I love hotels. I breathe hotels. My tagline “passion for hotels” is not a lie. I get excited with new hotel openings. But you know what I love even more? A hotel revamp. I love these big, brash hotels from the 1960s and 1970s. Once considered as modern marvels, now often looked upon as ugly ducklings.
Spain had its heyday with lots of these brashy hotels – tourism boomed and many a town got its own “Gran Hotel” -new style. Barcelona was maybe not the tourist magnet it is today, but has always been Spain’s number 1 city for commerce, even more so than Madrid – which was more a gouvernement thing. In 1975 Barcelona got its Princesa Sofia Hotel. The hotel was named after Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark, wife of Juan Carlos I, who accessed the Spanish throne that same year.
The Princesa Sofia Hotel was for some years Barcelona’s InterContinental Hotel and for some years the Gran Hotel Princesa Sofia. Now, after a major revamp it is called just “Sofia” or to use the proper Spanish spelling “Sofía”. After all she is not a princess anymore, but a queen. Or it is political, this being Catalonia they are not that much into the Spanish royal family or it is her conservative statements. Or not all and it is just a better name to pun on – like the hotel’s new “Philosophia” café-bakery. Or actually that is the pun. Sofia joined the Unbound Collection by Hyatt Hotels.
The new Sofia is designed by Jaime Beriestain, a name familiar to many hotels on the DNA Hotels pages. Chilean-born and Barcelona resident Beriestain designed The One hotel in Barcelona, Room Mate Gerard in Barcelona, Vincci Mae and Vincci Bit in Barcelona, Vincci The Mint in Madrid and his first hotel revamp (2001): Hilton Diagonal Barcelona. Beriestain is also the “house designer” of the new Austrian upscale chain Almanac, which first property opened last year in Barcelona and with a Vienna outpost coming up in 2019.
December 2017 saw the finish of the much needed overhaul of the 1987 Jardin Tropical Hotel on the island of Tenerife to complement its Arabian-influenced architecture and spectacular gardens. 2018 will see the openings of The One Lisbon, and the Hotel Paseo de Gracia Barcelona.
The Sofia’s parent company, the Selenta Group also owns the Gran Hotel Catalunya (1970) which they are transforming into the Nobu Hotel Barcelona with the famous restaurant chain opening on top of the hotel 23rd floor. Now hope they will let Beriestain revamp another iconic asset of them, the Hotel Don Carlos in Marbella, also in need of a major overhaul. Fingers crossed…