Travel - Issue 94 - Magazine | Monocle

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Small but perfectly formed


A temporary lull in new hotel construction in Barcelona has made room for reflection about the city’s tourism model. The sector hasn’t come to a total standstill however; smaller openings with a knack for Catalan design are providing visitors (and city planners) with an alternative to bigger brands. Margot House enjoys a plum location on the corner of Passeig de Gracia and with no signage and just nine rooms, this is a deliberately discreet affair. With a background in interior design and fashion, father and daughter Sergio and Sandra Durany’s first boutique hotel is a seamless combination of creature comforts and Catalonian design.

With 67 rooms, the decisively bigger Casa Bonay has been designed as a meeting point for visitors and residents. Co-owner Inés Miró-Sans worked for the Ace Hotel in New York before returning to Barcelona to realise the project. The beautifully restored 1869 residence has furniture designed by AOO’s Marc Morro and textiles by Teixidors, all perched on original Nolla mosaic floors. Even Marriott has thrown its hat into the ring with the Cotton House Hotel, Autograph Collection, which is inside the former Cotton Producers Guild. With Soho House set to open a 57-room hotel along the esplanade of the Gothic Quarter this September, it seems the recent spate of homely hotels in the Catalonian capital is bedding down nicely.

Killiehuntly Farmhouse

Kingussie, Scotland

There’s a Danish air to proceedings at the 17th-century Killiehuntly Farmhouse and Cottage in Cairngorms National Park. The five stately rooms brim with soft textiles, wood finishes and homely Scandinavian nods. “Our intention is to have a working farm so we can serve our own eggs,” says Danish owner Anne Storm Pedersen. “We are making a greenhouse and a vegetable garden to supply the kitchen too.”

Casa Agostos

Santa Barbara de Nexe, Portugal

Kristoff Van der Vekens commissioned Pedro Domingos Arquitectos to transform a small ruin – just a short drive away from popular Faro in the Algarve – into an attractive holiday rental with three bedrooms.

Van der Vekens wanted to create a refuge surrounded by hundreds of olive trees looking out over the tranquil Portuguese landscape. The low whitewashed building jumps out of the intense green of the scenery, while the 15-metre-long pool almost seems to tumble into the olive grove. Inside, clean lines and cool concrete floors function as perfect counterparts to the bright outdoor terraces and terraces, which themselves are ideal for afternoons spent basking in the summer heat.

The Atlantic

Byron Bay

Sydneysiders Stephen Eakin and Kimberly Amos swapped city living for the bohemian vibes of Byron Bay by purchasing a well-placed weatherboard house in the town’s centre. In the years since they have transformed their homestead into a constellation of 29 home-styled guest rooms, including an Airstream caravan. Surrounded by subtropical gardens and just a short walk from the shoreline, The Atlantic’s laidback feel is cushioned by plenty of communal spaces that make it feel more like a shared beachside home than a hotel. If you’re game for a surf you’ll find a selection of boards is available for guests, or you can just choose to paddle in the more sedate surrounds of the hotel’s pretty pool.

Luciano K Hotel


In a narrow pink building (beloved of art deco fans) in Santiago’s Bellas Artes neighbourhood is the just-opened Luciano K hotel. Named after Chilean architect Luciano Kulczewski, the one-time apartment building from 1928 has kept much of its original charm. Think milky-hued mosaic floors in the lobby and multi-level rooftop terrace, with spiral staircases and views over nearby Parque Forestal.

Inside are 38 rooms that conserve Kulczewski’s predilection for angles and include two sizeable suites with park views and large windows. The project comes courtesy of the talented souls behind the Lastarria Hotel and was the tallest building in Chile when it was built.

L’Horizon Hotel and Spa

Palm Springs

Set against the backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains and a few lofty palm trees shimmering in the breeze, L’Horizon Hotel and Spa in Palm Springs reopened in 2015 after a full and fine renovation by designer Steve Hermann. Originally designed in 1952 by William F Cody, the mid-century jaw-dropper offers 25 modernist bungalows, each with exposed wooden beams that are offset by plush seating covered in graphic fabrics.

The spa features four treatment rooms, a serene outdoor space and a juice bar. Chef Chris Anderson oversees the kitchen, where his Mediterranean-inspired dishes are served alfresco under spectacular Lindsey Adelman chandeliers.

The Culpeper


The charming Victorian-era Princess Alice boozer near Spitalfields Market was reopened in 2014. Downstairs is a bar, the first floor hosts a restaurant with a seasonal menu and now five rooms will be available for stopovers. The spaces were decked out by curtain firm the Hackney Draper with beds from Hypnos. Breakfast is also a draw, particularly the house-cured smoked salmon and bowls of homemade granola.

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