I'm a huge fan of great boutique hotels, hotels with a personality of their own. They always inspire the interior designer side of me and bring new ideas to mind. So whenever I get a chance, that's where I like to stay. During our trip to Barcelona we stayed at Ohla Hotel, a great boutique hotel located right in the middle of Barcelona. Like most buildings in Barcelona it has a very traditional look to it but it's been revamped to suit a modern lifestyle with a touch of whimsy for a little bit of fun.
Before entering the hotel, I noticed the facade of the building adorned with random floating balls on the front and on the side (purple wall) of the building : the first sign of whimsy. It's like an art installation. I don't think they had any other purpose but to add something fun to the building and clearly differenciate it from other building without being too obvious. It made it easy to identify from a distance while walking around.
Once inside, upon our arrival, there was this little statue in a jumpsuit above the stair right in front of the entrance. You couldn't help but noticing it with the candle vases on either sides of the stairs, guiding your eyes toward it. The reception desk on the side. It must be interesting to see the reaction of people as they enter the space for the first time.
The booking paperwork was done one floor above. I noticed the really nice large spiral staircase that goes all the way up to the 8th floor. I really like the contrast between the solid white railing and the black stairs as well as the way the light fixture line up the inside of the stair. I wish I would have taken more pictures. It was pretty piece of art in itself.
Hotels in Spain usually require to see your passport upon registration so it tends to takes a little longer to get your room key. The registration area was very comfortable and well appointed. We could sit comfortably, have a glass of water.
Since we arrived a little early (7 AM), we were invited to spend some time at the hotel bar where complementary drinks (water, juice, coffee, tea) were available while our room was getting ready. The bar has a great view of the main street, Via Laetana, where we got to see the morning hustling and bustling of Barcelonians and tourists in the morning. The bar was very comfortable with a lot of seating options and really neat design features like the "shower of lamps" above the counter and the random wood boxes on the wall giving it texture and volume. We went back a couple times during our stay for drinks.
We got a corner room with lots of window and great views of the city. Barcelona is a very sunny place and thankfully the curtain they used were amazing (very useful to catch up on sleep during the day). There was a sheer curtain that gave us privacy while being able to see outside and a second layer of very effective black out curtains. When they were drawn, we could not tell if it was day time or night time outside.
Having stayed in Barcelona for a couple days, I understand why you don't see a lot of large windows on buildings. You don't need them as much because the sun is so bright. I also noticed that a lot of buildings have outdoor curtains to block the sun, as shown on the picture on the top left with the green blinds. It also gives the building a uniform look. The ones I've seen were simple and had only one colour. It would be fun to play with them a little and either add different colours to create a pattern or designs something on it and use them almost as canvas section for a large piece. It's too bad I didn't have enough time to do some urban sketches of the views from our windows. They would have been really nice.
Our room was fantastic! It was always very clean, well appointed, comfortable and beautiful. One of the room key was used to activate the room. There was also a main switch (the large one on the right) to close all the light before leaving. It's a great way to save energy. The attention to detail is great. Even the phone display had our name on it with a welcoming message. My hubby even noticed that after the rooms were done, as supervisor would come to check the room with a ruler to check the bed! :)
The room was more like a loft. The only closed rooms were the toilet room and the shower stall. I love how the walls were mostly black in the back so that the tub stood out almost like a piece of art in a museum. There was quite a bit of storage as well and the wood accent ad warmth to the space.
The flooring in the entry and bathroom were giant grey tiles (approx 4 ft x 4ft), which I assumed are easy to clean. The shower walls also had giant tiles (4ft x 10ft). It's definitely something I would want to do in my own home (easy to clean and very sleek). I also like the ideas of the drain along the perimeter of the floor (again one giant tile) as long as the water don't sit under the tile.
The sink was facing the living area, which was nice if you wanted to check the TV while getting ready. We didn't have much time for TV but I did sneak in a couple spanish TV shows. It's nice to see what people from other countries watch and fascinating to realize how alike we are. Notice how they hid the cable from the wall mounted TV and how neat the overhead lighting is. You can't see any fixture on the ceiling, everything is hidden for a sleek look but give you a good amount of lighting. Whoever designed this did a really good job.
The living area was very comfortable. We ordered room service once and ate there. (It was really good). The loveseat featured an ottoman that could either be close to the sofa to create a lounging area, or moved away to get more leg room.
The desk area had a large working surface and was very practical and beautiful in its simplicity. Notice the great uniform lighting on the entire surface. That's what I call attention to detail. No wires in sight. I'm not much of a minibar type of person, but the selection was ok. Since the hotel is located right across two convenience stores with a lot more selection, including a large selection of inexpensive Spanish wine (I think some were 4 Euros), it's probably not a top priority.
The amenities were nice and were always replenished when required. Thankfully they weren't worried about people stealing their hangers. (I have this pet peeve about hotels using these silly hangers that you can't take out of the closet) We also had robes and slippers. They thought about everything.
Another amazing feature of the hotel is the rooftop glass pool and bar. It's like an oasis in the middle of the city. A nice place to relax and cool off.
The views from up there were absolutely stunning.
At night the pool is closed and the area turn into and outdoor lounge. The hotel even has its own newletter "The Ohla Hotel Times" with the menu and latest related news.
The included breakfast at the hotel was excellent. Every morning we had a selection of freshly made juices, fruits, cereals, bread, cheeses, cold cuts, Cava (Spanish champagne), as well as cook to order eggs, crepes and waffles.
We also had tapas there on two occasions and didn't even have time to check out their restaurant on the second floor. The food was great. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was too busy eating after longs days of urban sketching or rushing to eat breakfast before heading out to my morning workshops. I only took pictures the last day we had breakfast there. Ah well, I guess we'll have to go back ;)
Of all the boutique hotels that I've been to thus far (I'll probably blog about them later on), Ohla takes the number one spot. I definitely recommend it.