Business Traveller has the lowdown on the new W Barcelona, and takes a sneak preview of the forthcoming Mandarin Oriental, Novotel and El Palace properties in the Catalan capital.
Starwood’s latest hotel under its W brand opened on October 1, and there is no doubt the property is set to become an icon for the city. Located on the seafront in the city’s Barceloneta district, The W Barcelona is housed within a 26-storey glistening curved tower that resembles a huge sail pointing out towards the ocean. Guests enter through a cube-shaped atrium attached to the main building, where upon eyes are taken upwards through the glass roof to a view of the skyscraper soaring upwards, and left past the lobby lounge area to a picture postcard view of the sea. All 473 rooms have sea views with large sofas by the windows, as well as Philips mood lighting systems, island beds, iPod docking stations and Bliss Spa amenities.
The hotel was designed by Barcelona-born architect Ricardo Bofil (also responsible for the new Terminal 1 at Barcelona airport), and the overall feel of the ground floor public areas is one of an underwater world, with cushions designed to look like coral, and jellyfish-shaped tables. There are two terraces overlooking the beach, and a 26th-floor Eclipse Bar with panoramic views of the coastline, as well as a Bliss Spa and a signature restaurant by Carlos Abellan (formerly of El Bulli).
Novotel Barcelona City Centre
Due to open in early November, this is the first Novotel property in Barcelona’s city centre, joining three others located in the suburbs. Situated on Avenida Diagonal in the shadows of Agbar Tower (Barcelona’s equivalent of The Gherkin), the hotel is within walking distance of Glories Metro station on Line 1, four stops from Plaza Catalunya (and the top of La Rambla). There is also a direct link to the city’s popular Port Olympic district via tram line 4.
The four-star hotel features 264 rooms (half with combined shower and bath, half with shower only) including 22 junior suites with sea views. The public areas follow an Elements theme, with the restaurant representing fire, the bar depicting images of water, the meeting rooms representing earth, and the top floor open-air terrace unsuprisingly representing air. From here there are some of the best views of any hotel in the city, with the Sagrada Familia, Montjuic Castle and of course Agbar Tower all visible. The terrace level also features an outdoor pool, fitness centre and turkish sauna.
Mandarin Oriental Barcelona
With an enviable city-centre location on Barcelona’s Passeig de Gracia, Mandarin Oriental’s first property in southern Europe is just a stone’s throw from the Gaudi-designed Casa Batllo. Originally a branch of Banco Hispano Americano, the hotel is due to open at the end of November and will feature 98 rooms and suites, a 9th floor terrace with an infinity edge “dipping pool”, a 1,000sqm spa with indoor pool, Moments restaurant headed up by Michelin-star chef Carme Ruscalleda, and Banker’s Bar, complete with 17 original safety boxes, the keys to which will be given to selected guests.
The facade of the mid 20th-century building includes three central arcades with works by Catalan sculptor Frederic Mares, which will contrast with the modernist “catwalk” entrance to the hotel (see picture). The hotel will be flanked by two high-end shops, including the Italian men’s fashion brand Brioni. Some guestrooms will have balconies overlooking Passeig de Gracia, with others looking into the hotel’s internal Mimosa terrace area, and the whole of the 8th floor will be taken up by the 253sqm penthouse.
Hotel El Palace Barcelona
Built in 1919 and formerly The Ritz Barcelona, the Hotel Palace Barcelona closed for a €20 million refurbishment in December 2007, and will see a soft re-opening later this month. Initially only three floors of rooms will be available, along with selected public areas, with the rest of the hotel due to be unveiled in January 2010.
Part of the Husa Hotels group and a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, the 125-room El Palace is located on Gran Via, close to Passeig de Gracia, and features a neo-classical facade and grand public areas. The refurbishment includes a new room design, the redecoration of public areas and lounges, and “the realignment and optimization of the architectural infrastructure”.
Pullman Barcelona Skipper
Formerly the Hotel AB Skipper, this property was taken over by Accor this summer under its business-oriented Pullman brand. The hotel is located in the city’s Port Olympic district, next to Hotel Arts (a Ritz-Carlton property) and overlooking the marina and Frank Gehry’s iconic Fish sculpture.
As the original hotel was only opened in 2006 it’s been more of a rebranding exercise than a refurbishment, but rooms still feel modern, with a dark red and grey decor, a leather chair and coffee table, flatscreen TV, DVD player and free wifi internet access. Most rooms also have balconies, with many having views towards the marina. There are two outdoor swimming pools, one on the ground floor terrace area, and another on the rooftop along with a spa bath.