So much more than just the hippest hotel in Barcelona, Casa Bonay is a showcase of homegrown talent and a creative hub of Catalan local life.
What if I was to tell you that you could find a comfortable place to sleep, a concept store selling custom-made designer goods, a handsomely appointed co-working lounge, a stylish cocktail bar, a pop-up Vietnamese eatery, an experimental restaurant, a quirky independent bookstore, a breezy rooftop ‘beach bar’, a garden with daily yoga classes, a cold-pressed juicery and a trendy cafe serving some of the best coffee in town – all under one roof? The roof of a beautifully restored 19th Century mansion in the heart of Barcelona.
Yep, this place actually exists. It’s a carefully crafted boutique hotel called Casa Bonay and one of the hottest openings in Barcelona this year.
MI CASA ES SU CASA
Co-owner, Inés Miró-Sans is at the helm of this ambitious project, but her vision only became a reality through the collective imagination of a cherry-picked creative community. Casa Bonay is the result of collaboration between a set of passionate, young entrepreneurs. It’s a splendid showcase of homegrown talent and a space that is so much more than a hotel, but a creative hub at the heart of Catalan local life.
Miró-Sans has a background in hospitality and was heavily influenced by her experience working for The Ace Hotel chain, which is famed for their innovative approach to the hotel business. Conceptual hotels have gained worldwide popularity in recent years, as aesthetically inclined travellers are keen to immerse themselves in the city’s cultural scene and have an express desire live ‘like a local’. This is a new wave of accommodation; hotels have evolved into something so much more than just a place to sleep, but a lifestyle.
At the core of this modern reimagining of what a hotel is supposed to be, is an appreciation of design. Miro-Sans collaborated with Brooklyn-based firm Studio Track to seamlessly blend historic architectural elements and modern design in this restored neoclassical mansion. The original features from the 1869 building have been retained – high ceilings, patterned hydraulic tiled floors and a marble spiralling staircase. The impeccably decorated space flaunts a bespoke fit-out, superb craftsmanship and an eclectic style that draws on Catalan and global influences.
Word-of-mouth has spread and Casa Bonay is gradually making a name for itself as the place to stay for discerning travellers, as well as a hub of contemporary cultural life in Barcelona. The ever-evolving space is used for hosting events such as DJ sets, summer dance parties, a craft beer brewing festival and pop-up foodie events in partnership with acclaimed local chefs.
The grand Catalan Neoclassical exterior is typical of buildings along the tree-lined boulevards of L’Eixample. Casa Bonay looks particularly lush; mint green shutters, luminous floor to ceiling windows and splendid wooden doors flung open into a striking entrance bedecked by a jungle-like assortment of potted plants.
Once inside, I am already impressed by the lofty foyer, large marble staircase and a striking art-deco style chandelier by designers Santa & Cole, who have curated the lighting throughout the entire hotel. I wheel my luggage along the lengthy corridor flanked with potted palms and fixed-gear bikes. There’s a pop-up library run by local indie publisher Blackie Books with an eye-catching display of books and magazines for sale. I finally locate the reception, which is tucked away to the right.
The front desk has an informal feel; it’s a small space fitted-out with a simple pegboard aesthetic custom-made by furniture designer Marc Morro from AOO Boutique. The exceedingly hip staff members are dressed in casual cotton uniforms created by the talented BaTabasTa team – whose bold, playful prints can be found around the hotel from the fabric detailing to the wallpaper.
The hotel staff are friendly, but don’t expect gold-class service as this hotel is all about lifestyle, not luxury. Once you’ve checked in, you’re on your own to take luggage to your room. I happen to prefer this nonchalant, unobtrusive approach. Reception will happily offer you insider tips on what to do in town, store your luggage if you arrive early or call you a taxi to the airport. Don’t forget this is Spain – check-in isn’t until 3pm. On the other hand, checkout is at the entirely reasonable hour of 12pm.
THE COURTYARD MEDIUM SUITE
The room is bright with newly minted décor, crisp white sheets and that kind of oomph you get from fresh licks of paint. There are calming splashes of tropical blue and green in the décor, which is very much in keeping with the colour palette of the entire hotel. The minimalist Scandinavian style (Think: white walls, clean lines and light wood details) are nicely balanced by the warmth of the restored mosaic tiling. Couples will be pleased to know that although compact in size, the shower and bathroom are separate. The bespoke, herbaceous toiletries by Ana Las Lilas are made using a strict biodynamic process; from the olive oil soap to the oat and bergamot shampoo.
