When João Rodrigues and his family decided to put down roots, buying a home with hotel attached, they were hardly expecting to happen upon an enchanting 18th-century building on the road that slopes around Lisbon’s Alfama district.
Yet happen upon it they did – and it’s this twist of fate that makes Santa Clara 1728 so special. A unique hotel, it dances to the day-to-day beat of its guests and varies hugely depending on the seasons, inviting visitors to move with it. There is a real sense of home here, thanks to the warm welcome, the relaxed atmosphere, the smell of freshly baked bread hanging in the air, the quiet contrast with the world outside.
The hotel was designed by Manuel Aires Mateus, who was keen to respect the history of the place and of Portuguese culture – a culture of artisanal masters, fine materials and traditional methods. Yet the influences of the past are given a contemporary makeover here, with the style simple and pure yet always comfortable.
The idea – shared by both designer and owner – was to promote the idea of Santa Clara 1728 as a place to live, rather than sticking to the standard hotel style. The two men had previously worked together on other hotels and both share values such as home, family, atmosphere, simplicity and respect for places and nature. Together, these principles make up what the two men call “Silent Living”, which has become their brand.
From a stylistic point of view, Santa Clara 1728 is about clean lines and getting as much natural light as possible into the rooms. Lioz marble, from the Sintra area, is one of the materials used, in addition to pine wood for the flooring and handmade tiles. The dining room is a celebration of sharing and intercultural exchange, capable of accommodating 20 people from breakfast through until dinner.
In the six spacious suites, which range from 50 to 70m2 and all have views of the River Tagus, every single feature is a study in attention to detail – excess has no place here, but the comfort of the guests is never compromised.
It’s why Rodrigues opted for B&B Italia/Maxalto beds designed by Antonio Citterio and natural cotton mattresses by Spanish company ALMA Natura, with the pillows and covers made in Portugal. Lioz marble is paired with pine wood and bronze-finished fittings by Cea Design in the bathrooms, emphasising the bright white of the ceramics. All of the sofas are made by Living Divani, while the tables and chairs are designed by H.J. Wegner and produced by Carl Hansen. Lighting designer Davide Groppi personally chose some of his best pieces for the project, including Moon, Simbiosi and Mira R, to ensure the atmosphere was just right in every spot.
Manuel Aires Mateus
ALMA Natura, B&B Italia/Maxalto, Carl Hansen & Son, Living Divani
Sivana Askayo, Nelson Garrido, Rence Kemps, Nikolay Ivanov