Strangely, it felt as if we were already half way home. As a prologue to our return to London, we spent our last nights in Lisbon in a delightful little hotel inspired by London’s town houses. Valverde Hotel has a classic and elegant style, with contemporary furniture, works of art, objects and antiques, which give a homely ambiance. The light, the comfort of its fabrics and materials and the arrangement of the space resonates with a private residence, making it somewhat unique among city hotel dwellings. The shopper, the executive or the long-term resident will experience a home environment, a rarity among hotels.
The new Valverde Hotel is located in Avenida da Liberdade, one of the main and most luxurious arteries of the city that never lost sight of its historical past as one of the wealthiest areas of the old romantic Lisbon of times gone by. Before being named Avenida da Liberdade, the old Public Promenade was the stage for displays of opulence, where Lisbon high society strolled around to see and to be seen. Built by Marquis of Pombal in the mid eighteenth century, these gardens were a place where kings, queens and courtiers displayed their luxury. In the nineteenth century, when its walls were replaced by an iron railing, the area opened to the public to enjoy long summer afternoons and frequent parties and shows. Eventually it made way for the expansion of the city and its transport system.
We are told the concept behind Valverde Hotel is this Lisbon of times gone by, reinterpreting the memory of the old Avenue, creating a friendly and welcoming space with a personalised service. It certainly is an oasis of comfort in discreet luxury and you very much feel the service is focused on the guests, creating an environment where they may feel at home, while attending to their every needs and requests. “We want Valverde to be a hotel that stands out within Avenida da Liberdade. We want the small one to be grand in its charm, quality and the way it welcomes and treats its guests”, says Pedro Mendes Leal, overseeing the transformation of the hotel in 2014 and its expansion to be completed later this year.
José Pedro Vieira and Diogo Rosa Lã are responsible for the decoration, the building’s restoration and for maintaining a homely feel with a strong intimate environment. Each bedroom has its unique character and we enjoyed the distinct contrast between the bright colours of Lisbon found outside and the calm and dark sensation when returning to our room. Similar to any typical Lisbon house, it has a pàteo facing Rua de S. José, with a magnificent garden lined by trees, where guests can feel comfortable and relaxed, and order a drink from the bar or enjoy the afternoon while tasting the home made delicacies of the Afternoon Tea at “Sítio Valverde”.
During our all too short stay in this colourful city we manage to visit Tapisco where we sit at the bar and watch with delight as the barman prepares the signature house cocktails and the chef cooks some tapas and petiscos these delicious dishes from both side of the border are truly something not to be missed and are traditional flavours prepared by the chef with great attention to details. We hadn’t managed to enjoy an evening of fado so it was a welcome surprise to learn that Valverde offered a dining experience with fado. In words of Portugal’s foremost interpreter of this genre, Amália Rodrigues: “The only thing that matters is to feel fado. Fado isn’t meant to be sung; it simply happens. You feel it, you don’t understand it and you don’t explain it.” The “Sítio Valverde” Restaurant and Bar are full of character with its high ceilings faces the patio where guests can enjoy a meal or a snack any time of the day. Chef Carla Sousa offers a signature cuisine, focused mainly on Portuguese dishes. The Bacalhau with sautéed sweet potato, leek and dehydrated olives didn’t disappoint.
From the entrance and the reception, we were able to explore a series of intimate spaces, with a warm but sober decoration including unique pieces that give it a homely atmosphere. Facing the public promenade, the Lounge and Library reminded us of an old living room and guests will find it the ideal place for a chat, reading, a cup of tea or a pause between shopping sprees. In fact, Valverde offers a unique shopping experience - an extensive range of exquisite Portuguese porcelain will permit guests to extend the hotel atmosphere to their home, including a personalised selection for tea service (teapot, milk, sugar), cups of coffee, couvert dishes, candle cups and other pieces that are part of the hotel ambience. A good option for those who have little time to shop.
Departure come too early as our time in Lisbon is up. Waiting for our taxi to the airport, to head back home with TAP Air Portugal we relax in the Pàteo, with its terracotta flowerpots and exotic vegetation provided a last chance to enjoy the atmosphere of this lovely gem of a hotel.