Le Monumental Palace, Porto

By January 17, 2020Europe

Located in the heart of Porto, within walking distance from the historic quarters and Douro River, housed by a 1923 Neoclassical style building whose facade is classified as a historical monument and benefitting from the extensive experience of a 4th generation hotelier family, Le Monumental Palace – the first Maison Albar hotel outside of France – makes a strong statement right from the moment you step in.

Pass by in a hurry and – especially if you’re not living in Porto – most likely you won’t realize that you’ve just arrived in front of one of the city’s two Leading Hotels of The World (LHW). Situated in the center of Porto, Le Monumental Palace doesn’t catch the eye with a daring architecture, glitzy design details like we’ve seen at many luxury hotels in the Middle East or its sheer size. On the contrary. Only a stone’s throw away from Clérigos, Bolhao market and Dom Luís I Bridge, Le Monumental Palace exudes an understated and impactful elegance starting right with its architecture. Evoking the elegant French art of living, the property’s Neoclassical style fits the hotel’s name – especially the “Palace” part – very well. Guests who appreciate a meaningful, elegant architecture, a sleek design and tiny details which make all the difference will find at Le Monumental Palace exactly what they were looking for.

Maison Albar Hotels

This 5-star boutique hotel brand was created in 2014 by Jean-Bernard and Céline Falco (born Albar). The first hotels were opened in Paris, in strategic areas of the city, then expanded in Provence, the French Riviera, Europe, and China. Each hotel, wherever it may be, has a soul: an effortless chic, delicately luxurious, intrinsically elegant art of living and hospitality. “Between these walls, families, couples, and business travelers receive unique and memorable treatments, helping them make lasting memories. Authentic emotions are our trademark, to be found around the world and for a long time”, believe the company’s founders.

Currently, the Maison Albar hotel collection includes properties in Paris (Le Champs-Elysees, Le Pont Neuf, Le Vendome, Le Diamond), Nimes (L’Imperator), Nice (Le Victoria), Chengdu (Le Luxehills) and Porto (Le Monumental Palace). Just like the maisons from a long time ago, back when the lineages of noble families were grouped, Maison Albar also has its flag nowadays. The company’s founders think that the following definition of a “maison” – 4 walls and a roof to be well sheltered – is dated. Instead, they believe that every maison should have its own personality, its own “life”, reflected in the image of the family members and their lifestyle. In the case of Maison Albar Hotels, the soul can be described as “a subtle personality that invites one to experience a very French effortless chic, accessible sophistication, wit and the French touch infusing the local culture.”

A genuine smile at check-in

“The doors are always open at Maison Albar Hotels, radiating into the neighborhood” is one of the company’s beliefs. We better understood what this meant when we arrived at the hotel. Despite the cold weather, cloudy skies and a few raindrops in Porto upon our arrival, the warm welcome we received at check-in made us forget about these inconveniences. Although we spent only 10 minutes in the main lobby, in front of the Reception, our first impression was that we were greeted by friends who have known us for quite a while instead of hotel employees helping guests check-in. Maybe it had something to do with the genuine smile of the two ladies who welcomed us, maybe it had something to do with the funny and witty conversation we had until the check-in process was completed or with the fact that we love Portugal a lot and we’re always happy to return there.

The refined touch of history

The connection between the present and the past is stronger than it may seem at first glance. Café Monumental – one of Porto’s most renowned cafes since 1930 and a favourite gathering place for the city’s elite ever since – is located on the ground floor of the hotel. In line with the Leading Hotels of the World philoshophy, the 5-star Le Monumental Palace catches the eye with its cohesive interior design, elegant details and the quality of the materials used. The hotel features an Art Deco lobby staircase, white marble from Estremoz, black ironwork, high ceilings, large windows and lots of mirrors which create unique visual effects, setting the perfect backdrop for some cool photos for your Instagram feed.

A twist of elegance and subtlety

Guests can choose between 63 rooms and 13 suites, a beautiful library with thousands of books, a dedicated relaxation area, they can create beautiful memories with their loved ones by the fireplace, enjoy haute-cuisine, make new friends at the hotel’s cafe and bar or unwind at the Spa and indoor swimming pool. Each room and suite is characterized by an elegant, 1930s-inspired decor, providing a welcoming, refined and cozy ambiance during the stay. Children haven’t been overlooked, either, as the hotel offers child-friendly amenities: sheets, pillows, bathrobes, slippers, etc. Also on offer: a breakfast for children specially prepared by the Chef, together with “Al, the sheep”, a booklet that has been created exclusively for them.

