This five-star hotel opened in the Catalan capital in 2005. It’s part of Unico Hotels, a group of three Spanish properties owned by entrepreneur Pau Guardans that also includes the Hotel Unico and the Principal in Madrid. It is part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which has seven member properties in the city. As a member of Design Hotels, it is also eligible for points earning with Starwood Preferred Guest.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The eight-floor property was built in 1926 – part family home, part offices, it was inspired by the Chicago architecture of the time. Pulling up outside, we were greeted by a smart doorman who took our bags and showed us into the tranquil, dimly lit lobby, which is high ceilinged, classy and minimalist in style.
Immediately to the left is the Library, with a big communal table with plug sockets for working, and to the right is the cool-looking City bar and restaurant. Further ahead are the reception desks, which face the original staircase and lift, and beyond that, the space splits into a T shape, with stylish, comfy seating on either side with glowing lamps and candles, jazzy music and contemporary art, plus a station with complimentary water, apples and marshmallows. It’s a restful area that feels at a remove from the busy street outside.
Tucked away on the left-hand side is a business corner with two iMacs and a printer. Throughout the hotel, the staff were lovely and eager to help.
WHERE IS IT?
As the name suggests, the hotel is in an excellent central location on Via Laietana, close to the cathedral. It straddles the Gothic Quarter and the trendy Born district and is about a 15-minute walk from Port Vell.
The 147 rooms and suites start from 20 sqm and are split into the following categories – Standard, Executive, Superior, Deluxe King City, and Junior, Master and Grand suites. I liked the interiors a lot – well designed, with everything where you’d need it to be, they manage to be both minimalist and warm, with clean lines and rich wooden flooring.
Included as standard are free wifi (with a router provided for you to take advantage of this outside the hotel), minibars, safes, robes and slippers, tea and coffee facilities (Nespresso machines in Executive rooms upwards), Loewe flatscreen TVs with UK channels, media hubs with EU plug sockets, daily turndown service with complimentary bottled water, and easily adjusted air conditioning.
My Deluxe King City on the fifth floor was a spacious (30 sqm) corner room with several windows overlooking the Gothic Quarter and a side street. (Higher categories face the front of the property while lower ones face the back.) With both electric blackout blinds between the double windowpanes, and roll-down semi-opaque ones, the room can feel very different by day and night depending on how much light you want to let in. (Some lower category rooms are darker.)
The wardrobe area had full-length hanging space and room for two carry-on cases. A wall-to-wall desk provided plenty of space for working. The bed was firm and comfortable and, while some noise was audible from outside, I slept well. My only quibble would be that the wooden bedside table on my side was very small, with almost the whole surface taken up by the lamp, so I kept knocking my glasses on the floor.
The bathrooms are newly refurbished in a sleek charcoal-tiled design. Mine was separated from the bedroom by a sliding opaque door (some are more open-plan with the sink located outside in the dressing area) and had a rainshower over the tub (some have walk-in showers only). Gilchrist and Soames toiletries are provided.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
City bar and restaurant – “part bistro, part gastropub” – serves Mediterranean cuisine and good cocktails. Breakfast is served in an extension to the restaurant on the lower ground floor (the Gallery) and comprises an excellent continental spread with eggs cooked to order. It’s automatically included in the rate for rooms above Executive category.
On the rooftop, by the pool, is the Skybar, which offers cocktails and light meals – in winter the bar service hours are 1.30pm-9pm; in summer it’s 9am-1am.
Most of the public spaces can be hired for private events, including the City bar and restaurant, the pool area and the Library. There are also rooms for formal meetings.
One of the hotel’s standout features can be found at the top of the property – a good-sized heated infinity rooftop pool with great views across the rooftops of the Born district towards landmarks such as Jean Nouvel’s Torre Agbar and the Hotel Arts. Even in late November it was still mild enough for me to take a refreshing morning swim. This must be a fantastic place in summer to lounge on one of the sunbeds and enjoy the bar service.
The hotel has a wellness suite for spa treatments, plus a thermal suite, comprising a hammam and sauna, which costs €70 to hire for 45 minutes (it’s free for suite guests). There’s also a gym with Technogym equipment, including a kinesis machine.
Inside the door are a couple of electric bikes available for hire (from €16 for two hours); guests can also avail of the hotel’s private car (€120 for eight hours).
The Barcelona Punto city guide app, which has been co-developed by Guardans, offers tips and reviews in English or Spanish for iPhone or Android devices (guiaspunto.com).
A most enjoyable hotel in a great central location. Well designed and equipped, with comfortable rooms, welcoming staff and a fantastic rooftop pool.
Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in January started from €210 for a Standard room.