Luxury Travel

Palácio de Ludovice: The residence of the King's architect is now a hotel in the heart of Lisbon


The noble building of the Ludovice Palace/ Palácio de Ludovice, which withstood the 1755 earthquake, is now a new five-star hotel where history, architecture, and wine intertwine. The project, located in São Pedro de Alcântara, was designed by architect Miguel Câncio Martins.

The Palace 

Ludovice Palace from the outside

The Ludovice Palace is an aristocratic residence located on the São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint, built in the 18th century and finished in 1747. The project is attributed to the architect João Frederico Ludovice, using materials left over from the work on the convent palace in Mafra. Notably, Ludovice incorporated the innovative anti-seismic wooden structure on the upper floors of the building, a technique previously taught at the school of risk in Mafra and later employed in the reconstruction of Baixa Pombalina. The palace served as the residence of the Ludovice family until the 19th century.

The palace features Baroque-style residential architecture, introducing notable innovations to the city of Lisbon. Located at the top of the Elevador da Glória, the building takes the form of a block with a homogeneous façade. As well as being a noble two-storey palace, it also has stores and income floors. It stands out for its baroque grandeur and dynamism.

In keeping with the tradition of Ludovice architecture, the emphasis is on the main façade, which is particularly striking on the central panel and on the 3rd and 4th floors. A distinctive feature is the presence of a sinuous balcony on the noble floor, bay windows with a decorated pediment and counter-curved and segmental pediments, adding a unique and elegant touch to the architectural ensemble.

Palácio de Ludovice tiles

The ancient walls covered in secularly preserved azulejos play a key role in telling the story of the extensive history of the Ludovice Palace, which now stands in the heart of Lisbon, transformed into an exquisite five-star hotel since last week. This palace, once the residence of the royal architect D. João V, known as João Frederico Ludovice, underwent a meticulous restoration process over approximately three years.

The result of this endeavor is a hotel that offers 61 rooms of various categories, each telling its own story, complemented by a restaurant lit by an almost invisible skylight. The space is decorated with lamps that seem to fall from the sky and enriched by vertical gardens that vigorously rise up one of the walls, giving the environment a unique and sophisticated atmosphere.

The hotel 

Hotel Room Paláco Ludovice

Hotel Room Palácio de Ludovice

The motto of Miguel Câncio Martins, the renowned architect responsible for projects such as the Buddha Bar in Paris, Opium in London and the Quinta da Comporta hotel, who now co-owns Ludovice with foreign investors, was to restore everything that could be recovered. In this sense, marble handrails and staircases, friezes, exposed donkey bricks, centuries-old tiles and plaster ceilings were preserved in their entirety, following a meticulous strategy in collaboration with the Directorate General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC). 

Before starting any intervention, comprehensive historical studies were conducted, covering areas such as painting, tiles and the structure itself, as well as archaeological aspects. Even at the end of the excavations, one of the oldest skeletons in Lisbon, dating back 5,000 years, was discovered. The sloping walls and V-shaped corridors, initially labyrinthine, add to the charm of the historic building that withstood the powerful earthquake of 1755. The Ludovice Palace, therefore, not only represents a restored masterpiece, but also serves as an inspirational landmark for the Pombaline reconstruction of the city, promoted by the Marquis of Pombal.

In times gone by, the 18th-century mansion, completed in 1747, has performed various functions throughout its life, housing a school, the police, the Portuguese institute dedicated to cinema, the Russian Embassy and the Solar do Vinho do Porto. In an allusion to its recent past, the wine hotel's affinity with wine is evident, whether in the carpets that evoke panoramic views of vineyards, including in the entrance hall, or in the wine cocktails served in the bar adjacent to the restaurant, whose menu seeks to represent the different regions of the country.

Reverence for João Frederico Ludovice is a constant presence in the hotel, starting with the portrait that comes from a photograph printed on an imposing metal screen, displayed in the reception area. In the 18th century, the architect arrived in Portugal on commission from King João V to design the historic National Palace of Mafra. According to Miguel Câncio Martins, in the current five-star hotel, there may be traces of materials that were not used in the construction of the convent.

Ludovice is also recognized as one of the architects responsible for the Águas Livres Aqueduct. This tribute reflects the historical and architectural importance of Ludovice's legacy, highlighting his significant contribution to Portugal's architectural landscape.

The five floors vary in size and height, with the highlight being the transformation of the roof into living space. In addition, a basement was added to house a gymnasium, requiring a remarkable feat of engineering that temporarily suspended the palace during construction. This amazing feat adds an element of wonder to the site's already fascinating architectural history.

The hotel has seven types of rooms, including three suites, which are divided into four distinct themes represented by the colors: beige, blue, pink and aqua green. From the Cozy Room to the Ludovice Prestige, each category reflects a unique atmosphere. All the rooms feature furniture designed by the architect and produced in Portugal.

View from the hotel to the federico restaurant

The views offered by the rooms are equally diverse: some windows offer a glimpse of the vertical garden that fills the interior atrium, while others open onto the bustle of the city. Despite the hotel's central location, effective soundproofing ensures that, with the windows closed, no unwanted noise penetrates the interior spaces, thus providing a peaceful and relaxing experience for guests.

Federico restaurant

The Federico restaurant, located in the asymmetrical cloister, stands out under the skylight that provides a continuous connection with the outside, encouraging guests to enjoy the vertical garden and the hanging lamps as they look up. Both at breakfast, which includes a traditional buffet, and at lunch and dinner, the space opens up to the outside. Miguel Câncio Martins describes the cuisine as a reinterpretation of Portuguese gastronomy with international touches, highlighting the predominant presence of wines, especially from the Douro, to accompany the meals.

The diverse menu includes Portuguese and French dishes, such as the typical Coimbra chanfana, served with truffled mashed potatoes and sprout foam. Among the options is a 24-month cured ham from a producer that supplies renowned chefs, including Alain Ducasse, and a peach panna cotta with late harvest ice cream.

The bar occupies the space of a former vault, featuring a specially designed counter that extends up to the brick ceilings that cover the vaults, reflecting the grandeur of the high ceilings. The vertical wine cellar built into the wall completes the bar's unique atmosphere. In addition, the Caudalie Boutique-SPA, with two rooms, offers facial and body treatments inspired by Caudalie's signature Vinothérapie protocols, while maintaining a harmonious connection with the outdoors.

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