In the Superior rooms (29 square metres) everything is bespoke, from the graphical motifs, pastel fabrics and lacquered woodwork to the fine furnishings. The Suites Audacieuses (45 sqm) are spread over the 5 floors of the Monumental Palace. The array of graphical motifs is backed by elegant materials like pastel fabrics, lacquered woodwork and furnishings with well-balanced lines. The Suites Insensee (57 sqm) are characterized by an unique, sophisticated and refined decor, creating a warm and luxurious environment. Located on the hotel’s 5th floor, the duplex Suite Excessive (62 sqm) is the perfect place to admire the city lights, especially on a clear night, from the balcony or through the suite’s two windows.

If you want even more, go for the Suite Affolante (80 sqm). Here you will be enchanted by 21-century modernity and comfort doubled by a 1930s-style decor. The natural light coming from outside, thanks to the generous windows, highlights every detail: pastel fabrics, gleaming lacquered woodwork and exquisite furnishings. Marble bathrooms feature delicate Nuxe products, while the subtly-disguised TV and the cabinet minibar are two interesting design details. At the top of the offer sits the Suite Monumentale (87 sqm). By checking-in into this apartment-style suite with different areas you can experience the art of living well in the style of old bourgeois homes in. If you need additional space, the Suite Monumentale can be connected with another room.

A Michelin Plate restaurant…

Besides its location, the beautifully-designed and crafted interiors and the service with a smile, Le Monumental Palace has another ace up its sleeve: the gourmet restaurant Le Monument, awarded a Michelin Plate. Here, guests can discover the talent of Michelin-starred Chef Julien Montbabut’s cuisine as they indulge in a delicious journey. A journey where French know-how enhances the delights of Portuguese traditonal dishes. From the hotel’s brasserie to creative cuisine and dishes to share on the go, each guest will find something that suits their tastes.

Located on the ground floor and only accessible through the hotel, Le Monument restaurant is a marble and column setting with 40 seats. The décor is both modern and elegant, in harmony with the cuisine, and faithful to the spirit of the place, where it exudes a subdued and intimate atmosphere. For rare and exclusive moments, the restaurant is only open in the evening.

… and a French starred chef

After several years at the helm of a restaurant in Paris, where his gourmet cuisine has been recognized each year by a star in the famous guide, Julien Montbabut has expended his horizon and taken up a new challenge by managing the kitchens of Le Monumental Palace. Now a Portuguese resident, this Chef pays tribute to Portuguese products through creative dishes, while bringing his French know-how into the mix. At Le Monument, local products are in the spotlight, while keeping the spirit of French cuisine. Behind the scenes, the team is composed of 20 talented people supervised by Julien Montbabut. Deserts are not to be missed, courtesy of Pastry Chef Joana Thöny-Montbabut, who delights guests with gourmet and festive creations.

Your own cellar with Portuguese and French wines

Le Monumental Palace’s Head Sommelier, who has trained at several prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants, has selected some of the best wines from Portugal and France. They can be enjoyed in the hotel’s cellar, where guests can also purchase the wines they’ve liked the most.

Monumental Cafe and Bar Americain

If you’ve been to France many times and you loved sitting in a brasserie, enjoying its ambiance, you’re in for good news: the spirit of the French capital is floating through Monumental Cafe, the hotel’s Parisian-style brasserie. This historical cafe is a cool spot to be for breakfast, lunch, snack time or dinner, savouring traditional cuisine, foie gras, poultry and the famous dessert trolley.

During our time spent at Monumental Cafe we’ve noticed the large windows, which provide a warm ambiance given the natural lighting, the elegant chandeliers, the intricate design details and the refined motifs with an aristocratic touch. For guests staying at Le Monumental Palace, lazy mornings and a healthy breakfast can be enjoyed either in the breakfast room (open from 7 AM to 10:30 AM) or in the brasserie (from 9 AM to 10:30 AM).

For memorable evenings with friends or like-minded people you’ve just met during your stay, Bar American is the perfect place to spend the evening and head into the night. You’ll have plenty on offer to choose from: classic cocktails, special creations and a selection of the best port wines assorted with snacks. Live piano performances add a nice touch, providing a melodious background for interesting conversations.

And if you’re looking to rejuvenate your body and mind, the hotel’s Nuxe Spa – with indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and three treatment rooms (including one for water therapies) – awaits you daily from 9:30 AM to 8 PM.

Thoughts upon check-out

Our stay in Porto was brief, but we’ll return for a longer stay to explore the city in a warmer climate. Looking on the bright side, the cold and rainy weather gave us the opportunity to enjoy more time at Le Monumental Palace and unwind in its charming decors. This is one of those hotels that made us feel more at home, in a familiar surrounding, and less on the road. Spend at least one night here and you will also be seduced by the interesting mix of history, design, genuine service and subtle luxury. “Strong essences are kept in small bottles”, they say. Just as well, “Quality over quantity” is the guiding principle for many hotels around the world, while others embrace the “Less is more” philosophy. In the case of Maison Albar – Le Monumental Palace, these three principles fit perfectly into the picture. www.maison-albar-hotels-le-monumental-palace.com

Teodor Stefan

Author Teodor Stefan

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