Barcelona has always been an important city, from the time it was a fort for Roman soldiers, and in the Gothic Quarter you can still find many examples of architecture from across the ages. But it was the arrival of visionary architect Antoni Gaudí that put the Catalan city on the modern map, and it’s his work that has ensured Barcelona continues to be one of Europe’s premier destinations for tourists and art aficionados alike.
Expectations, then, are high when a swanky new hotel opens its doors in that Gothic Quarter, with such exalted company all around it. The Mercer Hotel – no relation to Downtown Manhattan’s famous hip-hangout – is a five star affair with everything that entails, but perhaps the real star of the show is the building itself, incorporating a section of the Roman walls that made up the ancient town of Barcino.
These sections of history, renovated by Pritzker Prize winner Rafael Moneo, have been well-utilised, and give the hotel a real sense of atmosphere in a city already oozing with the stuff. The simple, clean interior sensibly declines to compete with its host building. The Mercer is a stonewall classic if ever we’ve seen one.