The room feels breezy and spacious. There’s a simple double bed neatly made with the blue stitched, handcrafted blanket by textile company, Teixidors. Sliding doors open into to a separate lounge where dappled sunlight pours in through the blinds. This comfy nook has a teal green sofa, surrealist printed pillows by BaTabasTa and a triplet of hexagonal side tables handmade by Marc Morro. There’s a selection of on-point publications to flip through in the cosy corner, and while I’m at it why not kick back with some gourmet mini-bar snacks and cheeky nip of Belvedere vodka? I could always work it off later using the complimentary yoga mat.
ELEPHANT, CROCODILE, MONKEY
Argentinian-born chef, Estanislao Carenzo, keeps things exciting by using the same stylish venue to create two pop-up restaurants. TET, which is open for lunch, is a relaxed eatery serving Vietnamese BBQ, crispy spring rolls and fragrant soups such as pho. Meanwhile, the main restaurant Elephant, Crocodile, Monkey has an ever-evolving menu and serves experimental small plates designed for sharing. Expect natural wines and rare sherry on the drinks menu.
At the very end of the grand atrium there is a green neon sign that illuminates the word Libertine. There’s a dark elegance to Libertine; like a moody 1920s film set with the vaulting ceiling held up by iron columns, dark green walls, large mirrors made of panelled antique glass above the black marble fireplace and hints of opulent materials such as gold, velvet, leather and dark timber. There are also few bohemian touches like the rattan chairs, patterned Turkish kilims and the grand chandelier (again, Santa & Cole) is inspired by Istanbul’s glorious Hagia Sophia. The morning sunshine peeks in through the skylights whilst I linger over a cup of coffee and read the paper. It’s the picture-perfect co-working lounge complete with a communal table with retro fitted lamps, plug in units, Wi-Fi and you can even order coffee from Satan’s next-door.
In the evenings Libertine becomes a destination cocktail bar with guest DJs, well-heeled patrons and an alluring atmosphere. I find myself tempted by the sound of laughter, music and sherry glasses clinking and discover what looks like a magnificent house party alive with the fashionable local crowd.
SATAN’S COFFEE CORNER
Cult café in El Gothic has opened its second store as coffee trailblazer, Marco Bartolome, partners with Casa Bonay. The new café is an inviting, light-filled space with contemporary details such as a marble bench top, concrete floors, light wooden benches, white tiles, exposed pipes and plenty of hanging interior plants.
They serve high-quality coffee all day, and light snacks from house-baked granola cookies, cinnamon buns to healthy mango chia pots.
Satan’s is also in charge on the a la carte breakfast menu served to hotel guests in Libertine from 7am-12pm. Choose a beverage; freshly squeezed orange juice, tea or batch brew coffee. There is a range of appealing breakfast dishes; from quinoa bircher muesli, black rice pudding with coconut milk, linseed, blood orange and hazelnuts, to a sourdough pumpkin toast with braised leeks, poached egg and granola.
There’s also the special savoury Japanese menu with options such as the chousyoku; rice and millet bowl, dashi soup, tamago, pickles and pak choi. Although not included in the price of accommodation, it’s totally worth spoiling yourself with a nourishing, beautifully presented breakfast.
EL CHIRINGUITO DE BONAY
This bright and breezy space opened it’s doors in June. Whilst it might not boast the beach views of Barcelonetta, El Chiringuito translates to the ‘beach bar’ and that’s exactly the vibe they’ve created. The open courtyard is fitted out with wicker chairs, tropical fabrics and thatched awnings. With expansive rooftop views and the drinks flowing, it’s the perfect place to while away a summer’s evening. Meanwhile the fragrant garden, brought to life by Casa Bonay’s go-to gardener, Alejandra Coll, is a peaceful haven to enjoy the daily morning yoga classes and fresh juices.
Casa Bonay is located in the iconic Eixample Dret neighbourhood, along the peaceful end of the Gran Via. Its central position makes it ideal for exploring the city on foot. It’s only a mere walking distance from the historic, rambling streets of El Gothic, the artsy El Born district, grand boulevards of Eixample, lush gardens of Parc de la Ciutadella and main tourist attractions such as Gaudi’s magnificent Sagrada Familia. You could easily cycle to bohemian Gracia or if you’re dreaming of a day at the beach, Barcelontetta. The closest metro station Tetuan runs along the L2 line, so it’s an easy train ride to the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Poble Sec.
Room prices vary depending on season. Visit Casa Bonay for more information.
The writer was a guest of Casa Bonay. My opinion is, and will always be, my own. The Portmanteau Press only includes content that aligns with the aesthetic, standard and values of the brand.