A Conversation with Alida about B28 Apartments in Porto
Alida is the owner of B28 Apartments, seven beautiful and spacious serviced apartments tucked away on a lovely street in the historic centre of Porto.
“I fell in love with the building, the staircase, and the back entrance door that faces the steps of Escadas da Vitória.”
– Alida, owner of B28 Apartments
We loved our stay at B28 Apartments. We were impressed with how spacious and airy the apartments were. How did you find this building, and what drew you to it?
I’m really glad you enjoyed your stay. At the start, I was on the lookout for a building with a garden at the back. However, all the places that I went to look at were in really bad condition. Eventually, I came across this building which, even though it was pretty rundown, still had many original elements which could be rescued. And that’s not to mention the breathtaking views from the 4th and 5th floors.
I can tell you that it was love at first sight. I fell in love with the building, the staircase, and the back entrance door that faces the steps of Escadas da Vitória on the third floor. And after that, we had many other nice little surprises. I wanted to restore the stucco ceilings, the foyer, and the roof lantern, which was decaying but still capable of lighting the staircase.
I have always liked this part of Porto. It’s an area that was degraded for so long, even as far as I can remember. When I was little, I used to come to downtown Porto with my grandmother. She’d go to the hairdressers, and then we’d go for lanche (Portuguese afternoon snack) at Costa Moreira or to Leitaria da Quinta do Paço (these are two of Porto’s most classic confeitarias, or pastry confectionaries). Then there was always some shopping to do, errands, etc. We’d visit Rua das Flores and Largo dos Lóios up to Rua 31 de Janeiro, Santa Catarina, doing all of this while listening to my grandmother's stories.
How did you go about choosing the right architect for the project?
I chose Architect José Bernardo Távora because I was sure he would be able to keep the building’s character. He has huge respect for popular architecture, and the aim was to bring back this building’s previous splendour.
I’m against the facadism trend (when façades are maintained but the interior is completely rebuilt). I think it’s important to keep the identity, to wholly respect old buildings.
How long did the renovation process take? What were the biggest challenges?
I purchased the building in May 2012, and I only opened B28 in August 2018. It was a long process with a lot of setbacks. But in the end, we got there and achieved what we wanted.
The actual construction work took two years, from 2015 to 2017. Afterwards, it was the licensing. This renovation was conducted with extreme caution. It’s almost like giving birth, giving it life and seeing it growing up. That’s the feeling B28 gives me.
“The way the renovation was done is this house’s biggest luxury.”
– Alida, owner of B28 Apartments
Did you have any prior experience in the hospitality sector before starting B28?
I didn’t have any experience in the tourism sector. I’m academically trained in Financial Management, but I always liked to travel, and I knew what I wanted for this project: something pretty simple, giving priority to comfort. Yet, everything required for the function of the house has a story. The way the renovation was done is this house’s biggest luxury. For the decoration, I mainly chose Portuguese brands and materials.
What do you enjoy the most when it comes to running B28?
What I enjoy the most is undoubtedly the relationship you create with the guests. You can’t please everyone, but I feel most of them adore staying here. They feel at home. They love to ask about all the details, and they pass on the word to friends and family. Many have come back and stayed in the same apartments. That’s very fulfilling.
You run a small concept store below the apartments. Can you tell us a bit about it?
The idea for the concept store came about as a way to give continuity to the apartments. It’s a polyvalent space where we will occasionally host an art show, a supper club, a pop-up, or even a workshop. The main objective is to promote Portuguese artists and brands, preferably sustainable ones. I need to identify with the projects. It’s interesting to watch the synergies that the concept store brings us.
We sell ceramics, organic artisan liqueurs, handmade lamps made with reused materials, organic infusions, teas, olive oil, clothing, candles, and so on.
What's your favourite object/feature at B28?
Without a doubt, the photographs shot by Luís Ferreira Alves. They are spread around the building and tell a little bit of the story of the renovation process.
They were taken to document the work, but when I started thinking about the decoration, I realised it made full sense to use them in the design of the building’s interior.
Describe your perfect day off in Porto.
The perfect day in Porto is to leave the house unrushed and cycle 500 metres to the riverfront. Then I would keep cycling down the waterfront and go to Serralves to see some art. Finally, I’d have lunch in downtown Porto and finish the day with a drink at Ibar.
What is your favourite hotel in the world?
I don’t know if it’s my favourite hotel in the world, but the first one that came to mind was a palafito when I visited Chile. Patio Palafito inspired me a lot. It was a unique experience to sleep right on the sea, with the constant earthquakes that are so characteristic of that part of the world. It’s fantastic. It’s also a renovation that fully respects its heritage, and even though it’s very simple, it’s so comfortable.
Here's hoping you create new memories here in Portugal. Tag us on Instagram (we would love it if you do!) and let us know how it goes. 🤗
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Joana and Sofia
© Photos by JO&SO and courtesy of B28 Apartments. Portrait photo of Alida Jamal by Mariana Sabido.
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