Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo opens first hotel in Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portuguese hospitality brand Pestana recently opened their first hotel collaboration.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portuguese hospitality brand Pestana recently opened their first hotel collaboration.  (Reuters/Pestana CR7)

In the heart of downtown Lisbon, Pestana CR7 Lisboa is a brand-new 82-room hotel — the second property to open within the newly launched collaboration between soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Portuguese hospitality brand Pestana.

It was inaugurated on Oct. 2 with a red-carpet soirée; the first hotel, in the Portuguese archipelago Madeira, opened over the summer.

Previously a bank, the historic building was transformed by interior designer Jaime Morais, who swathed almost every inch of the hotel with references to Ronaldo’s illustrious sports legacy. To get a sense of the fantasy, even the staircase is outfitted with sensor-activated surround sound of soccer fans chanting.

Great location

In a bustling destination where it seems like a new hotel opens every week, Pestana CR7 Lisboa targets digitally savvy millennials who love Ronaldo, a national hero whose jersey, not coincidentally, sports the number 7.

The soccer-heavy decor, including in-room area rugs featuring an illustration of one of Ronaldo’s running patterns, is not for everyone, but the property offers amenities (welcome drinks, strong Wi-Fi, an a la carte breakfast menu) not often seen in Portuguese hotels.

What’s working

“Digital comfort” is one of Pestana’s stated priorities. To that end, there is a super-fast internet connection that allows guests to watch Netflix with no interruption. And because Ronaldo is the spokesperson for Meo, a local telecommunications company, everyone gets a password to access its Wi-Fi service in the city wherever it’s available.

While most of the country relies on standard breakfast buffets, Pestana CR7 Lisboa offers a diverse selection at the insistence of general manager Miguel Plantier, who was once an F&B manager at The Standard High Line in New York. Searching for a taste of home? There’s one breakfast dish here that you won’t find anywhere in Portugal: a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.

It’s not perfect

The hotel is dark. Most of the staff will refer to this design decision to use a lot of grays and blacks as masculine. But unless the curtains are wide open, in-room visibility is low.

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