EXPLORED_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

It’s early in the afternoon when I cross Campo Clara, a square which is home to the famous flee market Feira da Ladra twice a week.  When I lived in Lisbon a few years ago, I spent many hours wandering this market, looking for second hand treasures, but today I have a different goal.  I’m heading to Santa Clara 1728, a hotel hidden in an old convent on the often busy plaza.  Once I step foot inside the majestic entrance hall, the lively city couldn’t seem further away though.  

Santa Clara 1728 - Campo de Santa Clara 128, 1100-473 Lisbon - website - facebook - instagram 

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

 

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Over a coffee in their serene dining room, João Rodrigues, who owns Santa Clara 1728 together with his brother Andreia, tells me how he accidentally ended up in the hotel business.  “A decade ago, we asked our good friend Manuel Aires Mateus (one of Portugal’s most notorious architects) to design a weekend home for our family.  The result was Casas na Areia, named “houses on the sand” after their infamous sand floors which connect the living room and kitchen to the surrounding nature reserve.”  The family’s holiday home was chosen to represent Portugal at the at the Venice Bienal of Architecture 2010, so when the Rodrigues family decided to turn it into a hotel (as they weren’t using it as much as they’d hoped), it was an immediate success.  Guests marveled at how the sand floors oblige them to not only slow down their steps, but also their mind, turning a stay at Casas na Areia into an almost meditational experience.

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

A few years later, João acquired two former fishermen cabins and again asked Aires Mateus to turn them into a holiday home, now known as Cabanas no Rio, cabins by the river.  One thing led to another, and with the help of their favorite architect, the Rodrigues family turned their grandfather’s farm into Casa no Tempo and transformed the Lisbon convent, one of the few buildings in the city that survived the devastating earthquake of 1755, into a breathtaking hotel.  It’s the latter where we’re seated today and I get the chance to have a taste of Silent Living.  Even though all projects differ in typology and were never meant to form a whole, there’s a red thread connecting all of them: a lack of distractions, respect for  materials, landscape and history, and a sense of coming home.

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

In Santa Clara 1728 you can take coming home quite literally, as João and his family live on the two upper floors themselves. Here you won’t find a formal check-in desk or a typical breakfast buffet.  Instead you’re welcomed as if you’re a long lost friend and meals are served on a long communal dining table, inviting you to mingle with the other guests.  “We left room for imperfections, as we don’t want our guests to feel as if they need to be careful to touch anything”, João explains. No wonder hotel guests feel comfortable enough to wander the building barefoot, sometimes even dressed in their pajamas.  Although perfection was never the goal, nothing seems out of place at Santa Clara 1728. The authentic arches and marble staircase, formidable craftsmanship, exquisite choice of materials and humble design furniture, all executed in a palette of neutrals, work together to create a heavenly atmosphere.  Decorations are limited to fresh flowers, carefully selected coffee table books and independent magazines, a few handmade ceramics and an occasional painting.  This building might not be a convent any more, Santa Clara 1728 is a modern-day temple of silence that I’ll happily devote myself to.

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Before I’m shown to my room, João tells me that Manuel Aires Mateus initially wanted to create fifteen hotel rooms in the former convent.  “We opted for six suites instead, each with a view over the river.”  That statement should have warned me on the space I’m about to step foot in, but I’m still overwhelmed when I enter my room for the night.  I’m amazed by the light that floods the room, before noticing the magnificent view over the Tejo and the National Pantheon.   Next, I’m in awe with the spacious bathroom, with its bathtubs and bathroom sinks cut out of a single piece of Portuguese Lioz limestone and a view over the peaceful hotel garden.  

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

While I love Lisbon and never feel like I can spend enough time there, exploring the city is the furthest thing on my mind once I’m settled into my room.  I’m as content as can be, watching the boats glide over the Tejo from my bed, reading in front of the window, enjoying a candle lit bath and snacking on the delicious homemade treats that are waiting 24/7 in the kitchen downstairs.  The only reason I eventually leave the hotel, is to meet a friend for dinner at nearby Damas and even that won’t be necessary anymore in the future, as Santa Clara 1728 will soon launch Ceia, their new dinner concept where 14 guests will be able to join the enormous table for an exquisite meal.

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

 

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

It’s at that very table that their chef José awaits me the next morning with a three course (!) breakfast, made of ingredients that are mostly sourced from their farm at Casa no Tempo.  When you know that the dishes are inspired by Antwerp’s Graanmarkt 13, a restaurant widely known for its extraordinary vegetable dishes, you shouldn’t be surprised that this breakfast is a feast for all senses.

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

It’s with a heavy heart that I check out of Santa Clara 1728.  João told me that a child once described the hotel as the house of an angel, and I couldn’t agree more.  It might have been the instafamous bathrooms that convinced me to stay here, it’s the splendid service, the exquisite design and the remarkable sense of serenity that made me fall in love with this extraordinary hotel.  Waking up to the view over the river was my personal cherry on the proverbial cake, as the Tejo holds a special place in my heart ever since I lived in the city of Lisbon.  However, the list of things I hold dear in the Portuguese capital is an ever growing one and in the past 24 hours, Santa Clara 1728 effortlessly made its way to my heart.

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

 

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

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This stay was kindly gifted to me by Santa Clara 1728.  All opinions are 100% my own.  Thank you for supporting partners that allow me to introduce you to new destinations!

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Flying is bad for the planet, so I compensated my flight's carbon footprint through Treecological. Consider turning your travel into trees as well and do the planet a favor!

3 Comments

  1. Ineke July 1, 2018

    OK, als ik eindelijk in Lissabon geraak, dan blijf ik hier so-wie-so!

    Reply
    • Hannelore Veelaert July 2, 2018

      Geen goedkoop adresje maar wauw, het is zo’n ervaring dat dit voor mij echt goud waard is!

      Reply
  2. Ingrid July 3, 2018

    Wat een prachtige locatie en verwennerij! Heerlijke stad ook, wij waren er vorig jaar😍

    Reply

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