Branding a Bar in Lisbon

PensaoAmorYou’re gonna love this!

(WARNING: Some content may be offensive)

You’ve heard the Murray Head lyrics “One night in Bangkok is like a year in any other place.” Well my first night in Lisbon was a little like one of those kinds of nights.

After settling into my lovely suite in the IKEA-modern student dorms in the city, we were treated to a lovely lunch by the Remote Year (RY) team. Then given the name of a place that we were all to meet at 8pm, but RY no staff would attend.

Being keen to explore the city and completely thrown off my time zone, I jumped at the opportunity to play. Our group split up into several Uber cars. Some bravely walked the wickedly steep streets of Lisbon to find this jewel in the city. I was ready to join the walking crowd but later was happy that I got a ride.

We found ourselves at the Pensåo Amor. Loose translation – Guesthouse of Love, in the former red light district, Cais do Sodré. The bar, which was once a brothel, has kept its old world charm – bordello chic. It’s a late night favourite of an eclectic mix of artists, beatniks and remotes.

As you walk the streets of Lisbon or any city for that matter, you’ll see hundreds of bars and restaurants. But what sets a drinking establishment apart is its brand experience. The Pensåo Amor could have been ripped apart long ago, raped of its history and refinished in some fancy modern lounge style. But it would not have the character or the draw that it has today.

If it wasn’t for the shabby, worn Victoria tea room style furniture, the burlesque stage with café tables for the patrons, the fur-lined pole-dancing room, the erotica bookstore and novelty shop or the suggestive hand-painted wall murals this would be a bar like any other bar. But rather than toss out its history in favour of some cold contemporary décor, the Pensåo Amor is a full frontal brand experience – uncensored and unapologetically proud to be one of the best bars in Lisbon.

I’ll drink to that! Let me know in the comment section below if you’ve ever been to Pensao Amor or if there is another bar brand that stands out in your mind.