From the chaos of the Gran Via into an oasis of calm; stepping into the Cotton House Hotel, you'll find a hidden gem tucked away in Barcelona’s city centre. A listed 19th century landmark designed by Catalan architect Elies Rogent, this grand Neoclassical mansion used to be the headquarters of the Fundación Textil Algodonera, Barcelona’s Cotton Textile Foundation.
Award-winning designer Lazaro Rosa-Violan stayed true to the building’s origins when he took on its reinvention, preserving the original ceiling frescoes, wood panelling and floor tiles. He then used his creative license, lavishing the space with contemporary lighting and artworks. It is through layering his own vision upon the building’s history that he’s created an environment in which antiquity and modernity blend, with stunning results.
The hotel also commemorates Barcelona’s cultural legacy by its inclusion of a charming Atelier, and lofty library where you can peruse fabric and books, lit by sunbeams seeping through the floor-to-ceiling windows. To get to the serene rooftop terrace, you need to climb the most artful flight of steps you’ll ever conquer: the six-storey spiral staircase is a structural marvel, suspended in the air, supported only by a robust steel cable. At the top, you can swim and sunbathe all day long, and come evening, watch the sun set behind the prominent Sagrada Familia, drink in hand. Step inside and you’ll find a treatment room where you can indulge in blissful cotton-based facials and massages.
It’s inside the 83 bedrooms that the cotton element really comes into its own. Firstly, they’re each named after different types, from ‘Panama’ to ‘Taffeta’. Our restful Egyptian bedroom’s king-size bed was the pinnacle of luxury, made up of high-thread cotton sheets, a snug duvet and luxuriously soft pillows. To the bed’s side, a delicate cotton flower hung out of a vase, and on the table, the hotel’s bespoke cotton-plant spray. Skip turning on the television and turn your attention to the catalogue on the desk, filled with cotton samples. An artisanal tailor service courtesy of Santa Eulalia is just a phone call away, to craft you a suit or a collection of made to measure, hand-stitched shirts.
Bathrooms come complete with Italian Ortigia products, while in most rooms, you can open the blue colonial shutters and recline on a cosy wicker chair on the small balcony. If you’re looking for even more private space, check into the Vichy Suite, which boasts a 25m2 terrace, complete with an exterior shower, while the Damask and Ottoman suites are home to beautifully restored murals.
It is to this hotel’s credit that you are so wrapped in comfort, you might be tempted not to venture out onto the streets of Barcelona at all. But if you do, you’re perfectly placed in the Gran Via and steps from Las Ramblas, only a few minutes’ walk from exclusive shopping street Passeig de Gràcia, filled with designer boutiques. Residing in the architecturally rich Eixample district means that you’re just as close to the iconic buildings of Casa Batlló and Casa Milà and of course, the Sagrada Familia. Fancy something more adventurous? The hotel is happy to organise helicopter tours or boat charters.
Brogues meet flip-flops on the terrace of Cotton House’s restaurant, Batuar, as business lunchers and holiday brunchers dine side by side in rattan chairs. It’s a beautifully calm jungle-like space, shaded by palm trees and encouraging total relaxation. The beau monde apartments that border it make you feel as though you’ve settled into the centre of high society.
Offering modern Catalan cuisine, Batuar tempted us with an array of delicious delights from the Spanish brunch menu, washed down with cava. We later guiltily returned to the same restaurant for dinner, sampling the suckling pig with lobster rice, and sharpening our evening with Old Fashioneds – Cotton House style with a hint of Amaretto di Saronno. The cosmopolitan cocktail bar allows you to lounge into the night, indulging in the sweet temptation of their vast menu. Just be sure you don’t lie in too long the next morning, as breakfast shouldn't be missed.
In a nut shell
For a mixture of Belle Epoque grandeur and irreverent features, Cotton House is the perfect destination for interior design aficionados, as well as those looking for an elegant hideaway in the centre of thriving Barcelona.
Rooms cost from £170 a night.
Words by Gemma Brandler