Set incongruously alongside the River Tagus behind the cavernous Kais restaurant and near Santos railway station, Urban Beach was created, in part, to spruce up the City’s tatty-looking Viscondessa quay. It also helped revitalize the entire area and answered the need for a chic and snazzy “seaside” venue easily reached by foot from the City's center, a place where urbanites could relax and socialize in comfortable and stylish surroundings.
The facade of Urban Beach, complete with "sand" and "palm" plantation — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
The low, oblong building - its facade emblazoned with huge yellow letters spelling out the club’s name - is an architectural eye-catcher and takes advantage of a fabulous esplanade location replete with a waterfront panorama. The sweeping views take the busy harbour and the south bank.
Urban Beach is one of the hottest nightlife tickets in town, and its success works on several levels.
As a bar, it captures the imagination with its fresh and minimalist, open plan design. The wood deck terrace skirting the balcony is furnished with soft, ivory-white chaise longues and velvety, marshmallow pouffes. During the summer months, this space generates a lovely, lazy day atmosphere and draws a late-afternoon sundowner crowd. Even out of season, this riverfront haunt is a wonderful place to soak in the winter sun over a coffee and a nip of brandy.
Urban Beach is also a sushi crowd-pleaser. Understated it may be, but the Sakana Restaurant is nevertheless highly regarded for its Japanese cuisine. Actually, Sakana is a Japanese term referring to food eaten as an accompaniment to alcohol, and portions are therefore small and not served with rice.
But the refined and discreet atmosphere easily makes up for any menu shortfalls. The kitchen is open from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., and the late hour is a suitably conducive raison d’être to venture into the night and experience Urban Beach for what it was really designed for – as a über cool dance club.
Serious clubbers don’t bother turning up much before 2 a.m. Up until this magical hour, the soundtrack is fairly benign – smoochy soul and mellow R&B layered with downloads of selected pop-ish numbers. Later on, though, the music takes on a more urgent vibe and the floor becomes the realm of a younger, sassier and more fashionable throng that keeps on going until dawn.
And before you ask, yes, there is a sandy beach – of sorts. The winding, lantern-lit causeway leading up to the club’s glass-fronted entrance is fringed by an acceptable artificial effort made all the more attractive by the neat plantation of illuminated canes that resemble fairy-lit palms swaying in a tropical breeze. Well, use your imagination.