El Palace began life as The Ritz, one of the fabled luxury properties by the original hotel tycoon, César Ritz. It was the finest hotel in Barcelona when it opened in 1919, though was in for some tumultuous times ahead. During the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s it was collectivised, renamed the Hotel Gastronómico N.º1, and also served as an air raid shelter and hospital. By the mid 2000s, the Barcelona landmark was looking tired and closed for two years for a complete renovation priced at more than A$50 million. The property recently underwent another update, including the addition of the Jardin Diana, a rooftop garden home to more than 50 species of plants as well as fountains, a pool and pergolas.
The Junior Suite has elegant fabric-covered walls with velvet patterns, crystal chandeliers and billowing silk curtains, giving it a regal feel befitting its history. The large bathroom is Italian marble and has a separate whirlpool tub, double vanity and rain shower.
El Palace is in one of Barcelona’s most prestigious neighbourhoods, surrounded by luxury boutiques and leafy boulevards. The city’s main strip, La Rambla, the Gothic Quarter and La Sagrada Familia are within walking distance.
Look & feel
The hotel’s historic building is nearly 100 years old and the entry is grand with high ceilings, polished brass banisters, red velvet brocade and plenty of crystal chandeliers. Everywhere you look, rooms are filled with antiques and richly upholstered furniture.
The Winter Garden might just be Barcelona’s prettiest rooftop terrace: an intimate indoor garden under glass with wrought iron furniture and bamboo armchairs. It serves contemporary Mediterranean cuisine à la carte or as a set tasting menu. Located in the heart of the hotel, 19/Nineteen is a typical Parisian brasserie serving casual fare. There are a couple of bars, including Bluesman Cocktail Bar, where you can enjoy a drink while listening to jazz or blues. There’s also the Club De Fumadores, a private smoking club with a cigar cellar and storage lockers for members to keep their own cigars. Breakfast takes place in an enclosed garden similar to a conservatory. Don’t miss the local ham, manchego cheese and a delicious gazpacho.
The spa is inspired by Mayan culture and combines traditional rituals with lush Anne Semonin products. Book a steam in the Temazcal, a purifying sauna using volcanic rocks, inspired by pre-Hispanic indigenous customs. There’s also a lap pool on the roof and a small fitness centre.
El Palace Barcelona is a member of Leading Hotels of the World: lhw.com/hotel/El-Palace-Barcelona-Barcelona-Spain