|Project Name||The Rebello||Posted in||Hotels, Design, Interior Design||Location||
380 Cais de Gaia
4400-245 Vila Nova de GaiaPortugal
|Telephone||+351 22 002 8940||[email protected]||Completed||July 2023|
Hotels are traditionally rated on their level of service, range of facilities and quality of amenities. There are nevertheless other aspects such as character and ambience that are just as important yet usually overlooked in ratings as they cannot be quantified or enumerated. Take The Rebello, a new five-star hotel in the historic town of Vila Nova de Gaia across from Porto on the River Douro in Portugal; while it ticks all the boxes when it comes to luxury amenities, what makes it stand out is neither its spacious accommodations, personalized spa treatments or the signature cocktails served in the rooftop bar, but rather its unique character that channels the area’s industrial past through an artisanal lens.
Taking over a series of 19th-century industrial buildings on the banks of the River Douro, thoughtfully renovated by Lisbon-based architects Metro Urbe, the hotel pays homage to its industrial heritage as well as the city’s port wine industry – its name comes from the Portuguese word (rabelo) referencing the small wooden boat traditionally used to transport barrels of port wine – but does so in creative ways inspired by how artists and artisans have always used industrial spaces throughout history.
Combining clean lines and bold textures with site-specific installations, bespoke furnishings and original artwork, the hotel’s neo-industrial aesthetic, the work of interior designer Daniela Franceschini, founder of Lisbon-based Quiet Studios, invites guests “to reflect on the creative process” while staying in one of the 103 artfully curated apartment-style suites or taking advantage of its exceptional facilities which include a restaurant that tweaks traditional Portuguese dishes, two sumptuous bars, a Roman baths-inspired spa, and a concept store that doubles as a café and deli. Add in the spectacular views across the river to Porto, and it’s not surprising that The Rebello is already one of the city’s hotspots, only a few months since it opened in July.
Occupying a former kitchen utensils factory that had been left abandoned for some time, Bomporto Hotels’ third project in Portugal is spread across four buildings comprised of two restored stone-built structures and two newly-built buildings. While the hotel’s exterior is characterised by its austere, no-frills sensibility, the artfully curated interiors are much more layered, thanks to Franceschini’s harmonious fusion of artisanal craftsmanship, artistic creativity and modern design. Custom details designed by her studio, including bespoke soft furnishings and furniture, are mixed with bespoke installations and objects crafted in collaboration with local makers and artisans inspired by the property’s industrial past and the city’s shipbuilding heritage which is rather befitting as the hotel is located next to the city’s only remaining boatyard.
Nautical-themed elements abound, from the choice of colours, materials and textures, to the ceramic nets by Atelier Fig and a sculptural installation by studio THER in the reception that is made from re-used timber from the famous rabelos. The studio-made and artisanal-crafted custom designs are complemented by a collection of vintage furniture and objects and a curated art collection sourced from a host of local and international artists and galleries such as drawings by the Spanish artist Josep Maynou, plaster works by the Los Angeles- and Berlin-based Tomek Sadurski and ceramics by the Lisbon-based Joana Passos.
Despite the treasure trove of artistic and artisanal details, the hotel is characterized by an unpretentious sensibility and informal style. Take Pot&Pan restaurant for example, where chef André Coutinho’s menu of comfort food dishes perfect for sharing are served in pots and pans in homage to this former kitchen utensils factory. Made from local and seasonal ingredients, the short menu celebrates traditional Portuguese cooking with a modern twist featuring dishes such as Monkfish and Prawn Rice, Crispy Pork Belly & Clams, and a reimagined versions of Pudim Abade Priscos, the famous Portuguese caramel pudding.
Eschewing the decorative flair, pops of colour and buzzing energy of the other communal areas, the hotel’s wellness and spa centre is a soothing oasis of relaxation and serenity, swathed in earthy tones and natural textures, and elegantly furnished with custom-designed pieces by Quiet Studios. Offering holistic and signature massages and facial and bodily rituals, along with a tranquillity lounge, heated pool, sauna and fitness centre, The Rebello spa is designed to add another layer of pampering for guests during their stay.
The 103 apartments may vary in size, ranging from studio spaces, to one- and two-bedroom suites, to a three-bedroom penthouse, but they all share a sense of soothing tranquillity and subdued elegance underpinned by a muted palette of white, grey and beige tones, the use of walnut wood, and a curation of artworks and artisanal objects. The latter include ceramics by Grau Cerâmica and wool woven blankets by Burel Factory woven in ancestral looms and finished by hand, imbuing the spaces with a sense of traditional craftsmanship, as does a series of bespoke furnishings that pick up the nautical and industrial design themes that reverberate throughout the hotel – think sinks inspired by old water tanks and the organically shaped headboards that resemble the rippling waters of the Douro. Featuring soaring windows, fully-equipped kitchens and walk-in showers, plus balconies and terraces in some cases, The Rebello’s apartments are as welcoming to nomads, artists and entrepreneurs as they are to families vacationing in the area.