Barcelona itself is a tale of two cities. On the one hand it is sleek, modern, louche and bold, on the other it is gothic, authentic, understated and brimming with cultural richness and history. These polar sides of the spectrum can be so easily experienced, whether it is through sipping a sangria at the top of a chrome clad rooftop bar overlooking the Balearic with house music melding nicely with the lap of the sea on the shore front, or through the fun of getting utterly lost in the winding uneven flagstone streets of the gothic quarter with a quick stop off in the Picasso museum en route.
Don’t get me wrong, both have their allure but it’s not necessarily the hardest thing in the world to find glass, chrome and flare cocktails in a city like this – but what it is hard to find is a breathtakingly beautiful combination of style and authenticity. The Cotton House Hotel at 670 Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes achieves this miracle with seemingly nonchalant ease – though make no mistake, this is a miraculous and well considered victory.
The building which now houses The Cotton House Hotel was originally the headquarters of the city’s cotton guild – an affluent and vibrant industry in Spain. The hotel is full of original fixtures and fittings, not to mention mighty impressive antique furnishings. It is located in the up-market end of town where the majority of the high end hotels are all located.
‘Doesn’t its location pose a challenge for the hotel, given that it rubs shoulders with so many competitors’ I hear you cry? No, is the answer – because there’s nowhere like this. The hotel’s effervescent and unique style merges an old school colonial feel with an attention to detail and styling that creates an unforgettable hybrid.
Walk through the double, dark wooden doors adorned with two huge brass ring-knockers and into the reception and find yourself met by welcoming smiles and pristine service. The hotel uniforms are extremely handsome, white cotton dresses with a simple mid-waist leather belt for the female members of staff and sand coloured linen-cotton blend suits with bold peaked lapels for the men. I’m used to hotel uniforms being a bit of an eye-sore, so immediately this is a pleasant surprise.
The immediate impression of the foyer is very textured and extremely impressive – a high arched ceiling, burgundy and black marble flagstones, burnished mirrors reflecting the warm sunshine from outside in against dark tones of stained pine. Another fetching little nod to the building’s own origin follows you around wherever you go, large white vases full of cotton stems adorned with fluffy white buds are strategically placed throughout the hotel.
The bedrooms are fairly compact, they’re perfectly elegant and understated and all of them use the most exquisite snow white bed linen I have ever have the good fortune to fondle whilst sporting a drooling, hypnotic grin. My balcony looked out over the terracotta flecked rooftops of Barcelona with gothic spires and tall aerials jauntily punctuating the skyline. The balcony comes complete with true colonial style double shutters, once an ashy blue colour now charmingly bleached by the Spanish sun.
Two white wicker chairs face each other and quietly whisper many mirthful tales of guests weighed down with contended lethargy who were misfortunate enough to be lulled to sleep in this soporific sun trap only to wake and find themselves somewhat pinker than the were an hour earlier. The bedroom is as white as the linen, and of course adorned with those familiar cotton stems and the bathroom is generously supplied with Ortigia bath and shower products.
A real wealth of beauty for the hotel can be found down in its bar. Work your way through a charming maze of corridors and handsome lounge rooms, including one fully equipped with hundreds of swatches of gorgeous cotton from which guests can choose to have their own bespoke shirt tailored.
Magisterial antique portraits of Spanish royals are strewn across the walls, fresh cut flowers pour from vast glass vases spread across scattered tables, even the flooring is highly textured with a criss-cross pattern of light and dark wooden blocks. The aesthetic is busy but it works in perfect harmony creating an impression which is both extremely grand, but also cosy and comforting.
The bar is the summation of that handsome colonial look, surrounded by wicker and white leather chairs with brass hammered studs. The wood panelled walls emit their own bleary light as it pours through the floor to ceiling windows at the back of the bar which look out over the wooden decked terrace. Peer out across the terrace, which is a remarkable jungle of tropical plants and yet more friendly wicker, to see well dressed guests dotted around, happily slumped in the sun nursing large frosty glasses of white Rioja.
The Cotton House Hotel’s magic doesn’t end here, as you discover if you take one of the discreetly tucked away lifts, engulfed in wooden panelling, up to the top floor. Here awaits the rooftop pool, with emerald blue water swirling against the tiny sky blue lacquered mosaic tiles beneath. The view out towards the Sagrada Familia is stunning, and there is even a mini-roof terrace bar to ensure that you don’t have to enjoy it empty handed. Large pale pine sun loungers run along the edge of the pool, complete with cushioned cotton canvas covers and the bar area of the rooftop is covered in plants with leaves pouring over the back wall of the bar injecting a pleasant organic feeling to this charming little retreat.
The Cotton House Hotel stands proudly at the top of the pyramid of spectacularly high achievement for its style, attention to detail and its exemplary service. It attains that chic but old fashioned aesthetic with extraordinary ease and proves to be a welcome and soulful respite from the frantic, million-mile-a-minute city outside where armies of excitable tourists descend upon every Gaudi relic in sight.
There is something really magical about this remarkable and characterful hotel as you’re always aware of its cotton guild origins which keeps it perfectly grounded and humble whilst simultaneously providing an unmistakably five star offering.
The Cotton House Hotel
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 670, 08010 Barcelona, Spain