The humble fig tree is the inspiration behind one of Lisbon’s newest hotels: The Beautique Hotels Figueira.
Overlooking Praça da Figueira, a handsome square situated in the heart of the Portuguese capital, this superior four-star boutique property has caught the imagination of the public and won plaudits from the hospitality industry for its striking, signature contemporary design and exceptional level of customer service.
Figueira means "fig tree" in Portuguese, and it’s this empathy with the flowering plant and its “forbidden fruit” that internationally acclaimed designer Nini Andrade e Silva has drawn on to create an interior of extraordinary form and beauty.
The spa at Beautique Hotels Figueira — Photo courtesy of The Beautique Hotels Figueira
Andrade e Silva has crafted a giant “fig-tree” that takes root in the lobby and subsequently meanders throughout the entire building to reach the top floor, or “canopy,” sprouting new branches on each level along the way in geometric and curvilinear proportions. The hotel's certainly daring in its concept.
The result is an environment that appears organic in structure, a living skin that one guest has eloquently described as resembling burnished pewter, a look that’s made even more realistic by images of leaves and plump, ripe fruit projected onto the walls of the public spaces. De-saturated hues of charcoal grey, earthy, chestnut brown and soft lawn green reinforce the natural expression.
One outstanding example of Andrade e Silva’s creative clout is found in the washroom on the first floor, where she has carefully sculptured a washbasin to resemble an open fig. She’s even managed to reproduce the rich colors of the pulp with an inlay of flecked scarlet and mustard.
The 50 rooms (one of which is adapted for visitors with limited physical capacity) are divided into four categories: Standard, Superior, Deluxe and Premium. There are no suites. The design characteristic is carried through to each, and the hotel is compact enough to afford an employee per room – a premium service rarely found at a four-star unit.
Guest facilities extend to a spa buried deep within the canopy. Here, the look is deliberately warm and intimate, a minimalist den that hides a sauna, Turkish bath and two beauty and treatment rooms. The allure is heightened by some extraordinary views of Castelo de São Jorge and the vibrant city center seen through the “branches” of the tree.
Respected chef Olivier da Costa has conceived the menu at the hotel’s 80-seat Honra restaurant. His passion for traditional Portuguese “grandma” cuisine and insistence on using the freshest local ingredients means residents and visitors can enjoy seasonal town and country gastronomy, a choice complemented by an arm-long wine list that features some of the most respected labels in the country.
While Honra has already established itself as one of Lisbon’s fine dining hot spots, the restaurant is also recognized for its afternoon tea service, when specialty pastries and cakes are served. The adjacent bar, the style of which is another exceptional example of Andrade e Silva’s unbridled imagination, is garnering a reputation as a funky cocktail hangout.
Manuel Barbosa, director of The Beautique Hotels Figueira, believes this new accommodation “offers the traveler the opportunity to experience the many sides of Lisbon,” whether from a cultural, gastronomic or urban perspective.
“It is the starting point [from where you can] discover what is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world," says Barbosa.
Nini Andrade e Silva agrees, and says that a stay here will provide the visitor with a unique experience, a sensation that begins when moving through the interior of the hotel . . . from top to bottom.