A grand affair: inside the boutique bathroom of a luxurious Lisbon hotel

This former family home in Lisbon has been transformed into a stylish boutique hotel, complete with a luxurious master suite

Space is the new luxury, that’s been our motto,’ says Gail Curley, owner and designer of Palácio Principe Real boutique hotel in Lisbon, Portugal.

Real life homes: A grand affair
A GRAND AFFAIR A freestanding roll-top bath with polished exterior from Drummonds takes centre stage in this hotel suite, where it is teamed with a Portuguese marble floor

Gail and her husband, Miles, already owned several apartments across the city when, four years ago, they came across this 19th-century property, which spans 25,000 square feet.

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Real life homes: A grand affair
ROOM WITH A VIEW This master suite has an open-plan living space with a freestanding roll-top bath that’s central to the design

And while they weren’t planning on investing in another property at the time, they fell in love with its architecture and decided to restore it and turn it into a 28-bed hotel.

Real life homes: A grand affair
CLASSIC BEAUTY A traditional-style bath and shower mixer sits on an H-stand and mirrors the silvery tones of the bath itself

Once the necessary planning permissions were approved, Gail set about designing each of the rooms, and the couple visited a furniture fair in Valencia for inspiration and to meet suppliers. ‘It was a very organic process, which was a real treat,’ says Gail. ‘Many of the people I met came from family-run businesses, so were able to recommend others to us that they knew and trusted.’

Real life homes: A grand affair
FIRST LIGHT Large original windows on both sides of the room allow for daylight to flood through the space

The master suite is particularly striking. ‘The space used to be a ballroom where lots of parties were once held,’ explains Gail, ‘and we wanted to bring it back to its former glory.’

Real life homes: A grand affair
PERIOD DRAMA Sophisticated decor is sympathetic to the building’s original 19th-century features, while different levels of the help zone the space

Modern features, such as air-conditioning, heated flooring and a powerful shower, were installed to add to the sense of luxury, and a divide to hide the shower and toilet was added for privacy, while keeping the space open plan.

Real life homes: A grand affair
SILVER PLATE Polished nickel finishes on all the brassware give a consistently glamorous look to the master suite

Ensuring the décor sympathetic to the original features of the building was important to the couple, so a greyscale floor – against pale peach walls – was applied to reflect the ceiling’s black detailing. ‘We opted for Pele de Tigre, which is a local Portuguese stone that has distinctly dark veining,’ explains Gail.

Real life homes: A grand affair
TIGER STRIPES The shower enclosure is clad with Pele de Tigre marble, a local, dark-veined Portuguese stone

A freestanding cast-iron bath was a must-have in the scheme, with plenty of space surrounding it so that guests would feel relaxed in the light and airy room.‘We could have made this into three or four standard-sized rooms, but we wanted to maintain the spaciousness people would have had when this was a family home.’

Real life homes: A grand affair
TEST OF TIME Traditional fixtures in the bathroom offer a classic look in keeping with the grandeur of the building

The master suite has a calm and elegant feel to it, with light flooding through large windows from both sides. ‘The window nearest to the shower overlooks the beautifully landscaped gardens,’ says Gail. ‘It really is a serene place to be.’

Real life homes: A grand affair
THE BIG SOAK With a polished exterior, the Tay bath by Drummonds creates a stylish design statement
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A labour of love, after several years of renovating and decorating, the hotel is set to open in late May.

Professional profile:

Q&A with Miles and Gail Curley, owners 

How did you plan the layout? It was always our intention to maintain the original features of the house, so we had to work around them. We wanted to create a feature of the bath, which is placed in the middle of the room where a piano used to be. We raised the floor in the bathroom to add heated flooring, which also helps to distinguish the area from the bedroom. The shower and toilet are hidden for privacy. 

Where did you draw inspiration from? Over the years we’ve lived in Madrid, Singapore, London and now Lisbon, and we’ve tried to bring what we feel is the best from each place. I don’t believe you can beat the bathrooms in Britain, so that’s why we went to Drummonds. All of our bed linen, furniture, wardrobes and stone has been sourced locally from various specialists in Portugal. And we learned about service from our experiences in Asia: you are well looked after there and that’s what we aspire to achieve. 

Any challenges along the way? It took time to get all the planning permission we needed, and there were restrictions we needed to work around. For example, the ceilings are so high that we were unable to put pipework up the walls, so all of the water, electrics and air-conditioning systems had to come up through the floor.