Montebelo Vista Alegre — Ílhavo, Portugal

Exterior view of the Montebelo Vista Alegre hotel. Modern-looking concrete building with a wide driveway, and a lawn with red flowers in the middle.
(Image credit: TBC)

Restored at a cost of over €13.3m, the whimsical Montebelo Vista Alegre Ílhavo Hotel is the latest salvo of the ambitious Terreiro da Vista Alegre – a complex that includes a clutch of national monuments, theatre, museum and retail boutiques. 

The hotel’s 82 rooms have been inserted into two distinct buildings that are joined by a black metal spiral staircase and a common wall of local red stone. 

The late 17th-century Palácio features ten gloriously restored rooms, one of which leads out to the balcony of the adjoining original chapel, whilst the newer rooms in the contemporary building – the best ones face the River Boco – provide an unexpectedly playful counter-note. The latter is provided by the hotel’s creative consultants and designers Sam Baron and Isabel Abreu who worked closely with architects Paula Nunes and Tiago Araujo, and a team of local painters and potters to swathe entire walls and floors with porcelain bowls and saucers, and delicate hand-painted silhouettes of birds and butterflies.

Meanwhile, the in-house restaurant cleaves close to Portuguese standards. Bacalhau, or salted cod, appears with a crunchy sausage crust and risotto, whilst eel stew, octopus with rice, and seafood stew round off a rather tasty prelude to a nightcap by the outdoor swimming pool with views of the Aveiro lagoon.

Exterior view of the Montebelo Vista Alegre hotel pool area, which looks over a river with a bridge.

(Image credit: TBC)

Interior view of the Montebelo Vista Alegre hotel room. Large bed with white linen and a headboard that covers the entire wall, in gray and beige tones, with a desk and a chair on the side.

(Image credit: TBC)

Interior view of the Montebelo Vista Alegre bathroom. Wide tub with a skyline window above it, sink area to the right with a mirror that goes up to the ceiling.

(Image credit: TBC)

Inside pool in the Montebelo Vista Alegre hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows on the right, next to which we have a sitting area in gray and beige tones.

(Image credit: TBC)

Restaurant area in the Montebelo Vista Alegre hotel. Wide tables covered in white linens, with a gray sitting area that stretches from wall to wall, and white chairs on the other side.

(Image credit: TBC)

Entry area in the Montebelo Vista Alegre hotel. A large, dark gray rug covers a portion of the beige marble floor, with light cream chairs and two wooden desks with flowers on them.

(Image credit: TBC)


Lugar da Vista Alegre
3830-292 Ílhavo


Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.