A tribute to the most revolutionary artists, to artisans and designers and to the capital of the North’s exquisite taste.
Ingrid Koeck grew up in her grandmother’s bed & breakfast in Austria. She studied political science, was a journalist and worked for the United Nations in Africa before deciding to return to her roots and the “hospitality business”. She chose Portugal, where she met and teamed up with fellow Austrian, Barbara Ott, and the Portuguese, João Tavares, of Torel Palace. Now she’s the face of the new Torel in Porto and visibly enthusiastic: “It’s interesting to contribute, honour the spirit of this vibrant city.” She remembers them seeing the building and not knowing where to begin: a 1940s Estado Novo construction, “it could be anything”. “And we didn’t want to just do another hotel.” And they didn’t.
The new Torel is absolutely elegant, recalling 1930s and 1940s avant-garde art and design. Isabel Sá Nogueira devised the common areas and living room, a wall lined with flowers opposite a large window overlooking the Casa do Vinho Verde gardens. “It’s a success!”, exclaims Ingrid. At the Digby restaurant (named after the man who invented the wine bottle), the food is prepared by Casa da Comida. We loved the seafood soup and the fantastic scallops, the service and wine list. Essential? The brunch.
The spa is inspired by nature, beginning with a mossy wall, the entire hotel is open to the outside, the garden with pool overlooks the river and there’s a light that can be seen in every corner and almost every room, despite the contrast with the darker shades of the décor. Designed by the Porto firm, NANO, there are 47 rooms in total, all different, each one dedicated to an artist who dared to push established boundaries. These are veritable nooks and crannies of comfort, combinations of light and shadows, rich, deep colours, copper dotted all around, from the taps to the old-fashioned door handles. “It’s so cool and elegant, isn’t it? And solid.” We stay in the Van Gogh, but could have easily chosen the Apollinaire, the Aurélia de Sousa, the Charles and Ray Eames, in the grand Leonardo Da Vinci – or in our favourite, the Coco Chanel, one of three that have a jacuzzi overlooking River Douro.
Special efforts were made to make everything Portuguese, which is why we find the work of graffiters Frederico Draw and Daniel Eime, sculptor Paulo Neves and artist Jorge Curval, whose work is on display throughout the hotel. There are brands like Branca Lisboa, by designer Marco Sousa Santos, Mood by Raul Santos, Alexandre Caldas’ Around the Tree, tapestries by Ferreira de Sá, Munna furniture, objects by A Latoaria, among others. “We’re proud of the country and its crafts, of the things that are well made. I’m asked: is the floor also handmade? The leather doors? Yes, it’s remarkable, a lot of work”. She pauses. “We want to offer something exceptional, the spaces, the service, the people. No one here wears a tie, we want people to feel at home.”
Rua da Restauração, 336, Porto \\\ torelavantgarde.com \\\ From €110
by Patrícia Barnabé
web design & development 262media.com