Casa Bonay, Barcelona

A neighbourhood hotel anchored in local culture and place.

Set on a leafy boulevard in central Barcelona, Casa Bonay sought to address the over-tourism problem in the city by catering to tourists and support locals in equal measure. Spaces within the hotel are independently run by local operators and the busy Libertine Bar is clearly a neighbourhood favourite. We’re seeing more hoteliers invest in the local economy, but CB owner Ines Miró Sans was one of the first to do it so well.

We arrived in a taxi through an entrance populated with plants, a bookshop and a medley of signage signalling the various outlets inside. We found the reception desk tucked away in an awkwardly small room off the lobby, and went to find our room. On the way, I noticed clever design details, like sisal on the lower walls of the hallways to avoid suitcase scuffs, and the roll-out of the typographic brand in the retro door numbers.

The 19th-century building was once a private residence, so corridors noodle around the building to connect the bedrooms, which come in all shapes and sizes. The interiors are simple and unpretentious – mosaic-tiled floors, hanging rails, bespoke furniture. There are handwoven blankets on the beds and locally-made stools, which are available to buy downstairs should you so wish.

In the lower room categories, room face an internal courtyard. Keep the voiles shut if you stay in one of those. Others have decked terraces with sun loungers and alfresco showers. The minibar is stocked with organic drinks and Catalan snacks, and room service is available. Both the guest information folder and the hotel’s own printed publication offer heaps of useful information and tips on the local area. Bathrooms are compact and no-frills, but well-designed. Products are Malin+Goetz.

The cavernous Libertine Bar is set in the property’s former garage so has an industrial and effortlessly theatrical vibe. There’s lots of large-scale modern art, comfy mid-century furniture and a chic, wood-panelled bar. It feels like an everyday, home-from-home sort of place. It’s populated with freelancers tapping at MacBooks by day, but come 7 o’clock, it gets loud and buzzy as locals finish work and tourists get back after a day of sightseeing.

On the roof, there’s a beach shack-inspired bar that does cocktails, tapas and a seasonal summer BBQ. Independently run outlets on site include an outpost of Barcelona favourite Satan’s Coffee Corner, and a pop-up restaurant. When we stayed it was King Kong Lady with a Catalan/Asian fusion menu.

"Mi casa es su casa"

The buffet breakfast features homemade granola, eggs cooked to order, while a ‘Worker’s Breakfast’ of espresso, orange juice and a sandwich is nice idea for those in a hurry.

Service is bright and breezy. Informal and hands-off but helpful if needed. The hotel is partnered with a beach club (Club Pati de Vela de Barcelona) so guests can borrow patin boats and paddle boards. Guests can also use the hotel bikes, browse the on-site bookshop, and sunbathe on the roof terrace. There’s no pool but there is a shower to cool down.

The bottom line

Perfect base in Barcelona, would 10/10 book again.

Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes, Barcelona, Spain
From €90