Memmo Alfama’s Co-Founder and Managing Director.
Memmo Alfama is considered to be one of the best hotels in Lisbon and is the first boutique hotel in the city’s oldest neighbourhood, Alfama.
The hotel’s 42 bright and breezy rooms are inspired by a contemporary Scandinavian style, with Portuguese touches.
Memmo is still a hidden treasure, tucked away in a maze of cobbled streets, featuring a red infinity plunge pool with a bar and glorious views over Alfama and the Tagus River.
This stunning design hotel has mastered the art of local integration, offering a truly authentic Lisbon which you won’t forget.
A small but perfectly formed infinity plunge pool does the job after a hot day exploring this hilly city.
Glorious views over Alfama’s famous rooftops and the Tagus River.
It’s in Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood with lots of cute narrow streets and famous Fado restaurants.
Within easy reach of Lisbon’s centre, the hip Bairro Alto and the trendy Chiado.
Complimentary guided walking tour through Alfama.
There isn’t a formal restaurant onsite but they serve tasty Portuguese tapas.
There’s no parking space onsite but the hotel has a deal with a parking lot nearby.
Rooms are on the small side and so are most houses in Alfama. There are plenty of communal areas.
Accommodation and restaurant are for the exclusive use of people over 16.
No tea or coffee making facilities in rooms.
Tuk Tuk tours
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Memmo Alfama is located in the heart of the most typical district of Lisbon, Alfama – steps away from the Cathedral and the São Jorge Castle.
Don’t miss the hotel’s free 1-hour guided walking tours, which wind their way through Alfama’s labyrinth of narrow streets. It’s a great way to discover its hidden secrets and our guide was truly passionate about it all.
Chiado (1km), Bairro Alto (1.8km) and Principe Real (2.1km) are easily reached by the iconic tram 28 and you can explore all the 3 neighbourhoods by foot (mind the cruel steep streets).
If the sun is shining head to Cascais (28km) and enjoy its gorgeous sandy beaches and excellent restaurants.
Memmo Alfama’s Co-Founder and Managing Director.
Memmo Alfama prior to construction works. It used to be a shoe-polish factory.
Eight years ago, I challenged João Corrêa Nunes, my business partner and co-founder, to work out how we could kick off the Memmo project. The first thing we invested in was creating a brand. From the very beginning our aim was to be able to tell a story, and to have a mission and a soul.
Our logo, the ‘chameleon’ represents how we want to adapt the hotels to their environment. Our brand has a strong focus on our 3 core values: hospitality, great service, and remaining contemporary. We also focus on originality, which for me means doing the same thing in different ways. These aims are true for all of the Memmo collection hotels.
We picked Alfama because it is, in our opinion, Lisbon’s most authentic neighbourhood. At the beginning we weren’t sure about the exact concept for the hotel – all we knew was that we wanted to be in Alfama. We decided to be there seven years prior to finding the building, one year after opening Memmo Baleeira.
Our ambition is to showcase the most authentic aspects of each destination. Our tagline is “Unforgettable Hotels” so if you’re going to stay at Memmo Alfama the statement we are making is “You’ll never forget the authentic Lisbon”.
We felt it was going to be a challenge to build a hotel in a hidden cobbled street. It had everything we were looking for including the surprise factor – which is a reflection of Alfama itself. At first you walk into a new street without any expectation and then all of a sudden you come across an amazing view over the city. It makes you feel like you’re a bird.
Memmo Alfama was created out of two original buildings which were totally abandoned.
On the street just by Memmo’s entrance there’s beautiful mural which was created by Vhils (Alexandre Farto, a Portuguese street artist) which represents a working class local man.
One of the interesting things is the fact that we avoided the obvious. We could have gone down that route; you know, the ‘fado, the ‘azulejos’… the typical Portuguese characteristics. We wanted it to feel like your house in Alfama, not the museum of Alfama. We wanted our guests to discover the authenticity through the location. We decided to go down the contemporary route, which is unexpected.
You can already hear the fado in the streets, therefore we don’t need a big photo of Amalia Rodrigues (the most famous Portuguese Fado artist) on the wall. We also wanted to tell the story behind the building – for example, we have this photo on display which looks like two sculptures dancing, which was taken by the celebrated photographer Alexandre Coque. The photo itself was taken here, where his studio was based.
We have a mural of a working class local man which was created by the street artist Vhils who also created a mural for us in Baleeira. We want to be unique without being pretentious.
The architect, Samuel Torres de Carvalho, did a superb job in creating coherence between the two original buildings. The buildings were totally abandoned and I didn’t think it would be possible to create a hotel out of the space. It was a team effort – my partner João and Samuel, were key in making the concept a reality.
The rooms are small because everything in Alfama is small. The concept has always been ‘to create your house in Alfama’. Comfort is our number one priority – everything from the materials we have used to the beds and duvets. Each bed has 6 pillows. The colour palette is quite warm so it feels more like your own room than a hotel room. We have a strong focus on Portuguese products – in the mini bar we have Vidago water not Perrier and Super Bock, not Heineken.
