Primero Primera

Tres Torres, Barcelona, Spain Book from Eur150

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
An elegant boutique hotel that feels like home, set in a quiet residential district 10 minutes from the city centre
When we stayed at Primero Primera, Barcelona had virtually ground to a halt due to a general strike, but there can be few places as lovely as this to hunker down for 24 hours and wait for the world to resume normality. It's not that this sort of thing happens often here (we timed our visit badly!); more that even though things around us were slightly crazy, we still felt totally relaxed in this lovely hotel. From the moment your taxi drops you in the leafy residential neighbourhood of Tres Torres to the moment you see your beautiful room and let out a contented sigh (you will), this place feels like home - though probably a lot more stylish.

In the entrance hall, vintage trunks and scented candles. Up winding stairs, big silver lanterns and stone Buddhas. There are delightful communal areas - a lounge with battered leather sofas, an honesty bar and a fire; a help-yourself coffee area; a restaurant/café serving simple food. Rooms (there are 30) are very spacious as this used to be an apart-hotel, and spread over 4 floors. The owners live on the first floor; the rest are guest spaces. Imagine crisp white linens on very good beds, deep bathtubs, perhaps a terrace to soak up the tranquility. If you want a peaceful base in a hectic city, you could do no better.

Highs

  • Chic rooms with pillow menus, Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, free soft-drink minibars and old-fashioned cups and saucers for tea
  • A sense of elegance throughout, yet it's easy and comfortable. Particularly popular with older couples and second-time Barcelona visitors
  • Friendly staff who put you on the inside track to the city
  • We loved the quirky details, such as antique suitcases, faded black and white photos, and a sketch map of Barcelona on the library wall with moveable pointers of interest
  • An excellent breakfast buffet

Lows

  • You're out of the city centre and will probably rely on taxis, though they're not expensive and a metro station is close if you prefer
  • A quiet atmosphere, so not for party-goers
  • The restaurant/café is fairly simple but there are good restaurants a short walk away
  • No in-room DVD players and the only English channels are news ones
  • Cooked options cost extra at breakfast - not much but we felt they should be included, given the price of staying here

Best time to go

Barcelona is at its buzzing best in spring, early summer and autumn, when the days are sunny and the nights balmy. Locals tend to leave the city in droves in August, the hottest month of the year. Avoid December to February if you don’t like the cold - it can get surprisingly chilly in winter.

Our top tips

  • Be sure to take a card with the hotel's address on it when you go out and about. Our taxi driver really struggled to find it
  • Families will enjoy Tibidabo Park, a 100-year-old amusement park with rides, street theatre and great views over the city
  • Great for...

    City Style
    Family
    Honeymoon
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 30
    • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Concierge Service
    • Bicycles Available
    Room:

    Rooms

    Primero Primera's rooms are gorgeous; simply styled with a mix of antique and modern furniture. You'll find crisp white linens on big comfortable beds, deep armchairs or sofas piled with cushions, oil paintings, and modern slate-grey bathrooms with rain showers and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, plus deep tubs in the bigger rooms. There are tea- and coffee-making facilities with vintage cups and saucers, free soft-drink minibars, and big plasma TVs (though no DVD players). And best of all, you get black-out blinds and absolute peace; we didn't hear a sound from outside or other rooms, so slept extremely well.

    Our 4th-floor Superior room was beautiful - spacious and flooded with light from its private terrace. There was a biscuit-coloured sofa, a red antique rug on the blond parquet floor, and an enormous wardrobe in a separate private hall area. We visited in November, but the room would come into its own in summer, when you could sit out and have room-service meals.

    The 3rd-floor Standard room we saw felt a little small, but was classily decorated in monochrome shades, and perfect if you just want a base in Barcelona, rather than somewhere to relax during the day. Don't forget there's a lovely lounge and restaurant/café downstairs, too.

    If you want something romantic, go for one of the attic rooms in the eaves, a mix of Standards and Superiors; we loved their wood-beamed ceilings and sense of cosiness (though they don't have masses of natural light). They share an outdoor terrace with red walls and a cactus mural, which feels at odds with the rest of the hotel but is a great space, with chairs and a couple of loungers.

