Teatro hotel, Porto, Portugal
RATES: Double rooms from 113 euros TEL: 00 351 220 409
A poem from one of history's great romantics - Portuguese poet, playwright and novelist Almeida Garrett - is printed all over the entrance of the Teatro Hotel.
Given that my Portuguese is not remotely up to translation, I solicit the help of a staff member, who explains simply that it is about "love", a perfect motif for this distinctive establishment located at the heart of Porto's shopping area and close to many of its cultural attractions.
Having said that, there is something of the Marmite factor about the hotel, which stands on the site of a former theatre. Displays of costumes from past productions, spotlights in the restaurant and dimly-lit central areas and corridors may not be to everyone's taste.
And on a related point, an embarrassing confession.
Having alighted from the lift at my allotted floor in semi-darkness, I completely missed the turn-off to my room and had to return to reception, where a staff member took pity on the idiot Englishman and provided a personal escort. I belatedly discovered that movement triggers off lighting to and from your accommodation.
Once settled, however, I felt really at home in the modern and comfy L-shaped bedroom decorated in gold and dark brown hues. Everything one would expect was there, but in a style hearteningly removed from the standard hotel room offering. Back on illumination, two big positives: you can control the lighting from the comfort of your bed and appliances remain working for a time after removing the key card from its electricity-generating slot. Ideal for the dash back to the room for the crucial item you have forgotten. A showreel under the seating in reception is among other theatrical flourishes dotted around the building. There is also a cosy bar area, where I took up the offer to staying guests of a complimentary glass of port. The breakfast buffet was decently varied. The theme element does occasionally run to extremes - umbrellas in the rooms are for "rain scenarios" and courses on the dinner menu are "single acts". But I would gladly return for an encore.