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Tried & Tested: Reviews The Serras, Barcelona, Spain

author: April Hutchinson

Fans of Picasso will already know that this hotel is in the building where he had his first studio in Barcelona, and miraculously painted Ciencia y Caridad aged just 15. When you visit the enormous painting in the nearby Museu Picasso you have to wonder if some

of the great artist’s ambition didn’t rub off the owner of The Serras, Jordi Serra, a first-time hotelier who made his money in IT and has now created a work of art of his own in his hometown. At just 28 rooms, it may not

sound ambitious, but the quality of the hotel is impressive. It was also brave to put a hotel on Passeig de Colom on the waterfront, where for a seaside city, surprisingly few others exist. The decision is wise, given the £96 million regeneration of Port Vell and Soho House opening up the street next year.

Views of the port can be enjoyed

from the rooftop, home to a small pool, a bar and cosy fireplace – on my visit in March, post-dinner drinks carried on until 3am with general manager Antonio Bignone and his deputy Ona Matas, whose hard work in opening their first hotel together for Mr Serra definitely shines through. Another masterpiece is Informal,

the restaurant by Marc Gascons, the Michelin-starred chef and owner of Els Tinars in Girona. I feasted on fried artichokes with

romesco; tuna tartar with avocado, soy and wasabi mayonnaise; and soft pillows of creamy gnocchi and caviar Per Se, with a DJ-backed soundtrack and great wines. Relaxation is key here, with guests checked in with a glass of Cava. The Library is shoehorned in as a

mezzanine bar with an interesting cocktail menu to sample before a night in neighbouring Gothic quarter. Later, beds fit for a king induce sleep – they’re made by British company Hypnos, holder of the Royal Warrant. The hotel only opened in

January but it’s already a member of Design Hotels, with its geometric prints, art and

sumptuous finishes orchestrated by Eva Martinez. Flashes of mustard

punctuated my monochrome room, as did a freestanding bathtub, while in the bathroom, a smart push-button Hansgrohe shower and Malin and Goetz amenities finished it off nicely. Tel: 00 34 93 169 1868

How to book it Rooms from €238 B&B. Monarch flies from Birmingham, Gatwick, Leeds Bradford and Manchester from £72.98,,

No. 131 The Promenade, Cheltenham, UK Originally a private residence,

author: Abigail Challenor

In advance of my arrival at No. 131, I received an email outlining the weather forecast, local events and asking if I’d like any movies downloaded on my room’s Apple TV. It was like they already knew me. And that’s the delight of this

hotel, a Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse with views over Imperial Gardens. From the oversized sofas, fireplaces and reading materials in the lounge, to the hot water bottles and hot milk with chocolate stirring sticks and cookies that appeared in the room after dinner – I felt like I was being second guessed at every step; in a good way.

No. 131 was unoccupied for seven years before Sam and Georgina Pearman, owners of Cotswold- based hospitality empire The Lucky Onion, gave it an extensive facelift. In the process an eclectic style has emerged at the self-labelled “restaurant with rooms” that melds Georgian features with fixtures and fittings drawing on industrial chic and retro trends. Antique radiators and vintage-style linens by Three Thieving Magpies sit alongside bold patterned tiles and artwork by David Hockney and Sir Peter Blake. The 11 rooms are available as

Cosy, Very Good or Excellent. I could easily have whiled away an afternoon in my bathroom, sunken down a short twist of stairs. Its dark wooden floors, deep blue subway tiles and restored Rogeat Lyon bath perfectly accessorised by 100 Acre. Highlights of the bedroom

included a Loewe TV with Apple TV and Sky entertainment, Nespresso machine and a cornucopia of minibar delights. In the restaurant I discovered chandeliers hung over oxblood leather banquettes and a menu that featured organic ingredients,

where possible sourced from local farmers and artisan producers. Steaks cooked in the wood-fired Josper oven took prime position but I had to try the tuna tartare and Chermoula roasted aubergine rounded off by a Hot Chocolate Orange Pudding. An excess of food had me

reluctantly bypassing the downstairs Crazy Eights bar with its wine and cheese room, billiards room and enticing

cocktail menu, instead chosing to head for my Egyptian cotton-lined bed and hot water bottle instead. Cosseted doesn’t come close. Tel: 01242 822939

How to book it Rooms from £150pn, with a continental breakfast. No. 131 is trade-friendly with commission paid on all bookings.


Stylish debut

Gorgeous Georgian

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