I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend at the boutique Grand Hotel Central situated in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The Grand has pulled off the rare feat of blending in completely with the city, making a stay in the hotel a perfectly subtle complement to one of the most exciting cities in the world.
The hotel is constructed in the shell of an old industrial building from the 1920s, the remains of which lend the Grand a classic charm, though the hotel is in all other ways the epitome of contemporary luxury. It literally feeds off the energy of the city, retaining much of it's power from a spread of roof-top. Speaking of the roof, if you're bored of Google Earth you'll find a refreshing perspective on the urban design of Barcelona while looking out over the city from the crisp waters of the rooftop infinity pool. This view is perhaps one of the city's best-kept secrets.
The Grand's location couldn't be more perfect; as soon as you leave the iron gates of the citrus sandalwood-smelling haven, cross the street into an arterial alleyway beside the Cathedral and be pulled with the flow of people through Catalunian candle shops, Gypsy comic book vendors and prime Barcelonian graffiti until you're ejected into the middle of Las Ramblas with your head spinning. (There is also a Metro stop just outside the door for an alternate but just as thrilling experience en route to attractions.)
In the Spanish tradition, the rooms are well-equipped for afternoon siesta with blackout-shades and soundproof windows that put you to sleep even if you aren't accustomed to a mid-day nap. And when you wake up the hotel's eatery, "Actual", created by Michelin award-winning chef Ramon Freixa is the perfect place for a post-siesta snack. I should add that my adventures were punctuated by twenty-minute rests in the hotel's modest but thorough lobby library of Catalunian art and design which made me even more reluctant to leave this perfect and simple urban retreat.
Grand Hotel Central
30 Via Laietana
08003 Barcelona, Spain map
tel. +34 93 295 79 00