What I love the most about walking around the streets is that it feels like going back in time – how it was to live behind the castle walls, on narrow streets with the neighbours talking from one window to another. Pretty much everywhere else, this feeling has been lost. Here locals still know each others’ names, whom married who and did what. It’s a big contrast with downtown Lisbon. Even if you’re new to the neighbourhood, people talk to you and invite you over. People make you feel welcome and you become part of the Alfama family.
The idea was for the swimming pool to blend in with the scenery as much as possible.
Rodrigo explains “You arrive, you’re tired, you want a shower – you can go straight into your room and check in when you’re ready.”
No, that’s not totally true. We already had the approval to build the swimming pool. It was Samuel’s idea because you can see the hotel from one of the main view points here in Alfama – Mirador de Santa Luzia. We didn’t want to break the coherence of the view. Even when you fly you can always notice swimming pools from the plane and we didn’t want that. The idea was for the swimming pool to blend in with the scenery as much as possible, not to distract from it.
We want people to feel at home. We offer a ‘check in later’ concept. You arrive, you’re tired, you want a shower – you can go straight into your room. You check in when you’re ready. It’s like getting to a friend’s house after a long journey, “go and chill, we can talk later”. We know the guest’s name, we don’t need anything else.
We also offer the “Memmo Walking Tours” where everyday at 10am our customers are welcome to join us for a complimentary tour of the neighbourhood.
It has – I grew up with hotels. My grandfather founded the Tivoli Hotels and my dad also always worked with hotels. I studied Business Management but not with the aim of working in hotels but once I worked at the Four Seasons, I realised, “this is what I want to do!”.
Back then the Managing Director of a hotel was more like a PR person but I have always loved marketing and creative concepts. It’s very important to know how to host people but I also love telling a story. I wanted to create a project for travellers, not for tourists. For me the traveller is that person that wants to try new things and that’s what captivates me. People can feel when there’s a passion behind what you do.
Vidago Palace is one of Rodrigo’s favourite hotels in Portugal.
One of Rodrigo’s favourite hotels abroad is the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai in Thailand, describing it as “spectacular, an unforgettable experience.”
The hotels that have the most impact on me are the ones that bring me back the most special memories.
Recently I visited Vidago Palace and Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, they’re fabulous hotels, full of authenticity and glamour, it’s like travelling back in time. They’re incredible! I also love Areias do Seixo, it is relaxed luxury.
I love the The London EDITION, which mixes a lot of concepts and values that I believe in. It is contemporary classic. Classic can be very heavy whilst contemporary gives it some balance. They’ve achieved that very well. It’s a very classic building with some design twists that give it a really cool vibe.
The Four Seasons Hotel Chiang Mai is spectacular – an unforgettable experience.
Next week I’m off to Morocco and I’m going to stay at a hostel, Surf Moroco Taghazouta, so it depends where I’m going to and what type of visit it is. If I’m going surfing with four friends I’m not interested in the quality of the bed or the comfort, I’m interested in the surf community and spending time with them.
It’s like having one kid and then having three. It’s by sharing the energy and the love a little bit with all of them and ensuring you’re still looking after the oldest one because it’s easy to be charmed by the youngest one. Getting away is also important, sometimes if you spend too much time at the hotel it’s possible for you to overlook certain details which you can then spot when you’ve kept a bit of distance.
Soon we will be opening another hotel in Principe Real (Lisbon). My mind has been busy thinking about what will differentiate Memmo Principe Real from Memmo Alfama. We can’t rely on the neighbourhood factor alone. It will be our most premium hotel, a 5 star hotel. I’m not too focussed on the stars but as our most expensive hotel, it needs to be the best. However, although cost is related to value, it is possible for a cheaper location to have more value and meaning to you.
The element of diversity is the biggest difference between a hotel collection and a hotel chain. A chain retains a linear concept – they all look the same and the experience is the same. It’s like when you buy a new watch for a collection. Each one is different and special in its own way.
It’s more challenging for us to open another hotel in Lisbon than in Porto but I love challenges.
Located in the heart of the most authentic neighbourhood of Lisbon – Alfama.
The closest airport is Lisbon Portela Airport. From there you can take a taxi, the metro or hire a car – or the hotel can arrange a transfer for you.
Lisbon (LIS) – 8km
Porto (OPO) – 317km
Faro (FAO) – 280km
Santa Apolónia train station is a 10-minute drive from the hotel, connecting to the major Portuguese cities.
We highly recommend using the well served public transport and by foot but be ware that Lisbon is a city of steep alleyways and tricky cobblestones. Memmo Alfama is at the very end of the cobbled alley. Public parking near the hotel costs €15 a day, including valet parking (it’s best to drop your bags off at the hotel first).
Hop on the famous yellow tram 28 just around the corner from Memmo, the perfect way to discover the most interesting aspects of Lisbon’s historical and architectural heritage.