The most beautiful and oft-visited cities in the world never fail to conjure up powerful images that remain in the collective consciousness long after one’s initial visit: Sydney’s dreamlike harbour, Rome’s Colosseum, the homes of Gaudí in Barcelona… these outstanding constructions give each city a ‘wow’ factor that tourists respond to, year after year, and the cities they are located in will often capitalise on these revered landmarks, paying homage to them through well-considered architectural works.

The Vincci Group, which specialises in four- and five-star hotels in Spain, Portugal and Tunisia, certainly picked the right location for the Vincci Gala, a strangely appealing clash between tradition and modernism. The building itself dates to 1900; many of its features are officially protected as part of the Cultural Heritage of Barcelona, including the stately and classical main façade and the graceful marble main staircase, covered in lush red velvet and meritorious of an appearance in a dramatic Hollywood film from the 1940s or 1950s. Indeed, one could be forgiven for wondering why the architects had not opted for a more retro flair, since the building seemingly lends itself to such an interpretation. Instead they decided to play with perception; viewed from outside, the Gala looks like any elegant 19th century hotel you might find on New York’s Fifth Avenue or Madrid’s La Castellana. The wide crystal door highlights the spectacular staircase, as well as the avante-garde details located on either side.

Location is everything, of course, and this hotel is located smack bang in the most central area of Gaudí’s dream city, just a few steps away from the Plaza de Cataluña and the fragrant Las Ramblas, strewn with colourful bouquets of flowers and teeming with tourists keen on savouring the very essence of this 21st-century city. The youthful vibe surrounding the hotel exudes modernity, though perhaps the key inspiration in the hotel’s design is its name: ‘Gala’ the wife and muse of artist Salvador Dalí, whose moustachioed countenance decorates various walls of the hotel via large-scale black-and-white photographs which add a touch of humour and joi de vivre to common areas like the entrance hall. New to the hotel’s look is the use of ‘DuPont™ Corian solid surface’ constructions in the bar area; bearing the aptly named tone, Deep Nocturne, the jet black, solid material contrasts beautifully with the gold trimmings and stark red backdrop of the bar, its matte elegance revealing Architect, Miguel Jordá’s penchant for cutting edge technology.

Indeed, all areas in the Hotel are dominated by a balanced interplay of red, bright yellow, dark brown/black and white/beige hues, including the rooms, of which there are 78. Double rooms, measuring a compact yet comfortable 20m2, can be equipped with one double bed or two individual beds. Superior rooms are 28m2 and also offer guests a choice of bed types. The rooms are comfy yet cool, with lacquered tables, futuristic headboard designs and stark white and grey bathrooms with appealing linear blue LED-light features on the mirror. All bathrooms offer guests the luxury of plush robes and slippers.

We grew particularly enamoured by a double room with tall sliding crystal doors, which opened up to a tantalising terrace overlooking a tree whose branches stretched out lovingly over the busy streets below. It’s not all just about good looks at the Vincci Gala; the rooms come with features such as soundproofing, a media hub, air conditioning/heating, WiFi, and handy items in the bathroom such as magnifying mirrors, hairdryers, etc.
Service is also up to scratch, with the friendly multi-lingual staff ensuring that rooms are cleaned daily, newspapers are available, and that laundry, dry cleaning and car rentals are taken care of. The Hotel restaurant serves a hearty breakfast buffet and snacks are available all day at the Snack Bar. The Vincci Gala is a popular choice for entrepreneurs and conferences, yet it has a plethora of secret nooks that couples and families alike will look forward to resting in after a weary day’s sightseeing: the terrace, for instance, peppered with dramatic, geometric chairs and tables, is the perfect spot to relax and catch up on some great conversation over a coffee or soul-soothing cocktail.

The Hotel’s central location means that guests make the most of the buzzing restaurant scene and night life; the exquisite Giorgio Barcelona is famed for its authentic Italian dishes, while O’Marulo is highly renowned for its seasonal Mediterranean delights. You may spend most of your time taking in the sites of one of the stunning cities in the world, but don’t forget to make special memories within the walls of the Vincci Gala; the hotel is said to have an aroma so sweet that many guests opt to buy the special perfume and take it home.

Words Marisa Cutillas – Photography courtesy of the Vincci Gala 4*