.
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