Tastefully designed luxury with a personal touch
Almanac Hotel in Barcelona has been on my radar ever since I heard about its planned opening. My endless staring at concept renders – wondering how it will look like when completed has finally been cured. Come with me as I guide you through a stay at Barcelona’s newest luxury tastemaker in hospitality.
Almanac is located at the crossroads of the historic Passeig de Gràcia and the grand Gran Via boulevard in the center of Barcelona. As with most architecture in the center of city, preservation is key and there are strict design codes that need to be met.
The two corner buildings that houses Almanac Hotel used to contain apartments and offices. One of the biggest challenges when de-constructing the old buildings were how to integrate them seamlessly into one. The result, I must say is quite flawless.
The Hotel has 61 rooms and 30 suites, which are all richly appointed with modern amenities to create a residential feeling of discreet refinement. The lavish interior design was spearheaded by Jaime Beriestain who coincidentally has his design studio, restaurant and concept store just a few blocks up from the Hotel.
I arrive late afternoon by taxi and upon entering Almanac I am greeted by the front desk staff who proceeds to take my reservation details. The lobby is grand, but retains a cosy feeling and is surrounded by large, panoramic, floor to ceiling windows.
Ana Clavera Bultó who is the director of events and PR comes down to greet me, which is always a appreciated gesture and helps create a personal experience. I am reminded with the notion that design, architecture and personalisation are key elements of Almanac.
I am escorted to the elevator and taken up to my room by a member of staff. I am staying in a Gran Via room, which mean that my room is facing directly out to grand boulevard outside. Some of these rooms also include a ‘Juliet’ or walk-out balcony. Make sure you ask for one of these if you want to people watch.
Upon entering the room, the lights automatically dim up and the window curtains slowly slide open. This neat automation feature immediately makes you feel welcome – and if nothing else also introduces you to the room technology. Here everything is just a keypress away – from the room temperature to different lighting environments depending on your mood.
The king size bed is ample and super comfy. On the opposite wall there is a quite large flatscreen tv that is surrounded by a selection of art and decor details. So if you are not in the mood for binge watching, you have a small curated, art gallery at your disposal to enjoy instead.
Every room comes a smartphone that doubles up as a room controller, Hotel explorer, Barcelona city guide as well as a phone. You are allowed to take this with you as you explore Barcelona and if you at any point get lost or need a recommendation, the Hotel staff is standing by night and day to help you out. The phone also comes with free international calls, something that is a first in any Hotel I have experienced lately.
The ensuite bathroom has big sliding doors which ensue privacy if you should want it. The bathroom walls are covered with discreet white marble and gold decor accompanied by wood details. The shower is big and could easily fit a small crowd under its rainforest style shower head.
The toilet is separated from the bathroom – and believe it or not also lights up (I kid you not). There is a built in bidet feature which is controlled from a remote control and give you a plethora of choices. This is definitely the most high tech toilet I have seen outside of Japan.
Eating and drinking
Breakfast is included in the price of the room, something that is more and more rare these days. As I am feeling a bit under the weather, I decide to try out the room service. With the press of a button on the phone I am ordering up a small bounty of treats, including home made cereal, croissants, cafe latte and freshly pressed orange juice.
Everything was most pleasing and I would have loved to get the recipe for that breakfast cereal, it was something out of this world.
Free coffee and tea is also included in every room, as well as a selection of mini bar drinks, from water to soft drinks and locally produced beer. Definitely a nice touch and much appreciated.
The Hotel also boast their own gastronomic restaurant named Línia which offers an all-day dining and sharing menu where locals and traveler’s lives intersect from morning to night.
Among many of your options you will find fresh seafood from Llançà, rice and meat grilled over firewood, cheeses and artisan breads. If you fancy a drink (a glass of Cava is served as a free welcome drink to all guests of the Hotel), the skilled barmen of Línia serves up a select cocktail menu along with a choice of regional wines and sherry in a relaxed atmosphere.
So about that glass of Cava. You can have it in the bar – but I opted for having mine up on the Hotel terrace and watch the sun set behind Tibidabo mountain instead.
The terrace of Almanac is big and able to house around one hundred guests. It consists of two levels which are split up into smaller, intimate areas where you can enjoy the company of friends and family with a cocktail or two. There is also a small pool where you can cool down on those hot Mediterranean summer days.
With the sun reflecting in my sunglasses as it slowly sets – and with a glass of locally produced Cava in my hand I am reminded that it probably doesn’t get any better than this.
I am after all, in a prime location in Barcelona, surrounded by high street shopping, upscale restaurants, bars and modernist architecture. But I see no reason to leave Almanac, I have everything I need right here. If I could ask for one thing, it would be to keep the sun lingering for just a little while longer.
Almanac Barcelona is part of a group of upscale, boutique Hotels with sister properties opening in Vienna, Prague and Budapest in 2019. I suggest you keep an eye open.
Delights & Plights
- Everything in can be controlled using the included in-room smartphone. On a whim you can set the temperature, close the curtains and order room service with the press of a button.
- Thick double (perhaps even tripple) glassed windows ensue you have a good night's sleep even with the buzzing flow of traffic on Gran Via outside.
- The tasteful and discreet design of Jaime Beriestain sets the perfect tone from the first impression in the lobby to the design details of the rooms.
- A complimentary minibar, along with free coffee and tea is lovely to have access to when you don't feel like going out.
- Free, fast wifi is great. However, when it doesn't require a personal sign-on, nor uses any form of encryption, it's less great. I recommend using a VPN if you connect to it.
Date of stay: April, 2017. Disclaimer: Mr Connoisseur was kindly invited by Almanac to experience it for review purposes. All views and opinions expressed in this review are the author's own.