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10 Beautifully Preserved Historic Hotels in Barcelona

Courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca once said, “In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country in the world.” That statement couldn't be truer in Barcelona: History is everywhere you look in the capital city of Catalonia, from the Romanesque courtyards of the Barri Gòtic and the medieval storefronts of El Born to the exquisitely preserved boutique hideaways and palatial lodgings peppered throughout this Mediterranean metropolis. We've picked ten of Barcelona’s most beautiful historic buildings-turned-hotels, each with a heritage that’s almost as well-heeled as their clientele.

By Kristan Schiller

Courtesy of Mercer Hotel Barcelona
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Mercer Hotel Barcelona

Hidden along an alleyway in the Barri Gòtic, Mercer Hotel Barcelona, designed by architect Rafael Moneo—the only Spanish architect ever to receive the prestigious Pritzker Prize—is housed inside an ancient Roman tower with a preserved wall dating to 1 A.D. Filled with contemporary furnishings and light fixtures reminiscent of Alexander Calder mobiles, the Mercer also has a library tucked behind the original tower walls as well as a chic rooftop pool and bar overlooking the Gothic Cathedral.

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Albert Font
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Primero Primera

In 2011, the Perez family converted their stunning 1955 apartment building on a tree-lined side street in exclusive Tres Torres into a discreetly decorated, midcentury modern retreat called Primero Primera. Its thirty guestrooms are spacious and light-filled with a pared-down aesthetic; there’s even a retro, 1950s-esque, kidney-shaped pool. Be sure to request room 42 for its cavernous, beamed ceilings.

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Courtesy of Hotel Neri/Relais & Châteaux
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Hotel Neri

Swanky Hotel Neri was built in the heart of the old Jewish quarter, inside two historic palaces from the twelfth and eighteenth centuries. The hotel’s Gothic interior contrasts with modern art and massive mirrors that hang on bare brickwork. There’s a restaurant constructed inside the original stone arches of the Old Palace Neri and some suites have views of Plaça Sant Felip Neri. 

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Meritxell Arjalaguer
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Cotton House Hotel

The latest addition to Marriott’s Autograph Collection, newly opened Cotton House Hotel is in a refurbished, nineteenth-century Neoclassical building that once served as a wealthy Catalan family’s private home and later, from the 1950s on, as headquarters of the Cotton Producers Guild. Interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán has painstakingly preserved the fundamental elements of the structure; you’ll find rooms with names like Taffeta and Damask as well as a small room called L’Atelier, a former tailor’s workshop, still filled with bolts of cotton, where guests can have a custom shirt or suit made as in the past.

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Courtesy of The Serras Hotel Barcelona
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The Serras Hotel Barcelona

Located along Passeig de Colom on the site of Pablo Picasso’s first studio (where he painted Ciencia y Caridad in 1897), the Serras holds an important place in art history. During the restoration of the building, archaeologists discovered part of the dock of the city of Barcino dating from the first century A.D., which remains underneath the hotel. Also of historic significance is the restored façade of celebrated nineteenth-century Spanish architect Francesc Daniel Molina.

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Courtesy of Hotel Duquesa de Cardona
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Hotel Duquesa de Cardona

Hotel Duquesa’s sixteenth-century building, restored in 1850, was once home to kings and nobles and much of its original splendor remains intact today. Columns, domed ceilings and art deco windows blend with Philippe Starck–designed chairs to match the building’s royal lineage. Located in front of the port and just a few minutes’ walk from the Gothic Quarter, the rooftop bar and terrace offers panoramic views of the harbor.

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Courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World
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Hotel Casa Fuster

Named after a Mallorcan society gentleman who purchased the building for his wife in the early 1900s, Casa Fuster is remarkable for its curves and white-marble facade. Not far from Sagrada Familia, the building was created during the Modernist movement in 1908 by esteemed Catalan architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner. He also designed Barcelona's  beautiful art nouveau concert hall Palau de la Música Catalana, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World
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El Palace

Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala once lived in the Royal Suite at El Palace Hotel, which was originally built by famed hotel tycoon César Ritz in 1919 and renamed in 2005. Stories about Dalí and the hotel are numerous; the artist once asked for a horse to be brought to his room so he could study the animal for a painting he was creating. The hotel’s palatial lobby has marble colonnades, ornate mouldings, richly upholstered seating and crystal chandeliers. Some guestrooms sport mosaic-covered, Roman-style bathrooms and nineteenth-century marble fireplaces.

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Courtesy of Hotel 1898
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Hotel 1898

Smack in the middle of crowd-filled La Rambla, Hotel 1898 is named for the year that Spain lost the Philippines in the Spanish-American War. Housed in the former headquarters of Philippines Tobacco, the hotel seeks to recapture the affluence of nineteenth-century Spain. Colonial-era ceiling fans and sisal flooring set the stage for this “yacht-club-style” hotel with a rooftop pool and teak loungers.

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Courtesy of El Palauet Living Barcelona
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El Palauet Living Barcelona

Housed in a 1906 art nouveau building with soaring ceilings, stained glass windows, and magnificent frescoes, El Palauet is easily one of the most stylish sleeps in Barcelona. Furniture by Van der Rohe, Starck, Eames and Jacobsen feature prominently against bright white walls. If that’s not enough, each suite is assigned its own personal assistant.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Barcelona Travel Guide