Right in the heart of Barcelona’s upmarket Gràcia quarter is El Palauet Living, a fascinating fusion of art deco and contemporary design. This listed Catalan Modernista building dating from 1906 contains six five-star suites and tops it all off with a rooftop spa and garden.
Stunning is a much overused word, but at El Palauet it is justified, from the beautifully carved dark wood entrance hall to the suites and rooftop garden. With a Finnish sauna, jacuzzi, massage rooms and chill-out lounge where lush planting provides shade, you won’t know whether to stay on the roof and drink in the stunning city skyline or head down into your suite to enjoy the designer furnishings and décor. And now that Norwegian (www.norwegian.com) is resuming flights from Edinburgh on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 29 March, it’s time to boost that flagging vitamin D.
Each suite has acres of space to relax in and there’s a kitchen in which to whip up meals from the treats garnered in neighbourhood foodie haunts.
And if you’re given to whims, they will be attended to any time of the day or night with El Palauet happy to arrange for someone to prepare breakfast in your suite, organise reservations, dry cleaning, massages, hairdressing and make up services, a personal shopper, personal trainer, babysitting and so on.
Budget or boutique
Boutique, but the word doesn’t do it justice. If you’re into Catalan modernism and contemporary design you’ll love El Palauet. White leather chair (Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona design, of course) Achille Castiglioni Arco lamp, pristine white sheets, fluffy towels, and the latest technology at the touch of button… it’s that kind of place.
With a cream and white colour scheme from furnishings to décor – glass, marble, chrome – our suite, Mezzanine Tibidabo, was a haven of light and calm in the centre of a busy city. Vast, at 150 square metres, and having two bedrooms with their own en-suites, living room, dining room and kitchen, it could accommodate four people easily.
One of the bedrooms also has a terrace on which to sit and enjoy breakfast coffee or a drink, and when your neighbour is a convent, you won’t be troubled by any noise.
Period Modernista features include ornate mouldings on the high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows and railings and a semicircular stained glass window in the living space with views of Tibidabo mountain.
A home automation system controls the lights, sound and vision and my obliging teenager was happy to take charge of that, though I retained control of my entertaining Japanese toilet with its multitude of settings.
Osme toiletries, fluffy bathrobes and slippers plus a standalone bath and shower made it very difficult to get my teenager out of her own private en-suite.
Wining and dining
There’s a well appointed kitchen full of top of the range shiny appliances with everything you need to create a meal: oven, fridge, wine cooler, kettle, Nespresso machine and microwave. But when hunger struck we headed out into the city, with everything from bargain priced tapas to fine dining available in the surrounding Gràcia district.
Worth getting out of bed for
The whole of Barcelona awaits. If shopping’s your thing start with the designer shops on your doorstep in Passeig de Gràcia. We loved window shopping at Stella McCartney, Valentino and Prada, then shopping shopping in Mango and Zara and souvenir shopping in Las Ramblas.
Gaudi buildings abound – La Pedrera is just across the road. Hop on hop off tour buses stop outside every 15 minutes. We managed to visit Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Camp Nou, the gothic quarter and, best of all for my teenager, the beach.
A welcoming bottle of red wine was much appreciated. Also, small, well-behaved dogs, of which there are many to be seen on parade in Barcelona, are welcome to stay too.
For history, comfort and contemporary cool all rolled into one you can’t beat the vision that is El Palauet.
El Palauet Living Barcelona, Mezzanine Tibidabo suite, currently €499 per night, El Palauet Living Barcelona, Passeig de Gràcia 113 08008 Barcelona (+34 93 218 00 50, www.elpalauet.com/en)
Norwegian flies to Barcelona on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Edinburgh from 29 March, one way from £39.90. See website for latest prices (www.norwegian.com)