Please, Do Tell is a believer that a hotel has the power to make a difference in the life of a traveler and in this series we will talk to hotel entrepreneurs that are changing the way we travel. It all starts with a goal, a passion or a dream in the space of hospitality industry – interviewing hoteliers and talking deeper about their journey will give us insight on what it means to own a hotel and be in a position to make an impact.
We are kicking off this series with Isaac, founder of The Lisboans, a hotel in the center of Lisbon, Portugal on a mission to help guests embrace slow-travel. I had the honor to personally work with Isaac in Lisbon and I couldn’t be more excited to launch this series with this interview. There’s nothing more perfect than meeting someone who speaks truth to what you read. What Isaac and his wife have created is a real gem and to be honest, I wouldn’t stay anywhere else in Lisbon.
Please tell us your name and the name of the hotel and location.
My name is Isaac Almeida. The hotel is The Lisboans and is located in a residential street, very close to the heart of the city center – Baixa but removed just enough to guarantee a villagelike quiet.
Talk to us about the property.
After a thorough and extensive renovation, The Lisboans opened in the second half of 2016. In short, The Lisboans Apartments used to be an abandoned factory of candied fruit, preserves, and biscuits, which we turned into an apartment hotel, as well as a farm-to-table restaurant Prado Restaurant and a traditional grocery store Prado Mercearia.
The building itself was a real case of rising from ruins: a derelict 19th-century edifice, convert it into an apartment building with 15 units: 10 one-bedrooms and 5 two-bedrooms. merging traditional with modern aesthetics.
Every apartment showcases its own exclusive interior design, featuring vintage and contemporary furniture, customized handmade tiles, hand-picked pieces from antique shops or flea markets, Portuguese folk art and handcrafted textiles made by Portuguese artisans. The result is a kind of fusion that creates a stylish, distinctive and unique atmosphere, but with a real Portuguese touch.
What was the inspiration behind the hotel?
Our own home.
We want that our Guests feel they arrived a place that’s very homey. They are welcomed by our Team into our office, our home base, where we all are. It’s so comfortable and un-officelike that sometimes, people even think they’re walking into a design studio or even an apartment. Because all in the Team are friendly, and friends, and family. So that comes across. People start feeling the comfort of our home right from the get-go, while we check them in, to the sound of the music we all like to listen to. Then, when we finally show them into their apartments, we want them to just let their shoulders down and make themselves at home. And the environment we curated and created and can be felt in the same way in each individual unit, makes them feel exactly that. We witness it first hand, each and every time. They know, and feel, this will be their home in Lisbon.
What is special about The Lisboans?
We wanted to make something that would capitalize on the fact that Lisbon’s been a tourism magnet, but we wanted to make a difference. We wanted to make something that made tourists feel at home. But not in an AirBnB way. We want to mix a different, mainly upscale clientele, but also interesting, arty, diverse, and that feels comfortable with our informal, sometimes familial even, approach and warmth. Depending, obviously, on how close our Guests want us to get. Sometimes, some even end up becoming friends. When the intention was just finding a place to stay while in town.
Who was the interior designer of the hotel
Marta Fonseca, Tânia Fonseca, and Isaac Almeida
How are you impacting the way people travel?
We like to establish a relationship with our Guests, whenever possible and according to their own personalities, of course.
But the way we see our business, we’re here to slow our Guests down. During our time off, we don’t rush to go anywhere. So, neither should our Guests. If they want to go to a certain spot, we tell them to skip the tourist-filled shortcuts. Even if it means taking a long way, that’s our advice. By the same token, if someone told them to take an unnecessary route to somewhere, we suggest otherwise. We really tell our Guests what we think, we share our personal experiences with them… The funny thing is our team doesn’t always agree on what to suggest, so we often engage in a friendly debate in front of our Guests, since we really want them to live Lisbon the way we do it, and that’s why we tell them to go to the same restaurants and bars we go to ourselves.
That is reflected on the bespoke city map we designed since it’s made of our personal tips and experiences. The best reason we find to convince our Guests to slow-travel is that, sometimes, the best way to connect is to just… turn off and let go.