Proudly calling itself ‘The Exotic Hotel’, Hotel Marqí is the latest secluded hideaway in the Portuguese resort of Sintra, created by Danish photographer and former fashion brand owner Mikkel Christensen. Having closed his label, Christensen was considering venturing into the hotel business when he stumbled across the 1980s mansion that was a famous civil architect and weekend party host’s hideaway.
“With its dark, cozy lobby and lush garden, it reminded me of Marmont, and the hills down to the beach also reminded me of California,” Christensen says. “The house had a lot of feel and character.”
Together with architect and artist Mikas Emil, Christensen set about transforming the home into an eight-bedroom boutique hotel that combined the mid-century modern style beloved in his hometown of Copenhagen with the Hollywood aesthetic of the 1970s.
The result is a comfortable yet carefully curated space where simplicity contrasts with playful jolts of color across vintage finds, like the parlor’s emerald-green curved sofa, or the orange tubular dining chairs.
While a few coordinating elements, such as counters made of local marble, tie everything together, thanks to a green bathtub or a red chair, each room has its own personality. Guests can enjoy their own private balcony or terrace, which either overlooks the vintage car collection in the driveway or the sunny garden and bougainvillea-framed pool.
“The more time we spent working on it, the more we understood how important it was to preserve the quirks that gave the house its charm,” Christensen says.
One such feature is the hidden club, Nando’s, named after the original owner of the house and occupying a room he used as a private discotheque. This space is currently being redecorated with boucle chairs and a marble bar, and the secret space is opened up when required.
Here, there is a warmth that makes you feel like a guest in an effortlessly cool home rather than a hotel. This is largely due to the staff who strike the perfect balance between relaxation and alertness – they will leave you sunbathing in peace, but will also ensure an afternoon cocktail. Marqí Sour is not to be missed.
From a seamless playlist of music from his favorite Sofia Coppola and Quentin Tarantino movies, to a merchandise-turned-shop-curated library by some of his friends, Christensen’s personal touches are everywhere. The former designer has even created bespoke Marquee products, including a “Lobby Boy” T-shirt – a nod to one of his favorite directors, Wes Anderson. Not surprisingly, we find out that he lives in an attached bungalow.
“My photography has focused on this kind of dreamy escape,” he says. “Now it is my life, and the lives of others to come and experience for themselves.”