Verride Palácio Santa Catarina
Blending old-world charm with lovely weather and a burgeoning culinary scene, Lisbon has climbed the ranks to become one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations. The presence of the 18th century palace-turned-boutique-hotel, Verride Palácio Santa Catarina, makes Portugal’s capital even more irresistible. By Justina Tan
From its storied past to century-old wooden trams and funiculars to its cobbled streets and diverse architecture, Lisbon is teeming with character. An apt addition to Lisbon’s vibrant, sun-kissed cityscape, Verride Palácio Santa Catarina is carved from an 18th century palace that was previously home to a Portuguese count, a bank, and even pop-up art exhibitions.
Since officially launching six months ago, the 19-room luxury boutique hotel has quickly gained a reputation as the city’s most stylish hotel. Perched on the Santa Catarina hilltop at the edge of the culture-rich Chiado district, the four-storey townhouse offers sumptuous views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Tagus River’s scenic bay from its top floor terrace. Sunny-hued trams trundle up and down the same street, while the fascinating Pharmacy Museum nearby intrigues with medicinal artefacts of yore.
Blending seamlessly with its quaint surroundings, Verride Palácio Santa Catarina is a marriage of old and new. Renowned architect Teresa Nunes da Ponte and interior designer Andrea Previ breathed new life into the 263-year-old heritage building with a fastidious hand. “The exceptional location and intrinsic value of the structure served as inspiration and a starting point for its refurbishment. One of the biggest challenges we faced was creating a fresh and contemporary atmosphere within an old building without hurting its heritage,” shares Nunes da Ponte.
Using the structure’s Pombaline construction – a Portuguese architectural style of the 18th century – as a foundation for the hotel’s design concept, Nunes da Ponte and Previ recovered Verride Palácio’s original building elements wherever possible. This included restoration of ornamental ceilings, the dramatic curved wrought iron staircase, original stuccowork, and 18th century Azulejo tiles.
To add balance to the building’s ornate ‘hardware’, the rooms and suites are decked in a warm, neutral palette of pale grey, beige, soft blue and light brown, and fitted with modern furnishings such as custom de Gournay silk wall panels, AJ floor lamps, and purple or blue glass baubles by artists Irene Buarque and Cláudio Goulart. Meanwhile, the materials used are lush and tactile – think velvet, raw linen and wool rugs in soft, comforting tones. Generously sized windows are worked into the structure to allow Lisbon’s signature golden light to flood the spaces.
Many of the furniture pieces were designed by Nunes da Ponte and Previ specifically for this project, including the stunning ebony consoles in the Yellow Room – a plush space that connects the two Royal Suites – and the reinvented Art Deco style wardrobes in the second-floor guestrooms. “I’m proud of how we’ve conserved the elements from various styles and centuries – partially discovered during construction – and harmonised them through a design of sharp and simple lines,” says Nunes da Ponte.
The suites, in particular, perfectly showcase Nunes da Ponte’s and Previ’s work. Details like Rococo-style moulding, carved wooden ceilings and hand-painted 18th century Portuguese tiles are flawlessly combined with de Gournay wallpaper and bespoke furniture by the dynamic duo. Each suite features a free-standing marble bathtub, with some offering breathtaking views of the Tagus River. The Queen’s Suite is embellished with stuccowork and
its bathroom is surrounded with blue and white Azulejo-tiled murals from 1901; the King’s Suite has a spectacular wooden coffered ceiling; and the Arch Suite boasts an 18th century exposed stone arch.
A taste of Portugal
While the guestrooms and suites are certainly highlights of
Verride Palácio Santa Catarina, the rest of the property is no less magnificent. Furnished with dining tables made from salvaged timber floors from the old structure, the restaurants include Suba, a chic gastro bar that serves an incredible city view together with contemporary Portuguese cuisine; and Criatura, a restaurant with rust-hued vaulted ceilings that offers communal Portuguese dishes with a twist. There’s also a breakfast room with French doors that open up to an outdoor terrace with a bijou glass-encased lap pool offering views of the neighbouring rooftops.
“Quiet, elegant and local was the motto that guided the interior design process. The richness and diversity of the hotel’s surroundings transferred to its interiors. The popular Bica neighbourhood, the river’s ever-changing colours, and the aristocratic palaces that surround this site all somehow found a way in,” shares Nunes da Ponte with pride.
Custom de Gournay wallpaper adds an elegant touch to the Queen’s Suite.
Intricate Azulejo-tiled murals in this bathroom perfectly complement the free-standing marble bathtub.
The building’s original Rococo-style moulding is beautifully showcased in the Queen’s Suite.
The Yellow Room is a plush space that connects the two Royal Suites. The curved wrought iron staircase was preserved from the original structure. The vaulted celings in Criatura restaurant add depth to the space.