If you’re making a bid for Barcelona in the near future, whether for a weekend of frivolity and frolics, or a longer jaunt punctuated by la Bomba, the Beautiful Game and Battló, then you’re not alone. BCN (brilliant city, no?) is consistently voted as the Brit’s favourite to visit, and it’s easy to see why; a beach, a layout easy to negotiate on foot, great food at reasonable prices, a vibrant party and arts scene, and a fine range of accommodation options, from budget to blow out. If you’re looking for the latter, somewhere right in the mix, with all the highlights in walking distance and a chic, understated, ultra cool edge, then you should look no further than Hotel Bagués.
Barcelona hotels, on the whole, appear to be slaves to compromise. Settle for the most desirable position in the city, at the top of world-famous street Las Ramblas, and sacrifice space and individuality in the process. Position yourself slightly further from where the tourists want to be, and gain a little more elbow room to get luxurious in the process. Hotel Bagués brazenly ignores this apparent concession, offering the best of all worlds, occupying a sweet spot all of its own in the Venn diagram of Barcelona hotel offerings.
Did we mention it was rather good? Yeah, thought so. Because Las Ramblas is where you want to be; a seconds walk from both hip, edgy El Raval on one side of the road, and groovy, fashionable Barrio Gotico on the other. The former plays host to some amazing eating spots – we particularly love Bar Canete and, a little further on, El Xampanyet. Heaven. The Gothic Quarter is Barcelona’s oldest neighbourhood, with a thriving club and bar scene for the night owls among us. Barceloneta, where you’ll find the beach, is only a 20 minute amble south-east, while in the opposite direction, a similar stroll will take you into the heart of Eixample; Gaudi country. Oh, and perhaps the best market in the world, La Boqueria, is less than a minute’s walk from Hotel Bagué’s door. So yeah, the location is pretty damn good.
STYLE & CHARACTER
The building which houses Hotel Bagués is the restored El Regulador Palace, once a jeweller’s workshop and H.Q. But don’t assume that the bling and gaudy dominate the decor here. Instead, dark, soothing tones and clean lines and curves do their best to quiten the hectic hum of the always bustling road outside, offering an intimate retreat. The harnessing of a diverse range of materials to create texture is a theme here; leopard print, cushioned walls and deep, dark wood are all deployed, tastefully, to create nuance and intrigue architecturally.
The stylish welcome from reception staff – drinks on arrival, effortless charm – is hospitality personified. And there’s a complimentary bottle of wine waiting in each and every room. Wonderful.
The 31 well-appointed rooms are compact but perfectly formed, making apt use of the space to feel luxurious and intimate. The fine use of texture and depth in the walls and furnishings bring a sophisticated vibe, with plenty of dark wood panelling of varying grades adding a soothing edge. Shades of cream complement this succinctly, lending a roundness to the interior design. The bed, naturally for a place of this finesse, is pure comfort. Combined with a serene stillness in atmosphere (how they’ve achieved this, with Las Ramblas below the balcony, is some feat), there’s a danger you’ll miss their excellent breakfast due to the deepness of your slumber.
The shower deserves its own paragraph. A first for us; the head seems to encapsulate the entire ceiling of the shower booth, the floor having an infinity like quality usually found in 5* swimming pools. Incredible.
FOOD & DRINK
Hotel Bagués has a terrific terrace restaurant, La Terraza del Bagues, doing very capable Mediterranean fare with a modern bent if the hustle and bustle of the outside world is a little too overwhelming. There are some serious eateries only a short walk away though; so it’d be folly to eat in the hotel restaurant regularly, even if it is rather nice. Come for the view, a nibble and a cocktail, we say, but save room for a later dinner, local style, out there in the mix.
Breakfast is served each day in the lobby, with a self-serve spread of charcuterie and cheese with a la carte options available too. Up top is the hotel’s restaurant, where you can enjoy a simple tapa or full-blown meal; cava, at any time of day, is practically obligatory. The relaxing rooftop also plays host to an outdoor swimming pool, and there’s a fully equipped gym and sauna for when you need to shed the inevitable overindulgence in tortilla Espana.
Perhaps the most interesting ‘extra’ on offer here is the museum, art collection and jewellery store; all a chance to engage with the hotel’s unique heritage. The Masriera jewellery collection (of Modernist pioneer Lluis Masriera) is housed within, displaying some stunning pieces which have also been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. To have the chance to roll out of bed and take these in without even having to step outside is a real privilege.
Class, elegance and sophistication are the watchwords here, phrases which are sometimes hard to utter with conviction above the chaotic throng of Las Ramblas. To be able to step between the two worlds with such ease is to truly experience the best of everything Barcelona has to offer. Bravo!