Barcelona’s Hippest Hotel

New innovations create a trendy space

By: Maryann Hammers

Hotel Casanova
A backlit, lime-green bar is the centerpiece
of Hotel Casanova’s lobby and lounge.
Striking decor, GPS devices on loan, Mexican-Spanish fusion cuisine, an indoor-outdoor spa and a bright-green bar are among the innovations at the creative Hotel Casanova.

The newly redesigned Hotel Casanova, part of the Spanish Rafael group, aims to make a name for itself as Barcelona’s hippest hotel. In everything from cuisine to decor and amenities, the hotel has a modern, youthful and edgy feel.

Even in this city where it seems every building is more eye-popping and beautiful than the next, I could spot the hotel from a distance, thanks to the big, glowing green globes hanging in the entrance. Also visible from outside were oversized pillar candles, a startling lime-green lobby bar, gauzy sheer curtains, sculpted black chairs, retro chrome stools and music videos flashing on the walls. To a passerby, it might almost be mistaken for a happening nightclub.

Located in the heart of Barcelona, the 124-room hotel opened just over a year ago in a stylish 18th-century, eight-story home that was once a palatial residence with a handsome limestone facade and ornate iron doors (the only remnants of the original structure). Despite the hotel’s newness, it already completed a redesign and image makeover and just announced its second “debut,” including its new membership in Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Among the hotel’s recent additions are a choreographer who regularly rearranges everything from seating arrangements to lighting and music; a very Zen, indoor-outdoor Stone Spa; and a DJ who spins tunes on weekends. A rooftop pool and bar, as well as a fitness center, are scheduled to open this summer.

The glass-walled restaurant, Mexiterranee, combines Mediterranean, Catalan and Mexican ingredients to create an adventurous fusion cuisine with entrees such as steamed lamb with chilies, garlic and cactus flowers and olive oil-poached cod in a habanera sauce. The bar offers Barcelona’s only ceviche menu and surprisingly decent margaritas (served in martini glasses). Executive chef Jaume Brichs admitted that words like “tortilla” (which means an egg-potato dish in Spain) created a stumbling block when chefs convened to devise the menu.

Guestrooms are sleek and minimalistic, with plasma-screen TVs, in-room Wi-Fi, retro furnishings, clear globe lamps and L-shaped bedside tables the perfect size and height for breakfast in bed. A small box of chocolates from Cacao Sampaka, the city’s ultra-hip chocolatier, is the nighttime turndown treat. It beats a mint any time. Some stylish touches in the guestrooms, however, were a little impractical, such as the moody inset lighting. (Not so good if you need to actually see.) And when I wondered why there were no tissues, I was told that they are waiting to find the right box holder. And, while I’m complaining, a clock, as mundane as it may seem, would have been helpful.

But those minor annoyances were more than overshadowed by the hotel’s innovative, fun outlook. And that includes a creative array of excursions, from helicopter tours of Barcelona ($202), day trips to wine country or nearby pueblos ($98) to yacht charters (from $1,400). Those who want to stay in town can join a local chef on a shopping tour of La Boqueria, the public market, followed by a cooking class and lunch ($28). And tech-savvy guests can borrow a GPS system to get around on their own ($7). Sure, there are some travelers who may not appreciate the ironic appeal of munching on ceviche or sipping margaritas in Barcelona. But for your clients who want the newest and trendiest, Hotel Casanova is a perfect fit.

THE DETAILS

Hotel Casanova is located at Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 559, a short walk from Placa Catalunya, Passeig de Gracia and La Rambla. Rates start at $432.
866-849-6396
www.casanovabcnhotel.com

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