An impeccable and stylish home away from home
Ever since coming across Soho House in London, it’s been on my bucket list to stay in one of their houses around the world. Is it as amazing and remarkable as I thought it would be? Let’s find out.
Located on the waterfront facing Port Vell marina, Soho House Barcelona occupies a beautiful 19th century building. The restoration of the former apartment complex has delicately restored the original features, such as vaulted ceilings, reclaimed timber and antique Catalan tiles. The House features 57 rooms in various sizes, a Cowshed spa and gym, two pools, terrace, two restaurants and members floor.
First inaugurated in Soho (hence the name) London, Barcelona is one of the latest additions of Soho House’s many club locations around the world. The club is aimed primarily at those in the arts and media, and although Membership is selective, it is not needed for you to enjoy a stay at any of their houses.
I arrive late in the afternoon. Whilst the lobby is small but homely, it also feels like an upscale restaurant or luxurious country retreat. The friendly receptionist informs me that I have a dinner reservation at Cecconi’s at 8:30 pm and an appointment at the spa tomorrow morning. More on that later.
Cristina Rodenas, the Communications Manager for Soho House Barcelona, pops out to greet me, and we agree that a quick tour of the property is the best way to be introduced to the way of living and culture of Soho House. Our first stop is the members gym that occupies most of the first floor. The gym is spacious and takes design inspiration from the 1930s – a theme that is consistent through all of Soho House.
We also tour the members’ club floor, which doubles as a meeting space for mingling with other members, and also boasts a sumptuous bar and intimate restaurant. Cristina informs me that there is also a speakeasy and private cinema in the basement, which screens the latest and greatest from Hollywood, and hosts private parties and events (did I hear anyone say birthday party there next year?).
I’m staying in a medium corner room overlooking the marina and Plaça del Duc de Medinaceli. The sizeable room is home to a super king-size bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, a living area with a dining table and private bar, and en-suite bathroom with separate rainforest shower and roll-top bathtub. If you are in the mood for indulgence, a bartender will come up on your whim and mix any cocktails of your choice while you get dressed for a night on the town. Definitely something I need to add to my wish list for my next home.
The decor and style is tastefully selected from Soho House’s own Soho Home line, mixed with unique, handpicked vintage furniture and accessories, which means that you can also style your own pad like any Soho House – if that tickles your fancy, and why wouldn’t it? The design evokes a feel of British charm, including retro-looking digital radios from Roberts and clocks from Newgate.
Even with the endless flow of traffic and people outside, there is a feel of complete serenity in the room. All you hear is a faint sound of the string quartet streaming out of the radio on the bedside nightstand, And the aroma of rose geranium, linden blossom and frankincense from the diffuser (courtesy of Cowshed) that fills the room.
The en-suite bathroom is spacious and minimalist in design. I love that there is a separate roll-top bathtub and walk-in shower. The shower actually doubles as a steam sauna, which is something I have never seen in any other hotel so far. Here you can find and sample every product in Soho House’s own bath and body line from Cowshed – very impressive. You can also snuggle up in their fluffy house robe (which is highly recommended).
Eating and drinking
I was kindly invited to their in-house Italian restaurant, Cecconi’s. The restaurant is buzzing and electric – you can tell it’s a popular place to see and be seen. Upon seating, I am immediately provided with a small assortment of bread, including focaccia. The a-la carte menu consists of everything between risotto, lobster spaghetti and veal. Deciding on something grilled, I try the chicken paillard with caponata, aged balsamic and roasted potatoes. Very tasty and excellently prepared.
The waiter stops by to tempt me with their special fig and mascarpone dessert with a glass of Italian sweet wine to wash it down. I always feel it’s near impossible to review food in any form, and this is no exception. I can only think of one word to summarise it all. Incredible.
For a more low-key setting, I suggest you try the house kitchen on the members’ floor, which is a bit more intimate and serene. This is also where breakfast is served, offering a selection of made-to-order toasts, breakfast bowls, juices, pancakes and omelettes, to mention a few choices.
The Cowshed Spa is located in the basement and open to the public. I had the pleasure of sampling one of their signature facial treatments for men, using in-house Neville products. Having no idea what to expect, I arrive early to my 10:30 am appointment and hang around the pool while I wait. It is unfortunately not deep enough for a swim and a wee bit too cold for my taste, but the handful of jet stream massage stations strategically placed around it are attractive.
I am greeted by my masseuse who takes me into a treatment room bathed in dim lighting and low key ambient music. The facial treatment is 60 minutes long and includes a neck, shoulder and scalp massage. Although a bit lost at first, I start to feel right at home as I am washed, cleansed, moisturised, massaged, and everything in-between – why haven’t I ever done this before?
Coming out of the treatment an hour later, my skin has never felt so soft. I am recommended products from their shop to compliment my skin type, and, believe me, there is something for everyone. All in all, a very memorable and professional experience. I can see why Cowshed Spa is a very popular place.
I imagine any Soho House around the world is the perfect place to mix business and pleasure. The location of the Barcelona house is perfect: close enough to reach anything within walking distance, but still somewhat inconspicuous and just off the beaten path. If you prefer to stay in, there are in-house daily activities lined up for you to enjoy. The multiple bars, restaurants and pools greatly add to the pleasure of staying at Soho House.
It markets itself as a private club, but, contrary to typical stuffy clubs, the atmosphere at Soho House is very relaxed and friendly. Dressing up is not a requirement – in fact it’s recommended that you keep it casual. And mobile phones may not even be used in common spaces.
If you are a club member, you have access to the bounty of goodies available whenever you wish. But if you are not quite ready to take that step (membership is around 1600 EUR per year), I suggest you plan your next city getaway at a Soho House of choice and experience staying in your future go-to home-away-from-home.
Delights & Plights
- The location is absolute bliss, right next to the marina and within walking distance to the beach, boutique shopping and of course exploring the old Gothic neighbourhood.
- With a spa, gym, cinema, three bars and two restaurants on-site, there's always something going on and a chance to socialise and mingle.
- The tasteful decor and interior evokes a timeless feel that takes design cues from both the 1930s and the latest and greatest technology.
- The bathroom lighting is very cosy but dim. Finding the controls for it was no easy feat and was like going on a treasure hunt.
Date of stay: October, 2017. Disclaimer: Mr Connoisseur was kindly invited by Soho House to experience it for review purposes. All views and opinions expressed in this review are the author's own.