clé travels: Christian Louboutin’s tile tour de force (and magical hotel)

by clé tile | published: Apr 21, 2023

images courtesy of vermelho hotel

adesigner beloved for his flair, style, and glamour. an idyllic off-the-radar village in Portugal. and lots and lots of hand-painted, handcrafted tile (7000 pieces to be exact). how could we not fall in love? French shoe designer Christian Louboutin (he of the iconic red soled stilettos) recently opened his first boutique hotel — Vermelho (red, in Portuguese) — in the village of Melides and you can count us among the smitten.

taking a cue from Portugal’s eclectic heritage — and from his own roots (French/Egyptian) — Louboutin has created an intimate bolthole that fuses aesthetic and cultural influences ranging from Moorish design (those tiles, the indoor-outdoor spaces) to Italian sophistication and Spanish verve. and it’s all leavened by the classic Louboutin sensibilities: glamour, sensuality, and wit.

all about the tile

but let’s talk tile. many of those 7000 pieces were crafted by artisans from Azulejos de Azeitão near nearby Setúbal. from simple geometric shapes and checkerboards to more modernist marble mosaics to decorative and maximalist classic azulejos (tin-glazed ceramic cousins to Italian maiolica) the hotel is an homage to our favorite material and the way it can bring together cultures, design and architectural styles, and moods.

and at Vermelho, the tile is used everywhere: as headboards, in bathrooms (where it clads not just the floors and walls but the baths themselves), stair risers, furniture, as dados, the odd alcove, and of course outdoors. the tile motif is carried into stenciling and murals on walls and even ceilings.

pairings with panache

what really got our hearts beating faster was the way in which tile was paired: richly detailed inlaid floors paired with colorful hand-painted patterned tile for a maximalist effect; several different types of patterned tile coming together in a just-right mix; ornate marble murals and mosaics paired with checkerboard motifs; exuberantly veined marbles with classic azulejos. every space is a celebration of lavish, bold, masterful style — and tile is at the center of it all.

in fact, tile is so much the soul of Vermelho that classic tile motifs are an integral part of the hotel’s branding. it’s an homage to the grand European tile traditions, used with boldness, flair, and wit.

go for the sun, the food, the vibe. stay for the masterclass in the art of tile.

for a touch of that Vermelho sensibility and to keep exploring a classic tile tradition…

Keep exploring the hotel below: