Britania Hotel and the glamour of the 50’s

 Britania Hotel and the glamour of the 50’s

A stage for big parties and social events, conspiracies and eccentricities

The hotel, designed by architect Cassiano Branco, opened with a great apparatus, being for several decades a meeting point that brought together several leading figures of society. Even today, its common rooms keep the memory of this hotel recognized for its impeccable service and national and international prestige, being frequented by high society, politicians and intellectuals.

Great parties and events of a social and mundane nature, of conspiracies, eccentricities and scandals took place there. It was also the stage of bridge championships and of luxurious meals served on the hotel’s terraces, where war documentaries were seen, where people danced and where the roulette was played clandestinely until dawn. Among the regular guests, we could see Manuel Fontes Pereira de Melo and his wife Rita, Tomás Ribas, Francisco de Sousa Tavares, Sofia de Mello Breyner, Count of Covilhã, Count of Lousã or the magnate Patiño. The actor Omar Shariff, a bridge lover, had also played at the Hotel do Império.

Married since 1950 to the hotel manager, Alfredo Machado, Natália Correia and her friends were a constant presence. From 1953, the couple took up residence on the 5th floor of nr. 52 on the same street, which became famous as a place for literary gatherings but also for the not less famous meals served there, coming from the Império Hotel, just across the street. Years later, and according to the testimony of Dórdio Leal Guimarães, Natália Correia isolated herself in the hotel to write the play «O Encoberto», which was prohibited at the time by censorship.

Political conspiracies also took place and the hotel received secret meetings with General Humberto Delgado, where in the months leading up to the 1958 elections Natália Correia and many other supporters were present.

More recently, writers and journalists like Assis Pacheco, Cardoso Pires, Batista Bastos, Joaquim Letria and the actor Raul Solnado were regular customers at the hotel’s Bar. Brazilian poet Vinícius de Moraes stayed here when he came to Portugal to participate in the Zip Zip TV program, as well as many other public figures including Vera Lagoa and Almirante Pinheiro de Azevedo after the 76 elections.

To respect the original building and to keep alive the memories of this unique hotel has been always guideline of the Hotel Britania, that has welcomed everyone for the last 77 years in the heart of Lisbon.

Photos: O Século, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian