Barcelona is a city of astounding art and architecture, where every glance is filled with another memorable sight. Crowds of camera-toting tourists act like paparazzi in front of masterpieces by celebrity architect Antoni Gaudi. The luxurious accommodations at El Palauet are right in the middle of the action — the 1906 Art Nouveau building sits three blocks away from Gaudi’s La Pedrera on the famed Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona’s leafy answer to Rodeo Drive.
El Palauet is in a category by itself, neither regular hotel nor standard aparthotel. The building formerly was the mansion of a wealthy Barcelona family, and the word palauet means small palace in Catalan. For families, this is a rare opportunity to experience the elegance of Barcelona’s architecture in a thoroughly modern environment and a convenient location.
The ornate detailing on El Palauet’s facade continues inside, and it’s clear from the moment of check-in that all ages are welcome. The kids pounced on the heart-shaped red lollipops lined up in rows. The wow factor takes over from the moment guests step inside the 20th-century building and then enter their very 21st-century apartment.
Fun fact: Pere Falques, the architect who designed El Palauet, also designed the lampposts that rise from the ceramic tile benches along the Passeig de Gracia.
El Palauet has six two-bedroom, 1600-square-foot apartments, each with a full kitchen and two full baths, that overlook the Passeig de Gracia or the mountains. The lights, TVs and music are controlled by a high-tech Crestron automation system. An iPad contains all the controls; while the kids picked it all up immediately, including the TV embedded in the mirror, it look a little more time for the adults (though there are light controls on walls as well).
Frescoed, arched ceilings and 10-foot-high doors create a sense of spaciousness within the apartment, which sleeps four comfortably and a third child on the sofa if needed. The design allows for an easy flow between rooms and includes little nooks for reading and relaxing.
Bathrooms are not usually a highlight of accommodations, but my kids voted them the best feature of El Palauet. The floor-to-ceiling clear cylinder showers, the soaking tubs and the dressing rooms awed everyone, and the kids in particular were fascinated by the discovery of the very special toilet. The Toto built-in bidet model with water sprayer, warm air dryer and heated seats is an irresistible novelty.
Service is a high priority at El Palauet. The staff contact each guest before arrival to inquire what they might need and make a point at check-in to offer their assistance. I usually don’t take enough advantage of great service, but when I had to stay in for the night with a stomach bug, I fully appreciated their offer to order, pick up and set up my dinner at the dining table. For an additional charge, guests can enjoy breakfast served in their apartment, or lunch or dinner delivered from several area restaurants.
The spa was under renovation during our stay, so we didn’t have an opportunity to experience it, but in warmer weather this would be a lovely end-of-day spot to relax. There is a massage room and a soaking pool to cool off.
El Palauet is located at 113 Passeig de Gracia, the prestigious shopping capital of Barcelona, filled with designer boutiques and chain stores. The hotel sits outside the busiest section of the street, so there are no crowds of people passing by and noise is not a factor. It’s a leisurely 30-minute walk to the Gothic Quarter and a much quicker taxi ride back.
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Editor’s Note: El Palauet hosted Kristi and her family in order to review the property. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Kristi Marcelle except where noted.
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