Whatever you think of Nobel laureate and neuropsychologist Roger Sperry’s theories on left-brain versus right-brain from the mid-1900s, Lumen Hotel in Portugal is definitely designed to appeal to one of those sides of the brain. Back in the olden gendered days we would have said it’s very much a man’s hotel – masculine, technological, unfussy – but clearly that sort of thinking went out with leg-warmers. What we will say is that if you’re excited by science and tech and the thrust of the new, this is definitely one for you.
The stairs down to the patio are lit like a video from the 80s, while there’s a huge line of light from the ceiling of reception through the stairwell to the basement. In the rooms, even the floor-to-ceiling headboards in the rooms are panelled in tones designed to play with the light as it comes through the floor-to-ceiling windows through the day. It’s a clever theme and one that somehow manages not to seem over-egged.
The main attraction of this light display is the courtyard, a beautiful space reminiscent of MOMA in New York with wire patio chairs to bounce shadows on the floor, reflecting pools so you can see the sky and – at great expense: £300k and counting – huge projectors that throw a full son-et-lumiere show onto the walls, even the 10-storey whitewashed wall of the building next door. There’s the holding loop, usually themed, then a short seasonal show and every so often a full-scale history of Lisbon job, which sees the courtyard tiled in those famous Portuguese tiles then have a tram driven across it then some Roman architecture. Watch it while you have a great dinner in Clorofila, the main restaurant, with its huge terrace and stairs down to the patio.
But just because the tech is the big deal here (it’s clearly part of Lisbon’s avowed attempt to become a major European tech capital, which is what would explain the co-working corners and that courtyard light display, surely invented for creative types to play with), that doesn’t mean it’s not about design because it most seriously is. From the ceramics made to look like corigated steel in the entrance and the restaurant through the egg-yolk yellow bathrooms to the rooftop pool, lined with mosaic designed to catch the light at different times of the day turning it from red to orange to pink.
Rooms are simple with perhaps the biggest beds we’ve ever seen in a hotel: the pillows don’t even come close to each other and we reckon you could get three or maybe even four in without any discomfort at all, not that we tried. And, as you would expect, the lighting concept is front and centre with so many sources you really can create your own ambience. Oh and there’s wood, beech if we’re not mistaken, everywhere: on the walls in the corridors, in the entrance to the rooms, on the long bench for room-working, all of which warms the place up, softens it… for a lightness of touch just perfect right-brain types.