So you're planning your next summer holiday and decided on Barcelona, Spain. Brilliant. You've chosen well. There's something charming yet vibrant about the Catalan capital; especially during summer with that magical mix of Mediterranean seaside escape, warm Spanish hospitality, and rich cultural heritage. But with hundreds of hotels available, where do you stay?
When scrolling through online portals to find the perfect place to rest our heads, we inevitably employ our checklist of needs and wants: Does it come recommended? Is it chic and stylish? How's the location? Are the rooms spacious with good views? And, increasingly important, am I going to score some sweet shots for Instagram?
Having just returned from a glorious week in Barcelona, and having stayed at the Grand Hotel Central, let me tell you, this place ticks all the right boxes. IS IT REPUTABLE?
First up, the Grand Hotel Central is part of Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) — a portfolio of the world's most luxurious small hotel experiences for the independently minded traveller. Props. In short, SLH has already done the hard yards for you, making sure that only the best boutique hoteliers worth their weight in after-dinner mints (you know, those ones placed on your pillow during turn down service) make the cut. But what does this actually translate into? Unique hotels and personalised quality service. None of that big chain hotel airs and fake smiles; just genuine interest into making your stay memorable.
Case in point: I needed some local advice on which coastal town to visit for my one-day road trip out of Barcelona. One of the gents at reception spent an hour helping me book a car, offered personal suggestions on hidden local beaches, and checked that I returned safely at the end of the day.
IS IT CHIC AND STYLISH?
The Grand Hotel Central was built in 1926 — one of the first structures on Via Laietana — and still retains the stately architecture reminiscent of that time by way of mouldings, grand doors and a tiled spiral stairway. Headed by entrepreneur Pau Guardans, it was recently renovated into a five-star hotel by architect Oriol Tintoré and interior designers Sandra Tarruella and Isabel López; delivering a modern space characterised by elegance and serenity.
Case in point: Guardans is also responsible for other luxury urban hotels including the Hotel Único and The Principal Hotel, both located in Madrid. Having visited both The Principal Madrid, and now, the Grand Hotel Central, he gets my tick of approval.
HOW'S THE LOCATION?
Literally on the border of the Gothic Quarter and the trendy neighbourhood of El Born, the hotel is just a short hop and a skip to all the major attractions. It's so central that many tourists swing by the City Bar (located on the ground floor) for a convenient, not to mention stylish, place to wine and dine in the centre of the city. Forget taking a cab or train around town. When you're this central, you can just walk everywhere.
Let me break it down for you: 147 rooms and suites, all with natural light, all exterior facing, and all decked out in a palette of muted neutrals. Contemporary? For sure, with a slight Japanese flavour (think: open-plan wardrobes with mesh coverings). Spacious? Yup, with seven types of rooms to choose from. Good views? Located between El Born and the Gothic Quarter (that is, the old part of Barcelona) everything outside the windows is Snapchat worthy.
Case in point: I stayed in the Deluxe King City room, and see that view from the desk above? That was literally what I woke up to everyday — Gothic towers next to 1920s architecture.
WILL IT DELIVER ON SWEET INSTAGRAMS?
Have you seen the gobsmackingly #gorg rooftop? Having spent many an afternoon up top, I've heard multiple people literally gasp out loud as they exit the elevator on the 8th floor to be greeted by an infinity pool with panoramic views of Barcelona, and the Mediterranean Sea flickering in the horizon. And it's not just for sun-lovers. Every Wednesday and Friday mornings, there's complimentary yoga sessions for in-house guests; and in the evening, the sun beds are replaced with tables and chairs for dinner service under the stars. Don't want a full feed? No problem, the Skybar offers freshly mixed cocktails for the hip and trendy set. But the best part? The rooftop is restricted to in-house guests during the day; so no randoms popping by to interrupt your tanning sesh or carefully framed Instagram shots.
Case in point: Let my 'grams below do the talking — along with my obnoxious captions: #WishYouWereHere. But c'mon, you've gotta milk it.