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There are plenty of reasons to visit Barcelona, but one of the best is to enjoy the modernist architecture. Antoni Gaudi's basilica, La Sagrada Familia, is the most well-known example, but Gaudi was simply the biggest star of the Catalan art nouveau movement that launched Barcelona as a style capital. More than a century later, the design quotient is still high. If you want to stay in a hotel that lives up to the city's proud style standards, you'll find good options at many budget levels.
Hotel Casa Fuster
When Gaudi contemporary Lluis Domenech i Montaner designed this striking modernist structure in 1908, he pulled out all the stops, with opulent marbles, elaborate ornamentation and exquisite woodwork. The 105 rooms in this private-residence-turned-hotel are decorated in a deluxe interpretation of modernist style, making them some of the most elegant places in Barcelona to stay at. Located just 4 blocks north of La Pedrera, Casa Fuster is close to L'Eixample's most chic shopping area. The on-site Café Vienés serves up a generous tea in the afternoon and hot jazz every Thursday night.
The most reasonably priced of Barcelona's modernist hotels, the España began life as a simple inn tucked behind La Rambla, near La Boqueria market. In 1903, Lluis Domenech i Montaner finished his work with a team of modernist artists to transform it into a small, tasteful gem. An overhaul in 2010 restored the bold original beauty of the España while fitting it with all the comforts of the 21st century. Public areas, including super-chef Martin Berasategui's gourmet restaurant, preserve the grandeur of old Barcelona. The clean-lined, contemporary guest rooms — draped in mauve, taupe and milk chocolate — are perfect for a soothing escape from the city's hectic pace.
The best of old and new meet in this Gothic Quarter hotel with a remarkable 18th-century sgraffito facade. Most of the 31 studio apartments in this historic structure include vaulted ceilings, big wooden ceiling beams, and exposed brick and stone walls. Parquet floors, black slate bathrooms and fully equipped kitchens accompany the sleek, modern furnishings. A rooftop terrace and outdoor pool provide a view over the oldest part of the city. The cafe scene of Placa Reial is a few blocks west, and the Picasso Museum is only a few blocks east.
Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World doesn't always go to Barcelona, but when he does, he probably stays at the opulent Hotel 1898. Named for the watershed year when Spain lost its empire, the hotel conjures a bygone era of colonial privilege. It inhabits the former headquarters of the Philippines Tobacco Co. in the heart of La Rambla. Dark wood paneling and vivid wall colors combine with graceful, stylish upholstered furniture to produce a cocoon of comfort in each very spacious room and suite. The spa has an indoor pool beneath a brick barrel arch, while the rooftop terrace features a heated outdoor pool.
Credit: Travel Channel