Luxury Hotels

PORTUGAL – 1

Cesar Silva lives up to his first name. He’s on a mission, a many-year mission, to expand the reach of his empire, Corinthia Lisbon. Since he became GM in 2019 he’s turned what was formerly a jewellery shop in the lobby of the 518-room hotel into a spectacularly successful chocolate shop, above.  He’s converted 19 suites into Lisbon Suites, taking their arch theme from Águas Livres Aqueduct, the 18km 18th century viaduct visible from one side of the 24-floor hotel. He’s also themed six other suites as Maritime Suites, with spectacular oval bathtubs by the windows, for that view.

The upgrading is part of the determination to take the hotel from pre-Covid 65% corporate to 65% leisure. There is an elegantly-modern ESPA, with a wet area that takes groups of up to ten at a time. Not surprisingly 50% of spa business is local, as is the case in  restaurants and bars.  SOUL, the indoor and outdoor-garden lounge-restaurant, serving Asian and Latin American food, has its own gin (as does Erva). The former 400-seat breakfast room has partly-metamorphosed into a Mediterranean, Olivae, with five millennium-old olive trees in its outside area.

And then there’s Erva. Oh what a delight, it works like a dream, living greenery and wood, a Josper grill right there as pride of place, chefs in denim-blue working nonstop. Saloon bar tables, mottled green-brown ceramics, oil and the like in wood bowls. Modern Portuguese, say Mushrooms in garlic, wine, and coriander to start, Bacalhau – roasted cod – with oven potato, greens, garlic chips and corn bread.  Whatever, head for the washrooms: their communal handwash facility is a multi-facetted scarlet sculpture. Alexander Calder without that artist’s characteristic mobile movement.

Mr Silva likes colour. Last night he hosted a hundred ambassadors and media to his two-monthly art cocktails to show off the hotel’s latest pop-up exhibition. Local Messias bubbly while looking at African queens depicted by artists from Angola, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe. See below.