A Conversation with Miguel about Flattered to Be in Porto

LAST UPDATED
May 30, 2022

Miguel Mateus is the co-owner alongside Catarina Silva and Catarina Alves of Flattered to be in Porto, the beautifully designed serviced apartments, situated by the beach in the seaside district of Foz do Douro.

A Conversation with Miguel about Flattered to Be in Porto

“When we opened the windows to the ocean, we knew in that very moment that we had to have it. We had found our place.”
– Miguel Mateus, Co-Owner of Flattered to Be in Porto

We loved our stay at Flattered to be in Porto so much that Jo actually wanted to move in. How did you find this building and what attracted you to the area?

We had been searching for a place in Porto just after the renovation works at our other place in Lisbon had stalled for a few months. We had visited lots of different sites around town, some of which were really nice, but somehow the landlords or the vendors never really bought the idea. Remember this was back in 2011 and it was really hard to sell short rentals as a business idea. 

In the end, it was just a pure stroke of luck when we found the building. We remember clearly that it was a very dedicated and stubborn real estate agent, to whom we are forever thankful, that showed us the place. We fell in love as soon as we walked inside the top floor apartment, and it was when we opened the windows to the ocean, we knew in that very moment that we had to have it. We had found our place.

Flattered to be in Porto living room of the top floor apartment with a sea view.
The top floor apartment at Flattered to be in Porto boasts ocean views.

How long did the renovation process take and what were the biggest challenges?

Actually, our renovation of the interiors only took us a few months. But the whole process until we welcomed our first guests in December 2012 took much longer than we expected because the building was still struggling with licensing issues.

That was definitely our biggest challenge; having everything ready on our side and not being able to open for bureaucratic reasons. But in the end, everything worked out really well.

Each of the apartments is filled with cool furniture, objects and art. Can you tell us more?

Well, it’s a long story, but we can say that most of our furniture was collected from local vintage dealers, some pieces we ended up importing directly ourselves, and other pieces were custom designed by our architect José Carlos Cruz. The lighting is a mix between vintage stuff and new items bought from brands such as Flos, Artemide or Menu just to name a few.

The artworks are actually something that came from an artist in residence event we organised back in 2015 called FlatteredBY. We invited five young Portuguese artists; each of them staying in a different apartment. And then the last period was when we collaborated with the furniture brand De La Espada, throughout 2017, to set up two apartments with their furniture and styling. The truth is we’re always updating little things as we go.

Cool furniture, objects and art at Flattered to be in Porto.
Cool furniture, objects and art.

The three of you are vets and manage a small animal hospital. How did you get into the hospitality industry?

We began by founding a veterinary hospital back in July 2005. At a certain point, we started thinking about changing life.

Another thing that influenced this was that back in 2010-2011, the financial hardships that hit the country and the excruciating media turmoil that preceded the IMF/EU bailout deeply affected the local economy. Our sector was no exception. Fewer animals to attend, pet owners becoming jobless, underpaid or simply emigrating. That’s something we’ll never forget, dozens of our clients taking care of papers to emigrate with their pets. 

At the same time, we began to feel it was increasingly difficult to reconcile the demands of hospital emergencies with our growing families. 

So, we decided it was time to look for a new business. We can actually credit the original idea to my wife and co-founder Catarina S. (note: Flattered has three co-founders, Miguel Mateus, Catarina Silva and Catarina Alves). In 2010 Catarina was at home on maternity leave watching this TV show talking about entrepreneurship, real estate and something very strange for the time. It involved renting houses to tourists for short stays.

My parents had an apartment in Lisbon that they had just vacated and all things somehow came together. At the start, it was hard to convince my parents but they eventually accepted the idea. And that’s how we got started in hospitality.

We were super naive. We thought that we would easily manage to combine our appointments and other clinical duties with managing Flattered. We were so wrong, as it’s such a demanding job. With a lot of trial and testing in between, today our roles are completely separated. Catarina A. is the Clinical Director at the Hospital and Catarina S. is the CEO of both companies, and I’m mostly doing our social media and still pretty much involved in the everyday life of Flattered.

Miguel Mateus, Catarina Silva and Catarina Alves.

With apartments in Porto, Algarve and Tomar, you’ve come a long way since opening your first rental in Lisbon. Any exciting plans in the pipeline that you’d like to share?

In the short term, we’re right in the middle of planning the renovation of two new apartments in Lisbon. We’re discussing the details with our architects and preparing everything for the licensing. The biggest challenges are definitely the amount of bureaucracy involved, plus the amount of capital you need to deploy from day one until you are able to welcome guests. We’re obviously getting better at that, but those are still the biggest challenges.

On another note, more of a long-term thing, we’re considering the idea of creating a Flattered concept in the countryside. A kind of a retreat in a farm setting. We really think this will be our future as a company; bridging the gap between the cities and the countryside around our places. And who knows, maybe adding a few other concepts on the way. We’re never short on ideas!

Flattered to be in Algarve is located in Tavira in Convento das Bernardas.
Flattered to be in Algarve is located in Tavira in Convento das Bernardas.

What's your favourite object at Flattered To Be in Porto and where did you get it?

It’s actually a ceiling lamp, the Knitterling by Ingo Maurer. The way the lampshade in Japanese paper soothes the light and gently spreads it onto the ceiling is so beautiful. It’s kind of poetic. We don’t remember where we bought it. Sorry.

The Knitterling by Ingo Maurer is Miguel's favourite object at Flattered to Be in Porto.
The Knitterling by Ingo Maurer is Miguel's favourite object at Flattered to Be in Porto.
Parque da Cidade was a very welcome addition to Porto in the mid 1990s. Porto City Park is located near the sea, with gorgeous trees and lakes with ducks and swans. There are a couple of restaurants and cafes in the park. It’s a favourite spot among locals.
Parque da Cidade was a very welcome addition to Porto in the mid 1990s. Porto City Park is located near the sea, with gorgeous trees and lakes with ducks and swans. There are a couple of restaurants and cafes in the park. It’s a favourite spot among locals.
"Our perfect day in Porto would definitely involve a picnic with friends at Parque da Cidade. That’s our thing."
– Miguel Mateus, Co-Owner of Flattered to Be in Porto

Describe your perfect day off in Porto.

That would definitely involve a picnic with friends at Parque da Cidade. That’s our thing.

What is your favourite hotel in the world?

We’re actually still looking for our favourite hotel. Whenever we find a place where the human connection is amazing and we feel that the people are really taking good care of us, then what usually happens is that the design or the food somehow does not match. And maybe that’s just the way it should be. Our favourite place to stay in the world should just be something aspirational.

Thank you very much Miguel for the interview.

Thank you too!

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Obrigada,
xx
Joana and Sofia

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