Monday, 26 November 2012

Hotel Avenida Palace, the history (part VII)


For the last part of this “saga” we arrive to the current Administration. After a couple of years “decaying”, the time came to “rebuild” the old Palace, returning it to its past glory. The new decoration, preserving the original style, caught the attention of both Movie and TV companies and soon the Avenida Palace was the scenario for films such as “Chain Reaction”. 

“However, on the 1st of March, 1964, Soportel – Sociedade Portuguesa Hoteleira, Lda. (Portuguese Hotel Society) is established specifically for the purpose of purchasing the Avenida Palace from the Companhia Portuguesa de Hotéis.

The former is already in greatly degraded conditions. For two years, with the participation of the Gabinete de Planeamento e Arquitectura Carlos Ramos (Carlos Ramos Cabinet of Planning and Architecture), it is deeply renewed, and equipped with the latest technology, while maintaining the style of its time. 

The walls are covered by panels with soft and golden tones, the ceilings are alight with crystal chandeliers, and the chairs are lined with brocade. The stately staircase connecting the six floors is reminiscent of the old palatial scurrying. Harmony rivals with exquisiteness.

Nowadays, the hotel has 82 rooms, and 17 suites, one of the latter being a Presidential suite. The suites are spacious, and thematically decorated by eras: Louis XV, D. Maria, D. José, Empire, and British Colonial. The rooms, dressed with matching curtains and bedspreads, provide great comfort. We emphasise room 415 due to its baroque decoration. 

A centenarian of 109 venerable years of age, the hotel gradually evolved, and surpassed its original quality. All rooms are equipped with soundproof windows, air conditioning, direct telephone, safety boxes, and satellite TV. All suites have a Jacuzzi, as do some of the rooms, as well as a fax and a computer, which were installed in the latest remodelling.

The Reception Room, which is about 130 sq m, is decorated in classic blue and gold shades, and has made history in international cinematography. “The Count of Monte Cristo”, “Passage to Lisbon”, and “Chain Reaction”, starring Martin Sheen, as well as the Portuguese TV series “Sozinhos em Casa”, were filmed there. The stained-glass ceiling is highlighted by the red brocades lining the walls, and by long velvet curtains, also red, hugging the windows.

The walls of the dining room are lined with solid oak and satin, and the room provides a privileged view over the Avenida da Liberdade and Restauradores Square. It possesses all the requirements to provide exquisite meals. It no longer provides restaurant service, but maintains a room service. It is only opened for breakfast and special occasion official lunches. One of the Palace’s latest acquisitions was the foyer. During the 1998 remodelling, Lucien Donnat and João Chichorro turned the hall into an exquisite space overlooked by a stained-glass window. Just at its side, the bar is an invitation to dreamers and dilettantes. Each square meter has a story to tell.

They have seen spies and politicians, princes and plotters, forgers and goodwill men. While some wove political intrigues, others burnt passions, and fed impossible loves, amidst the lukewarm tediousness of palatial luxury. A temple of memories, the Avenida Palace has everything to deserve a visit. It is easily accessible, and well assisted by transports. It has ensured parking in the underground parking of the Restauradores, and half a dozen parking places just at the front entrance. The prices are those fitting a five star hotel.”

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