Porto’s historical downtown is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it’s ok to touch the buildings anyway. Take for example the former Armazém warehouse, where once upon a time ironmongers came and went.
The Armazém Luxury Housing Hotel is located right in the historic heart of Porto, on the picturesque Rua das Flores pedestrian zone, conveniently close to several points of interest.
Armazém Luxury Housing – A boutique hotel with atmosphere
Dating from the 19th century, the warehouse (“armazém” in Portuguese) faces on a small square named Largo de São Domingos. It was used to warehouse iron implements – until Fernanda Gramaxo chose it for her boutique hotel’s building shell.
Much of the old, impressive Porto housing stock is deteriorating. But chances are that behind a nondescript building facade you will come across a lavish, well-executed renovation.
Nobody would ever suspect that behind the unassuming house front with the number 74 hide some lovely lodgings. I would have missed it – had it not been for the discreet signage.
The hotel, in addition to a reception desk staffed around the clock, offers a lounge with a large LCD TV and a sidebar with select port wines.
The restaurant for breakfast or dining is located in the basement, and you can take the air upstairs on a small roof deck. It is completely done in exposed concrete and unfortunately turned out a bit on the small side.
Also, it only offers a view of the surrounding, modest apartments. Or a peek into the adjoining hotel rooms.
Rooms to feel at ease in
Between the breakfast – dining room in the basement and the roof terrace, a striking steel staircase connects the rooms. It picks up on the history of the erstwhile ironware business. In the elevator and the decor, much use is made of steel and iron.
It’s easy to feel at ease in the room: the materials and the color palette harmonize very well!
The air-conditioned rooms come with electric kettles. WLAN is available throughout the hotel and it is free.
Interior architecture with “personality”
It took Porto’s own architecture studio Pedra Líquida (aptly “liquid stone”?) 3 years of construction to turn the former ironmonger business into a charming boutique hotel.
Credit for the interior design goes to the architect Luís Sobral, and for the furnishings to Armazém Luxury Housing’s owner, Fernanda Gramaxo. Her daughter also already is actively at work behind the reception desk as we noticed during our check-out.
Sobral regards giving the architecture a “personality” as his biggest challenge in designing a hotel: how can local materials be integrated to best effect and how can you surprise the guests?
While he refined the interior design, Gramaxo the owner chose the furniture and textiles. She let herself be inspired by the building’s industrial past and looked to create contrasts and complements.
So, for example, she bought pieces of furniture from Turkey and India, to help establish a touch of shabby-chic and the vintage look. Linen and velvet cover the fronts of en-suite bathrooms and the stowage spaces.
Heavy velvet drapes in muted colors protect hotel guests against Portugal’s sun glare. Many walls are left uncovered to reveal their original roughness.
“Home” away from home
Overall, the mix of old walls and new buildout turned out very well: exposed concrete, steel, pine wood, and old stone create a solid, appealing atmosphere with urban industrical chic. I found the rooms to be very comfortable!
Moreover, the reception staff was always good for a chat. Every evening, they also had a little present ready for us, be it in the form of pasteis de nata, those famous Portugues tartlets, or small cream puffs.
It’s nice to come home to; and so to all a good night!
“Amazing” Porto location
The Armazém is right around the corner from the Rua das Flores, a street chock-full of bars, cafes, and restaurants. In this attractive neighborhood, tourist attractions like the Ribeira district or the Torre Clérigos are just a few minutes’ walk away.
At the Torre, you can also catch a public viewing, say when there happens to be a World Cup or European Championship…
Here are my other 13 tips for a Porto city trip centered on the hotel.
Armazém Luxury Housing
Largo de São Domingos, 74