Luxury Hotels

PORTUGAL – 2

It’s not so much a copy of the Met or the Louvre but a sibling. Four Seasons The Ritz Lisbon is a museum with unique characteristics.  In the New York building there’s a costume gallery. In Paris there’s a glass pyramid. In Lisbon there’s a blue running circuit, with a saffron-coloured outdoor gym and Pilates ball-sized spikey cactus, on the concrete rooftop of the eleven floor hotel. And there’s so much greenery, in the park outside and even in the front lobby, just inside the front door on Rodrigo da Fonseca, above.

Apparently in 1959, when the hotel was built, Les Grands Hotels Europeens paid the family of César Ritz for the right to use the Ritz name in Barcelona, Lisbon and Madrid. The 282-room Lisbon ‘Ritz’ is in Brutalist style and let’s face it, it is no classical beauty. But, like Frida Kahlo’s mesmerising eyebrows, it has long-remembered features. Outside, a curvilinear swimming pool and an additional, circular, restaurant were added three years ago (there’s long been a lowest-floor indoor pool, to complement the top-floor Lifefitness gym and Pilates studio – and, by the way, the gym has a full-scale complimentary continental breakfast for morning athletes). Indoors, with an outdoor entrance, a specialty gourmet restaurant was converted, magically, out of a meeting room. More on that tomorrow.

For now, let us look at the hardware. The Queiroz Pereira family who, working as Sociedade de Investimentos Imobiliarios SODIM, own the hotel, are obviously passionate about heritage. Downstairs in the high-ceilinged and much-marbled reception rooms, some walls are a kaleidoscope of woven tapestries, featured in the hotel’s Contemporary Art Collection app.  Girlahead’s favourite is the Centaur shown below, designed by J.  Almada Negreiros 1893-1970.

Upstairs, bedside lights in recently redone seventh floor premium bedrooms are exact copies of the hotel’s 1959 original, as are the room’s curved upper wall/ceiling joins. Girlahead had such features in 753, an end suite stretching across the building: it was notable, too, for its softest-grey colouring, a white marble bathroom that must have stretched all of seven metres, and the views from its three balconies. From bedroom, look across at Campolide residential, with the famous aqueduct somewhere out of sight. From the sitting room, look out to sea, and also down over Parque Edward V11 to the tall-tall roundabout statue of Marques Pombal, Governor of Lisbon 1750-1777 who redesigned Lisbon after its devastating 1755 earthquake.

For many years – 1979-1998 to be exact – this one-off hotel was managed by InterContinental and when it moved to Four Seasons it was not immediately best in town. That accolade went to Lapa Palace but then Orient-Express, as it then was, moved out. Lapa Palace morphed back into the chorus and Four Seasons The Ritz danced forward as centre-stage star and its twirled consistently ever since.

But now it is, certainly, time to break for food…