This year the Britania Hotel turns 75 years old!
Oct. 14 2019
In 1944 it was Hotel Império, today it’s Hotel Britania and celebrates its 75th anniversary!
Designed by the Architect Cassiano Branco, its inauguration on October 13th, 1944 as Hotel Império was widely reported by the press.
A special emphasis was given to the modernity of the building and the fact that the rooms are in reality, small apartments, with an antechamber, private bathroom and bedroom and in some cases with an extra parlor.
To honor the 75th anniversary we gathered our staff and our guests to celebrate the journey of experiences and preservation of Britania’s history.
Here we lived as a club that brought together great figures and here personalities with renowned names from high society – national and international – have come together. On these tables, books, poems, songs were written. It was most likely the setting for great stories of love, friendship and of moments that were part of recent history.
For this 75th anniversary, we reminded ourselves that respecting the building and keeping alive the memories of this unique hotel has been a great pleasure for us. The fascination lies in these memories and that was the reason why we wanted to share them with you, wishing that all those who come to us feel that they are also part of the history of this small Grand Hotel that in the heart of Lisbon has welcomed everyone for 75 years.
Come to Hotel Britania and appreciate the details!
“The light strained by the crystals of the beautiful and artistic chandeliers (…) makes these small “boîtes” of different shades charming” (Diário de Lisboa, 14th October, 1944).
Following the news and photographs of that period we’ve undertaken, 60 years later, the idea of the initial decoration and the different colors of the crystal in the chandeliers were the starting point for creating three color options that give the rooms completely different environments.
In this contemporary decoration, the great color stain of the fabric that always covers one of the walls of the rooms, subtly refers to the original 40’s decoration.
Bedroom floors restoration
In the bedrooms, the carpets were removed and a cork mosaic floor, which is very difficult to find nowadays, was exposed.
As it was 60 years ago when it was applied at the Hotel do Império, cork is again labelled as being a safe, comfortable and an ideal choice for our wellness.
Made in 1944 by the prestigious Mundet Factory, the cork mosaic bonds with the corridors and bathrooms marble floors, repeating the same geometric motifs typically seen in an Art Deco style.
The pavement restoration was carried out manually according to the original design and technique.
The furniture, made in the early 1940´s specifically for the Hotel do Império by Móveis Costa, from Porto, had all elements set over after several decades.
The beds made of solid mahogany recovered the purity of the original lines and for the remaining pieces of furniture, chrome fittings were designed and executed in the original modernist/deco style.
Built and inaugurated during World War II and as Portugal being a neutral country the clients of that time were mostly foreign diplomats.
The Hotel do Império offered impeccable service and had enormous prestige over several decades, as being frequented by high society, politicians and intellectuals.
Great parties and events of a social and mundane nature, of conspiracies, eccentricities and scandals took place there. It was also the stage of bridge championships and of luxurious meals served on the hotel’s terraces, where war documentaries were seen, where people danced and where the roulette was played clandestinely until dawn.
There were guests and regulars, among many.. Manuel Fontes Pereira de Melo and his wife Rita, Tomás Ribas, Francisco de Sousa Tavares, Sofia de Mello Breyner, Count of Covilhã, Count of Lousã or the magnate Patiño. The actor Omar Shariff, a bridge lover, had also played at the Hotel do Império.
Married since 1950 to the hotel manager, Alfredo Machado, Natália Correia and her friends were a constant presence. From 1953, the couple took up residence on the 5th floor of nr. 52 on the same street, which became famous as a place for literary gatherings but also for the not less famous meals served there, coming from the Império Hotel, just across the street. Years later, and according to the testimony of Dórdio Leal Guimarães, Natália Correia isolated herself in the hotel to write the play «O Encoberto», which was prohibited at the time by censorship.
Political conspiracies also went down, the hotel received secret meetings with General Humberto Delgado, where in the months leading up to the 1958 elections Natália Correia and many other supporters were present.
More recently, writers and journalists .. Assis Pacheco, Cardoso Pires, Batista Bastos, Joaquim Letria and the actor Raul Solnado were regular customers at the hotel’s Bar. Brazilian poet Vinícius de Moraes stayed here when he came to Portugal to participate in the Zip Zip TV program, as well as many other public figures including Vera Lagoa and Almirante Pinheiro de Azevedo after the 76 elections.
Hotel Britaniabelongs to the Lisbon Heritage Hotels that offers a collection of Small Boutique Hotels located in the historic center of Lisbon, in old houses or historic buildings. Owned by Portuguese families, they have come together to create intimate environments, where everything is thought to enhance the connection to the heritage and culture of the city.