Quite without anyone noticing it, Lisbon has stealthily stolen the march on its European compatriots as a compulsory destination. These days, it is literally sitting pretty on a hilly rise enclosed by the Tagus River’s ludicrously scenic bay. Specifically, the city’s attractive mix of Baroque and 19th-century piles are being repurposed by savvy property developers and house-proud millennials into imaginative concept stores, buzzy restaurants and, in the case of the grand Verride Palácio Santa Catarina, soigné hotel.
Located in Lisbon’s hipster Chiado quarter, the handsome four-storey building with views of the Tagus had, since it was built in 1750, changed hands several times until a few years ago when a consortium of private and public sector parties agreed to settle a messy and protracted legal battle by turning it into a modern boutique hotel.
In restoring the Pombalino interiors, architect Teresa Nunes da Ponte walked a fine line between keeping the ancient but still beautiful bones, whilst injecting a sophisticated modernity.
In the main, this has meant meticulously restoring the intricate mouldings, the wrought iron internal staircase, ornamental ceilings, the Portuguese and Greek marble in the public spaces and, in some of the suites, the original blue and white Azulejo tiles. The timber floors were salvaged and repurposed as dining tables in the restaurants. The hotel’s 18 spacious rooms, meanwhile, are wrapped in a muted palate of light browns, low-slung grey sofas, slender AJ floor lamps and de Gournay silk wall panels.
A number of parterres are scattered throughout the property, though the best seat in the house is probably right outside the breakfast room, a shaded nook that opens into a bijou glass-encased lap-pool with peekaboo views of the neighbourhood rooftops.
At sunset, the miradouro just next to the Verride’s cobblestoned forecourt turns into a lively honeypot of beautiful young things who dance day into night to the soulful jangle of a regular Portuguese band. It’s a perfect pre-prandial treat especially since executive chef Bruno Carvalho, unusually for a hotel of this size, presides over two restaurants: Suba, a gastro bar that serves up king crabs with a citrus and guacamole cream, and crisp chilli shrimp aguachile; and Criatura, a more formal dining room featuring the likes of cabidela and roasted sea-bass.