    If you're coming with kids, or just like loads of space, the Junior Suites, Suites and Apartments are also lovely. The former have private terraces, the latter 2 categories have big sofabeds in separate living rooms, plus robes and slippers, and the Apartments also have a microwave.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Central heating
    • Coffee tea making
    • Complimentary soft-drink minibar
    • Cots Available
    • Extra beds
    • Fan
    • Hairdryer
    • Honesty bar
    • Ipod dock
    • Phone
    • Pillow menu
    • Radio
    • Safe box
    • Satellite tv
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet

    Eating

    A big buffet breakfast is laid up in the restaurant/café every morning. We loved the relaxed atmosphere in here, with chilled music, comfy sofas, retro floral wallpaper and beautiful hanging lanterns: it made for a perfectly relaxed start to the day.

    Food-wise, expect bowls of fresh fruit (apricot, mango, melon); platters of tiny Iberian meat sandwiches and various cheeses; little pastries with delicious blackcurrant jam; quince and cheese on cocktail sticks; and various fresh juices. Hot options including scrambled eggs and sausages are available for a small extra cost.

    The restaurant/café remains open all day (until 11pm), and serves simple meals such as smoked salmon with green asparagus and blinis, Iberian meats and cheeses, roast chicken and cake of the day. I tried the zucchini soup which was creamy, but a little bland.

    There are a few good restaurants in the neighbourhood, 5-10 minutes' walk away. Primero Primera recommends A Contraluz, a garden eatery serving Mediterranean and Catalan specialties; Dos Torres, serving seasonal cuisine; and Montesquieu for tapas. If you want to push the boat out, taxi to ABaC, a 2-starred Michelin restaurant 5 minutes away. Alternatively you can head into town; reception will recommend restaurants.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Children meals
    • Coffee tea making
    • Restaurant
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Room service
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Be inspired by the quirky map of Barcelona, sketched onto a wall in the library. It highlights the city's must-sees, as well as some more unusual things that staff recommend, such as local shopping areas

    • Park Güell is close, a Unesco World Heritage Site designed by Antoni Gaudí. There are walkways covered with stone trees, stalactites and geometric shapes, and many of the surfaces are decorated with pieces of pottery or glass to create a mosaic of colour

    • Other unmissable works by Gaudí in town include the modernist Casa Batlló (once a house, now a museum, with an arched roof and an incredible orange, green and blue mosaicked facade), La Sagrada Familia (a still-unfinished Gothic church, funded entirely by public donation to create a true 'church of the people'), and La Pedrera, with its famous carved exterior and chimneyed roof

    • Get tickets to a concert at the Palau de la Música Catalana with its world-class acoustics and performances that range from symphonic and chamber music to jazz and Cançó (Catalan song). Or watch amazing opera at the Gran Teatre del Liceu

    • Art lovers will enjoy the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), which traces the history of sculpture, painting, objets d'art, drawing, engraving and photography from the Romanesque period to the mid-20th century

    • There are excellent independent shops and boutiques in the Sarrià district (a 15-minute walk away, or you can hire bikes from the hotel)

    • Catch the old wooden tram up the hill of Tibidabo (near the hotel) for amazing views over the city

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Cycling
    • Historical sites
    • Museums / galleries
    • Music
    • Opera
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Shopping / markets

    Kids

    Although this feels like a hotel for older couples and friends, families are welcome and baby cots/extra beds are available. Your first child aged 0-12 stays for free; there is a charge for a second child and for 13+ year olds.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Most rooms are very spacious, as the hotel used to be an apart-hotel. Standard rooms can fit a baby cot, Superior rooms and Junior Suites have a sofabed for 1 or can fit a baby cot, and the Suites and Apartments can sleep 4, with children in the lounge area on 2 sofabeds.

    Babysitting:

    On request.

    Children's meals:

    Bottles and food can be warmed in the restaurant/café's kitchen, and the Apartments have a microwave.

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    8/
    Food
    9/
    Service
    9/
    Value
    9/
    Overall

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