When travelling through foreign lands, it can be rare to experience local hospitality that is both authentic yet elevated. It's something we are always searching for in our travels. That blend of realness and luxury is a potent one that, when done well, is intoxicating. But even more than this, it’s the blend of old and new that creates a remarkable travel experience. One in which history meets with a cultural relevance that enables us to connect with a location. Santa Clara 1728 is the embodiment of this fine balance, all heritage elegance and familiar warmth.
Hotelier João Rodrigues immediately spotted an opportunity in the 18th Century building perched atop one of Lisbon’s 7 hills. Charmed by its idyllic setting in the old cultural quarter, Rodrigues set about creating both family home and boutique hotel. Local architect Manuel Aires Mateus is responsible for the home’s studied balance of heritage dignity and modern minimalism. By stripping back to the bare bones, Mateus has created a space that is clean and bright but palpable with history.
Each of the 6 guest suites are luxuriously appointed, laden with sleek, contemporary design elements and a muted, tonal palette. Plump white bedding, floating curtains, graceful windows, and decadent stone bathrooms to boot. Furnishings from designer Antonio Citterio are graceful and understated, offset by glossy white tiles and polished brass fittings. In the communal areas, lighting is used to theatrical and bold effect. Davide Groppi’s ‘Simbiosi’ lights flood limestone stairs with stark white brilliance. In the dining room, pendant lights float over a large timber dining table. It’s here that local food is served on modern stoneware alongside Portuguese wines. All this surrounded by enormous classical artworks that lean casually against eggshell coloured walls. Refined yet informal.
Despite all the trimmings, guests are are encouraged to experience the pace of the house as though it were theirs. This familiarity is only possible because of the emphasis placed on comfort. In an ironic twist, it's that comfort which makes the house so hard to tear away from. Something tells us it will be the house, more than anything, that will linger long after the reluctant return to reality.