Opened 25 years ago by the King and Queen of Spain for the 1992 Olympics, the Rey Juan Carlos became a Fairmont hotel in 2014. Some €37 million has been spent on renovating all rooms and public areas, with completion set for September.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Located in the 25,000 sqm 19th-century Torre Melina gardens, the hotel won the National Prize for Architecture in 1993 and has continued to impress with its striking design since. It’s set around a huge central atrium, with the 15 floors on either side accessed via twin glass lifts and then balconies (there are three more lifts behind these). A new hexagonal fountain sits in the lobby, surrounded by tiles featuring a Gaudi motif.
The revamp has been led by Terry McGillicuddy of Richmond International. He has cleverly designed the central space so that a series of arches creates almost ceilings to the seating area, stopping you from feeling as if there is a big void above. Different types of seats and tables also break up the space. It’s a superb success.
Check-in was not perfect. I handed over my cabin bag and was given a ticket. The receptionist took the ticket and said he would ensure the bag was delivered to the room. An hour later and after a couple of phone calls, I went down to get it. It was found in the luggage store and I took it back to my room. No apology was forthcoming, and the concierge seemed to think they’d done me the favour by locating a bag without a ticket. The receptionist looked embarrassed, but didn’t apologise either.
WHERE IS IT?
On Avinguda Diagonal, a well-known, very long road. The hotel is next to Zona Universitaria metro station on line 3 and with a direct connection on line 9 to the airport, which is otherwise a 15-minute drive away.
The property has 432 rooms and suites, all offering impressive views of the surrounding suburbs. After the mezzanine floor, where the meeting rooms are, the floors rise from one to 15, omitting floor 13. Each room has been refurbished and has free wifi and a Nespresso machine. Entry-level Fairmont rooms (floors three to eight) are 30 sqm but seem larger thanks to the new furnishings. The marble bathrooms have a separate shower and tub, and the bed is very comfortable. Deluxe rooms are the same size but also have a sofa. Junior suites (40 sqm) are in a corner location on all floors. Junior Executive suites and Fairmont Executive rooms are on the 12th floor and have access to the Executive lounge (shut at the time of my stay as the refurbishment is being completed over the summer). Executive suites are 60 sqm.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The lobby bar and restaurant, B24, is in the atrium and has lots of lights shaped like long raindrops, which change intensity depending on the time of day. It serves Spanish dishes, as well as wine and cocktails. The Terrace offers al fresco food, and there is also a pool bar.
Many of the 24 meeting rooms overlook the gardens. As well as featuring a pool, terrace and lake, the gardens are home to three event spaces – the Salon Azul, Jardin and Piscina. There is also access to the neighbouring Palau de Congressos de Catalunya, which hosts 2,000 people.
In addition to the outdoor pool, there is the 5,400 sqm Royal Club Fitness and Spa (which itself has indoor and outdoor pools).
This is a stunning hotel and a really impressive renovation. The location is excellent since you can get into the centre of Barcelona easily (traffic permitting) and yet enjoy its expansive gardens and great views from the upper floors.
Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in June started from €229 for a Classic room.
Avinguda Diagonal 661-671; tel + 34 933 644 040; fairmont.com/Barcelona