New in my dear Lisbon! Two spectacular additions to existing outspoken places just opened last month.
First the new modern building at MAAT Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology – designed by British architect Amanda Levete. Levete connects the future with the former 20th century power station along the Tagus River in Belém.
Second is the most recent hidden luxury creation of the small Memmo Hotel group who now opened on a unique location overlooking the city of Lisboa from my favourite neighbourhood, Príncipe Real.
Stay in the latter, visit the first. We did.
Memmo Hotel Príncipe Real
Still a soft opening but already available for the first guests. You might know Memmo Hotel – member of Design Hotels – from Memmo Baleeira close to Sagres (Algarve) or from Memmo Alfama also in Lisbon, both 4* boutique hotels. And now Príncipe Real opened, the first 5* boutique hotel named after its location in the most aristocratic and cosmopolitan bairro in Lisbon.
Each Memmo Hotel – referring to memory in stead of possession – is part of the essence of the place where it is located. It’s not only a place to sleep but much more.
Well, Memmo Hotel Príncipe Real is a true hidden treasure. Easy to overlook and pass by. Only those who know will find it. I had to call reception, convinced we arrived at the correct address but couldn’t see anything that resembled a hotel entrance. A narrow tunnel from the main street (av. D Pedro 5) leads you to a spot with one of the most spectacular panoramic views over Lisbon.
The hotel is fully integrated – outside limestones continue inside – and in perfect harmony with the surroundings. A modern style building with a cosmopolitan ambience. Hidden luxury, I love it.
In the lobby, the first person you meet is the royal prince – príncipe real – D. Pedro V himself. A big oil painting by Portuguese artist Barahona Possollo, inspired by the original portrait from 1860, only this time with contemporary details. Take a closer look to discover which ones.
The (bath) room at Memmo Hotel Principe Real
The hotel has 41 rooms. We stayed in room 408, a superior city view room. The room is not big, rather small even, around 27 sqm. But the elegant interior design and well thought out efficiency make up for this.
First thing I noticed when entering the room were Hermès amenities on the marble bathroom sink. Second was the floor to ceiling glass door, showing a panoramic view over the old city of Lisbon.
Egyptian bed linen, six pillows (small, medium, oversize), Bang & Olufsen TV, Bose mini-station with Bluetooth, design lamps and mirror, walk-in closet, soft bathrobes and slippers, Vola taps and shower are just a few of the features who together make it 5* luxury.
For breakfast head to the Café Colonial – exclusively for guests – behind the reception/lobby on the ground floor level. Connected to the outside main terrace where a minimalistic lap pool and comfortable lounge sofas make you feel like hanging out at a friend’s place. Friends with good taste, that is. From next year Spring the panoramic rooftop terrace will also be open.
Do visit the toilets and marvel at the stunning hand-painted antique tiles, azulejos. Don’t forget to look up.
n.b. I visited this hotel again during New Year Eve and have to make an adjustment. The level of service in the restaurant was mildly chaotic at my first visit. I blamed it on not being officially open yet. A new group needs time to learn to work together. I am sorry to say that during our stay end December is was even worse. The level of service did not match the level of interior. KB jan 2017
MAAT museum in Belém
The picturesque area of Belém is well-known as the place where tall ships set out to sail and discover the world from the 14th century onwards. Vasco da Gama and the likes.
Today it is a mixture of ancient culture, important historic landmarks – Torre de Belém, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos – and modern architecture as The Belem Cultural Centre. Also the best place to stroll along the riverbanks on a sunny afternoon. They have a lot of those in Portugal, sunny afternoons.
Another ancient/modern couple is added to the cultural mix in Belém: the new exhibition hall at MAAT Museum for Art, Architecture & Technology. A stunning white, wave-shaped futuristic building appears aside the firm and solid red and white brick power station from the early 1900’s. The original boiler rooms in this – fine example of Portuguese industrial architecture – building once supplied power for the city of Lisbon. I could feel the heat by just looking at the huge ovens.
The new building, designed by Amanda Levete of AL_A architects from London, is composed of 15.000 three-dimensional crackle-glazed tiles in hexagonal patterns.
The first installation in this large hall is Pynchon Park by renowned French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. An intriguing enclosure where aliens would be able to observe human behaviour in optimal conditions. Read the story on the wall first and then walk aroun the arena. This form of art really reflects MAAT’s desire to present a diverse program which stimulates contemplating the here and now.
Charles & Ray Eames at MAAT museum
The old power station building also provides space for temporary exhibitions. Currently showing is the World of Charles and Ray Eames. As long time admirers of this unique designer couple who’s life and work were seamlessly connected, this expo is another reason visit the museum. Hello, original lounge chair.
Combining the hidden luxury of the Memmo Hotel with the Maat Museum is about mixing sounds, scents and images. Another special memory added to my Portuguese travel collection. Next booking to Lisbon already made.
Eames expo until Jan, 9 2017 Pynchon Park until Mar, 20 2017