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Barcino / el Gòtic / BCN

Mercer Hotel Barcelona by Rafael Moneo

By Brian Gallagher 01.02.13

Architectural conservation and refurbishment can at times be either overly sensitive or not rigorous enough, Rafael Moneo however appears to have achieved the perfect pitch with the Mercer Hotel Barcelona. The site consisted of a hodge podge of archaeological ruins and remnants from the Roman period through to the 19th C Barcelona and was once even occupied by squatters. Yet the refurbished building now accommodating a 5 star Gran Lujo hotel is both modern, sophisticated and antique all at the same time; all the paraphernalia associated with fire regulations and other modern necessities are expertly handled here. Each of its constituent stone walls left visible is a collage of historical periods perfectly legible whose story begins with the Roman fortifications of Barcino, the original name of the city dating from the first Century A.D. Where the contemporary building now stands was in fact the area between fortification tower 28 and 29 with the former incorporated within the hotel interior, the library accessed from the cocktail bar. For anyone curious about the methods used by the Romans to protect their settlements traces of the tower and the city walls form the mosaic of periods and uses that define the building.

Organised around a central courtyard with 17th C columns planted with orange trees the first impression is of light and space, the 28 room hotel complex is like a Chinese puzzle distributed over different levels with artefacts from the Roman, Medieval and the 19th C. The reception, bar and dining room areas are accommodated within self contained spaces interconnected in labyrinthine fashion. Frescoes, decorative motifs, sculpted stone, corbels, truncated beams emerge from the surrounding building envelope to evoke the archaeological traces of its past incarnations. The glass curtain wall, lift installation and roof terrace with its plunge pool are the give away clues of the 21st Century, pasts and present intertwined with a range of stylish spaces that the general public can equally enjoy; the Vermut Mercerino (designed by Salvador Fresneda) with its own independent access from the street, the cocktail bar, the Mercerino restaurant directed by Catalan chef Josep María Massó and rooftop bar and terrace with views over the emblematic church spires and historical building within the Gótico that will be open to the public during the evening from March 2013 onwards. Conscious that they are the caretakers of a significant patrimony belonging to Barcelona the owners have made a conscious effort to welcome non staying guests who can enjoy the refurbishment and conservation works; midday lunch menu for 22 Euros, a cocktail for 10 Euros or an evening ‘tasting’ menu for 35 or 60 Euros.

  • Entrance to the hotel fom Calle del Lledó

  • View of the Hotel Mercer Barcelona lobby with courtyard in background

    The smallest bedroom measures approximately 30 sq.m., while the largest Gran Suite consists of 150 sq.m.  Designed by Moneo all the rooms have a bathroom and separate WC, a corian© WHB free standing unit, timber floors, designer light fittings, Egyptian linen sheets and with natural light either looking onto the street or one of the 3 internal patios 2 of which are provided with vertically planted green gardens.  

  • The 'Mercerino Vermut' bar with its own entrance from the street

  • The courtyard with three orange trees

  • Moneo's design brings togther the modern and the antique

  • The hotel's historical stone walls are mostly left visible

  • Practical and elegant bathroom design

  • The hotel dining room caters to both hotel guests and other visitors