From Comporta to Avenidas Novas, how Sublime Lisboa occupied a mansion from the last century

Ana Cristina Marques, 28 may 2022, 11:48 

The second unit of the Sublime group is the result of a palace transformed into a 15-room boutique hotel in the center of Lisbon. With a new restaurant and concept, it pays homage to the aesthetics of the former owners.

O hotel com 15 quartos foi antes ocupado pelo projeto Casa Fortunato, considerado  o "melhor hotel de 2019" pela Mr. & Mrs. Smith
The 15-room hotel was previously occupied by the Casa Fortunato project, considered the “best hotel of 2019” by Mr. & Mrs. Smith

The entrance remains the same as the old Casa Fortunato – although the décor is different, the layout is unchanged and, once past the main door and the lobby, the reception is on the left. The graphic wallpaper that once covered the entire length of the room is no longer there, even though the final works prevent us from seeing the final result for the time being. And the former living room and dining room, where macrobiotic dishes were once served at the behest and taste of the owners, is now a restaurant which, with a fresh face, focuses on Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. The number of rooms has also grown, from nine to 15, but many things have remained and the aesthetic identity of what was once considered “the best hotel of 2019”, where even the owners wanted to live and did live, is still present. The early 20th century building, which has already accumulated so many functions with the passage of time, now has a new lease of life and will open as Sublime Lisboa by the end of May.

If the original Sublime Comporta aims to retain the spirit of that parish in the municipality of Alcácer do Sal, Sublime Lisboa wants to reflect the capital through a duality: what is traditional and, at the same time, contemporary. The imposing building was acquired from the previous owners in 2021 and the work, carried out by the Portuguese studio Andringa Studio, took a year. The major differences between the previous project and the new hotel are essentially on the first and top floors. The attic where the previous owners lived has been renovated to accommodate four very bright suites – two of them have large windows whose adjacent terrace seems to plunge into the silhouettes of Lisbon’s buildings. In addition to their obvious function, the beams in the windows serve as decorative pieces.

The previously existing bedrooms continue to display the graphic wallpapers that set the thematic tone: geometric patterns in shades of blue, green, orange and even pink. Equipped with living areas, they combine more modern details – such as the glass and iron walls, sometimes black and sometimes white, which serve as a partition between the room itself and the bathrooms, which given their size can still be called shower rooms – and others that inspire a vintage aesthetic, such as the whitish, flowery tiles next to the washbasins. In every room where overnight stays are possible, there is a wooden closet with one of the doors lined with wicker, designed by the aforementioned atelier. The rooms have been slightly altered, but much of their DNA remains identical.

An XXL statue by the artist Rui Chaves, yet to arrive on the day we visited the hotel, and many paintings by Yellow Korner, an online photography gallery that sells limited pieces in the low thousands, help tell the story of the Sublime concept and the facelift of this palace.

In fact, anything that wants to be different is noticeable, whether it’s the repurposed attic or the Davvero restaurant: the only thing that remained was the red and white mosaic covering the floor. The space is now divided into two areas, one next to the open kitchen where Isaac Kumi is in charge (he designed the menu together with Hélio Gonçalves, executive chef of the Sublime group), and the other more private. There are Italian-inspired suggestions on the menu – such as tagliolini au gratin with mushrooms, gragnano spaghetti with clams or homemade beet gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce, but also grilled sea bass and veal escalopes in lemon sauce with truffle puree. “We try to bring authentic Italian food by using local produce,” says Isaac, who gives as an example the burrata he gets from Porto, as its producers come from Puglia.

The wine list, designed by specialist Raul Riba d’Ave, includes the house wines (red, white, rosé, raw sparkling wine and purple muscatel from the Sublime brand, as well as gin and ginginha, which is in development), but also national and international references, plus classic and signature cocktails, rum and negroni on the bar menu. You can eat at Davvero from 7am to midnight. The menu varies according to the time of day – you can have breakfast with the guests, opt for a snack outside of meals or even head for Sunday brunch, between 12.30 and 4pm (65 euros per person). Reservations are advised at the restaurant, which has been in soft opening mode since April 26, where an average meal can cost 50 euros per person without drinks – the space also has a 24-seat terrace.

What is certain is that the 20th century palace continues to accumulate stories: it was once the residence of a doctor and his family, who at the time made the second floor their living space and left the first floor for local businesses. It was also home to the Japanese Club until the early 1940s and also housed the restaurant “O Candelabro”, owned by Simone de Oliveira, according to information provided by the Sublime group. More recently, it was an architecture studio. Now it opens at the end of May, already transformed into a charming hotel with 15 rooms facing cosmopolitan Lisbon.


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