Update: Unfortunately Jean-Luc Figueras, mentioned in this post, passed away on September 3, 2014. He has left behind an amazing legacy in fine-dining. Our thoughts go out to his family.
Christmas was spent back home but, as usual, over a very short and packed 6-day trip including two 14h flights.
Because we had very little time and I wanted to show Sam everything there was to Barcelona in only 4 days, cut short because of the multiple Christmas holidays, I had prepared an itinerary with tourist sights and activities as well as good food, the best way to experience the Catalan way of life.
So on Christmas eve day, as we finished the visits to Casa Batllo and La Pedrera and sat down for a pre-diner drink, exhaustion kicked in. Suddenly, the 30 min car ride back home seemed like a major effort. Moreover, the driving would not allow me to enjoy a couple of wine glasses with what we were anticipating as a great dinner at Jean-Luc Figueras’ restaurant. So we thought: why not stay at the hotel where the restaurant was?
Mercer Hotel Barcelona: History
We had picked JLF restaurant upon the recommendation of a friend of mine who always knows the latest restaurants to open up. He told me that the hotel was a very romantic and cosy place filled with history. His words were an understatement.
Have you ever dined surrounded by 2,000 year old walls? You can do this at the Mercer Hotel Barcelona. Part of the Mercer Group, the hotel is in a small palace occupied by a rich family until the hotel chain bought it in 2003. It took almost 10 years to refurbish and reveal the magic of the place.
The oldest parts of the hotel are built around the former Roman walls of the city of Barcino and date from the I Century. Other parts of the hotel were re-built and constructed on top of the older Roman structures during the Gothic period and up until the XIX Century.
When you sit down for dinner you feel that the walls must have seen it all. Wars, disputes, family tragedies…Roman soldiers used to run through the 78 towers on Barcino’s walls in case of attack. If you book one of the private rooms in the restaurant you will be savoring your meal in one of these towers which are considered National Heritage and have been preserved until today.
Mercer Hotel Barcelona: The restaurant and rooms
The food was excellent but it was made magical by the thought of the history contained in those 4 walls. The restaurant is intimate and with the right lighting creating a warm atmosphere.
Luckily we had decided to check in into one of the hotel’s rooms so we got to enjoy the wine pairing with the meal and then retired to our equally charming and historical room. Rooms are spartan and mostly white with visible rock blocks which make up the walls. Finishing are very representative of the Catalan style: modern and antique all at the same time.
There are 28 rooms including a Presidential 150 square meter suite on the top floor which opens onto the main facade and is flanked by columns. Almost all rooms have terraces with sunbeds which face the internal patios, so typical of the old part of Barcelona.
The hotel is luxurious and homey at the same time, if that is at all possible. Relatively compact and appearing unexpectedly in a dark and narrow alley that is so characteristic of the Barri Gothic. In the middle, a courtyard with natural light and trees provides a bright spot in which to relax. Velvet and rustic are used in equal measure throughout and the lighting is perfect in every spot of the hotel.
Mercer Hotel Barcelona: The Verdict
Needless to say we had an absolutely magical stay, one to remember and to talk to everyone about. It was romantic and exclusive, as if we had uncovered a long-lost secret. I can’t think of a more special place to spend a few days in Barcelona at.
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