There is a different way of experiencing the ancient, deep soul of a city like Lisbon, where you can witness old and new in a breath-taking glance, leaving you overwhelmed by the magic of the place. Staying at the Memmo Príncipe Real, a member of Design Hotels™, offers this pleasant and inevitable sense of vertigo, partly due to its location, in the north of the very popular Bairro Alto district, in the Príncipe Real neighbourhood from which the hotel takes its name, and partly due to its visual impact before you even cross the entrance.
The building, which is balanced between a contemporary and classical design, is the work of architect Samuel Torres de Carvalho. It is spectacularly modernistic, featuring elegant, but rigorous geometry and a rectangular silhouette spread over four floors with a terrace system. The building rises up, as though levitating, on a slope of the city and stands out on the horizon due to its use of glass and oak wood, set amidst the typical red roofs that contrast with the white plaster.
“The indomitable energy of this city is inspirational,” comments owner Rodrigo Machaz, who also owns the Memmo Baleeira and Memmo Alfama hotels, all Portuguese and unified by a sort of aesthetic continuity thanks to the co-ordination of João Corrêa Nunes and Torres de Carvalho. The aristocratic nature of the buildings in the bairro, a vestige of the 19th century elite, is also evident inside the hotel, although its atmosphere has been restyled. Previously, the area was home to an equestrian centre and now guests enter a fully-glazed atrium that offers a very impressive view.
The space is also enhanced by the black industrial-style columns, which are designed to stabilize the whole structure, and by a curved slatted wood wall that proudly displays a portrait of Dom Pedro V, King of Portugal during the second half of the 19th century, in a version redesigned by Carlos Barahona Possollo. He is not the only artist to have contributed to the hotel. Iva Viana, a ceramic enthusiast, used an ancient stucco technique to enhance the reception with a panel that celebrates the gardens of Príncipe Real, while Miguel Branco interpreted the interiors of the restaurant, Colonial Café and en-suite bedrooms with artworks.
Here, attention to detail specifically targets the mind and soul. Especially in the private spaces of the 41 rooms in which Memmo’s design team has blended contemporary elegance and handcrafted custom-made pieces, in neutral, reassuring shades, with a reference to the black steel design of the outer structure.
Tradition is honoured in the bedroom lamps, which were handcrafted in three different sizes in the coastal city of Marinha Grande, and in the limestone coatings, wash basins and bath tubs in the bathrooms, as well as on the floors of the reception, restaurant, bar and terrace. Most of the furniture was specially designed by the architect and by the Memmo design team and made by local producers. Exceptions to this rule are the Thonet chairs, the Edra sofa, the Ware Evolution/Grupo Azevedos bathroom fittings and the lighting fixtures, on the floor and suspended, designed by Santa & Cole for the reception and the restaurant. A coordinated supply by Hermès dedicated to personal comfort completes an offer that also includes a cocktail menu in the bedrooms.
Owner: Rodrigo Machaz
Location: Rua D. Pedro V, 56 J, 1250-094 Lisbon, Portugal
Hotel operator Memmo Príncipe Real
Architectural design: Samuel Torres de Carvalho, João Corrêa Nunes
Interior design: Memmo design team
Furnishings, Main suppliers: Thonet, Edra
Lightings, Main suppliers: Santa & Cole
Bathrooms, Main suppliers: Ware Evolution/Grupo Azevedos