The hotel brand Selina is known throughout North America, Latin America, and now Europe for its boho-hip ambiance, and lots of little extras that make longer stays more comfortable for digital nomads. The Selina Gêres in Portugal is no exception. Overlooking the Cávado River and right at the edge of the Gêres National Park, the hotel has five different room options, each for a slightly different traveler.
It’s obvious on arrival that this was an old-school river hotel from back in the day that has been converted — its boxy, plain facade and lackluster pool area giving it away. But Selina has done lots to renovate the space and make it cool again — murals on the sides of the building, retro lighting, and a totally redone lounge/co-working space give this Selina that same laid-back nomad-y style that you will find in others. Facing the riverside are 4 apartments that sleep four, each with a kitchenette, living room, and river-facing balcony.
Regular single rooms are also available, the best with balconies that face the outdoor courtyard in the middle of the property. These rooms have splashes of colors and some vintage chic but are not luxurious. Bathrooms are large but there are no in-room amenities except hairdryers. The four hostel-style dorm rooms are mixed-sex and sleep six apiece and four other family-style rooms are good for groups that want privacy — these have bunks and regular beds to sleep a total of 4. All these rooms run from about $70 to 300usd for the basic, no breakfast package.
The best accommodation in my opinion, and what we chose on our visit, is one of the 8 glamping tents, at the bottom of the hill to one side of the river. The tents have two single beds, and the quality of the mattresses and linens really stand out. Each has two leather lounging chairs, bedside lamps, and a godsend box outlet that fits all different kinds of plugs (US, European, USB, etc). The tents get a little warm in the mid-day sunlight but each has been outfitted with a small stand-alone AC unit and stove heaters for the cooler months.
The tents’ shared bathrooms are spacious and kept extremely clean, with good working hairdryers and shampoo in dispensers in the shower. The glamping area felt the most wide open and in harmony with the rural surroundings and we loved hearing the church bells peel out the hours in the morning.
The hotel‘s main check-in area includes a medium-sized kitchen (about three people can cook at a time) and a cozy dining room where guests can eat or work. There is a to-go snack area that sells prepared food and wine, and funnily enough, a cigarette machine, something you never see in the U.S. anymore.
The co-working space has bean bags and other chairs for working or lounging and there’s a media area with a large screen and projector that you can sign up to use with your Netflix or other streaming accounts (a curtain makes the space private from the rest of the common area).
The Nomada restaurant upstairs has an excellent terrace and some interesting menu items like wild mushroom pad Thai and pork cheek risotto but the service when we went was impossibly slow and the waiter seemed not to know we existed even though he had to pass our table every time he went in and out. Other patrons looked like they were getting better service, but we hesitated to go back during our stay whenever we were really hungry.
The pool area is decent, open with two outdoor showers and some seating areas, including a few bean bags that faced the river. The hotel also has river access right on its property that leads down to a little beach for swimming. The views are relaxing and great after a long morning hiking.
As Selina Geres is right in the national park there are dozens of hiking trails to take, most start a short distance away so it’s good to have a car. The nearby Cascata do Arado (the Arado Waterfall) was an easy hike and a lovely swimming hole. A little further, Poço Azul was much more intense to walk but also had a nice cold swim at the end in a beautiful setting. Go early and don’t try to combine both places in one day.
My big complaint with the hotel was the front desk staff who seemed to know almost nothing about the area including where hikes started and how long they took, if there were nearby vineyards to visit, if you could visit the local hotel springs (only with access to the nearby Águas do Gerês hotel and spa) and what times things opened and closed. They weren’t that eager to help in any regard. Your best option for information in the area is the stand-alone tourism office right before you cross the bridge into the park that has a handful of brochures about the park and the rest of the region. They speak little of any other language besides Portuguese so go prepared.
Also, make sure you check on prices if you extend your stay. We got taken for about 25 Euros extra on the per-night price when we extended our glamping an additional night.
Despite those couple of things, the Selina Geres location is excellent and there are lots of services to take advantage of. Even if you aren’t a digital nomad, for example, sometimes it’s nice to be able to mix it up and cook on vacation.
The hotel offers free parking and free wi-fi (whose signal even reached the tents) as well as wellness activities like dance classes, meditation, and “healing raves.” If you are heading up to Geres to take advantage of nature, you’ll appreciate a little comfort at Selina Geres at the end of the day.