Chic and cheer­ful in Barcelona

ROOM AT THE INN

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Europe - PHIL JAR­RATT

CHIC & Ba­sic Ram­blas? OK, the name is just a lit­tle off­putting, too close to ‘‘cheap and nasty’’ for com­fort. But hav­ing de­cided at the last minute on a stay in Barcelona, I dis­cover the ho­tels I know are full or out of range of my groan­ing credit cards.

How­ever, the re­cently ren­o­vated Chic & Ba­sic Ram­blas is in a per­fect po­si­tion, just a few back­street blocks from La Ram­bla, with its sur­round­ing great shop­ping, ta­pas bars and nightlife, and a short walk to the beach, the port, the mar­kets and the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Af­ter a small com­edy of er­rors find­ing the place in a maze of nar­row, one-way lanes, I drive down a foot­path and across a small park (be­fore be­ing shown the more con­ven­tional route) and ar­rive at one of the most in­ven­tive lob­bies I’ve seen.

A1960s SEAT 600D with suit­cases piled on its lug­gage rack takes pride of place on the pol­ished floor op­po­site the re­cep­tion desk, which features an­other pile of lug­gage clev­erly in­te­grated into its de­sign.

Six­ties-style Dan­ish lounge chairs and cof­fee ta­bles are dot­ted around and a min­i­mal­ist cafe buzzes with late lunch­ers at 4pm. The over­all ef­fect is ba­sic but, well, chic.

I’m de­lighted by the help­ful (and mul­ti­lin­gual) greet­ing of the front-desk staff.

Francesc Mun­cu­nill — listed as di­rec­tor on the busi­ness card he slips into my hand while we talk — ex­plains the group’s phi­los­o­phy of turn­ing ba­sic spa­ces into chic ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ences be­fore he helps squeeze me and my min­i­mal­ist lug­gage into the ba­sic lift for the ride to the fourth floor.

A 1960s Span­ish SEAT 600D sits op­po­site the ho­tel’s re­cep­tion desk

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