Barcelona really does have it all: it’s packed with history, culture and spectacular architecture. It’s a city known for its wonderful food and drink, and exciting nightlife and, unlike many city breaks, it benefits from a beach. Oh, and did we mention the lovely climate? Barcelona also has got a fantastic range of boutique hotels to pick from – we’ve managed to whittle it down to ten of our favourites.
In the Gothic quarter, Hotel Bagués (*****) is a real jewel of a find – quite literally. Once a jewellery workshop, it still houses the Masriera Jewellery Museum. This heritage is echoed in the decor of the 31 bedrooms too, with gem-like colours, Venetian glass and gold leaf details. Some rooms have views of La Rambla, all benefit from touches such as welcome fruit and water, generous flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. Bathrooms are equally impressive, decorated in dark slate. On the rooftop, you’ll find a plunge pool and steam room, while the bistro and bar offers a creative take on Catalan cuisine.
Also in the Gothic Quarter, just away in a quiet square, and just 18 minutes from the beach, you’ll find Hotel Neri (*****). Its 22 rooms marry the historic architecture of the building – think dark wood doors and beams – with bold, contemporary decor and rich materials. Some rooms have balconies or terraces, all come with comforts such as linen selections, robes and slippers. The bathrooms are finished in quartzite, a stone known for its beneficial health properties, and are stocked with Korres toiletries. Tear yourself away from your room to enjoy time on the rooftop terrace, a drink from the bar in the square, or perhaps to sample a tasting menu at the hotel’s beautiful restaurant.
The Mercer Hotel (*****) enjoys a closeness to the beach and is housed in an even more historic building. In parts dating back to medieval times, it has its own Roman tower, which houses some of the 28 rooms. Original historic features have been given a starring role in architect Rafael Moneo’s modernisation of the building – expect beamed ceilings and exposed brick walls. The bedrooms vary from “superior” level through to a range of suites, all equipped with rainfall showers, mini-bars and Molton Brown toiletries. As well as a pool, there’s a charming, orange tree-filled interior courtyard. With two restaurants to enjoy, a smart cocktail bar, as well as a small library for guests’ use, it adds up to a fantastic base from which to enjoy the city.
Set on a boulevard in the midst of shops and pavement cafés, Murmuri (****) is a 19th-century building that’s been given an elegant contemporary makeover, courtesy of Kelly Hoppen. As you might expect from the interior designer, Murmuri’s decor combines tasteful neutrals with luxurious touches. The 53 rooms and two suites have flat-screen TVs, minibars and iPod docks – some also have private terraces. Guests without won’t miss out on Barcelona’s fine weather, however, as there’s a rooftop solarium with sunbathing chairs. Foodies are also well catered for, with two restaurants to pick from in addition to the snug interior bar. The Petit Comité restaurant serves catalan dishes in a contemporary style, or enjoy drinks and snacks on the terrace at ElPassatge. Just next door you’ll discover Murmuri’s apartments, fitted with their own kitchens and their own private terraces.
It’s easy to spot Ohla Barcelona (*****) on the busy Via Laietana (you’ll also find a sister branch in the Eixample district). It’s housed in a grand, former department store, now decorated with surreal ceramic eyes. Given its location, it’s good to know that all of its large windows are well soundproofed, and the rooms are filled with luxuries including flat-screen TVs iPod docks, a pillow menu and large rain-showers. Especially worthy of note is the Dome suite, locating in the crown of the building – two stunning floors flooded with light and giving breathtaking views across the city. The rooftop swimming pool provides equally delightful views – particularly picturesque thanks to its clear sides. A gym and wellness area with sauna will ease you on your way to full relaxation, while their popular cocktail bar should provide the rest. Make it a stay to remember with a meal in the Michelin-starred restaurant.
The shady rooftop of Villa Emilia (****), with its welcoming sofas and greenery, offers a great place to chill out after a busy day in the city. There are plenty more ways this hotel will charm you – from the weekly barbecue to the free afternoon tea served every day to the piano bar. The soundproofed bedrooms, decorated in a charming mix of modern and antique furnishings, are as equally comforting with Egyptian cotton sheets and high quality mattresses, each room complemented by original artwork.
In the bohemian Raval area of the city, Hotel Casa Camper (****) is brought to you by the people behind the Camper shoes and – as you might expect – is full of quirky touches. There are hammocks in its 30 rooms and suites, bedrooms sometimes with separate sitting rooms across the hallway, and then there’s Tentempié, a snack area where the likes of coffee and soft drinks, sandwiches and salads are available for free 24 hours a day. Not that Casa Camper doesn’t take things seriously, as proved by their Michelin-starred Dos Palillos restaurant, specialising in Asian-influenced tapas. The Dos Billares bar, meanwhile, is a comfortable place to relax and enjoy some jazz and cocktails. Worth noting too, that there’s a 24-hour gym available to deal with any serious overindulgences.
The Primero Primera (****) has been run by the same family since the 1950s – and you can tell by the easy hospitality that pervades the place, from the honesty bar in the lounge to the help-yourself coffee area. Guests have the use of a small gym and the library, laden with magazines and vintage classics. The 30 bedrooms have also clearly been furnished with the needs and comfort of their inhabitants as a priority, from their exquisitely comfortable beds to Gilchrist & Soames toiletries to iPod docking stations and free soft-drink mini-bars.
A stunning combination of the historic and contemporary is on offer at ABaC Barcelona (*****): a 19th-century building enhanced with an imaginative wooden-and-glass extension. The 15 bedrooms, decorated in chic shades of white and accessorised with colourful textiles, epitomise modern luxury, with the likes of hydro-massage baths and rainfall showers, Nespresso coffee machine, iPads and Hermès toiletries. The treats continue outside of the rooms, with the hotel’s 2-Michelin star restaurant. Run by the renowned chef Jordi Cruz, the open kitchen means you can see the magic at work. The cocktail bar and lounge are just as impressive with over 800 choices of wine, to be enjoyed in nooks and crannies of this vast underground space, while the garden and spa offer inviting places to relax – it’s hard to resist the appeal of the submerged hammocks in the thermal pool.
The El Palauet Living Barcelona is housed in a turn of the 20th-century Art Nouveau building. There’s a personal assistant allocated to each of the six suites of the hotel, which each enjoy their own style and architecture, with features such as unique murals or stained glass windows. The smaller details are well catered for too, such as the bottle of Spanish wine and Wallpaper guide to Barcelona supplied in each suite. There are fully-equipped kitchens, should you fancy using them, although your breakfast will be delivered to your room, and there’s a 24-hour room service including Mediterranean and Japanese menus. A trip to the rooftop to enjoy the sauna and massage rooms is recommended, as well as to take in its spectacular views of this wonderful city.
Author: Frances Ambler