The Wittmore Breaks New Ground in Barcelona
Times are changing, and we're moving away from a time when hotels were boring and the hotel restaurants were for tourists only. Think of New York and London! For years already many hotels have managed to find their cool, and made it a place for locals to hang out, and the hotel guests are merely occasional tourists in this setting.
Last time we were in New York we visited a hotel called The McKittrick hotel. It wasn't the hotel itself that attracted us, but everything else it has to offer. They have an amazing rooftop terrace called The Gallow Green, that looks and feels like a jungle, but with New York skyscraper views. There was a bit of a queue to get there, but once inside we were taken up with what looked like an old freight elevator, and up we came. There is also a restaurant called The Heath attached to the rooftop terrace, where a 20s style jazz band was playing and it was all very speakeasy. Did I love it? YES! Did I think something like that could ever come to Barcelona? Most certainly not. But I was so wrong.
I stumbled upon the Instagram account for The Wittmore already some time ago, and I had a feeling that this was something else. A new cool hotel was being built, and it didn't look like anything I had seen in Barcelona before. When I then received an invitation to visit it when it opened I was over the moon. This was something completely different, and I couldn't wait to find out more about it.
When I looked up the address I saw that it was in the middle of the Gótico, in one of the darkest alleys. I wondered how on earth a hotel could fit in that little alleyway? When we arrived there was no sign, nothing, just a doorman standing in the end of the street. Very interesting. And very promising.
Once we entered the lobby that New York feeling came all over me again. A dark, mysterious entrance, thick red curtains, a big portrait of Sir Wittmore himself and mood lighting. We were taken up to see the one of the 22 rooms (again, New York vibes with bathrooms with subway tiles and stylish toiletries) and the rooftop terrace. I fell in love with the terrace, because it’s not your typical flashy rooftop terrace with views over the sea or whatever. From here you can see real Barcelona life. Terraces, apartment building roofs, a kind of view that you get from any ático around the city. And there's a pool, too.
Let’s get to the interesting bit though, The Witty. That’s the restaurant that hides between thick red curtains in the lobby. It oozes of mystery and charm. There is a gallery/conservatory in the middle with a vertical garden and a few tables if you prefer to dine outside. Inside there is an entire wall covered with books, and a fireplace. The tables are low and the chairs comfortable. The tableware is old school and mismatched and adds to the charm.
In the cocktail bar we find Patxi Paniagua, a renowned cocktail expert who serves the most amazing, elaborated drinks in a 50s style setting. If you like the speakeasy Paradiso then this is the place for you. Well crafted cocktails like these are difficult to come across in Barcelona. We had a passion fruit cocktail and it was among the best I’ve had in a long time.
So what did we eat? In the hands of chef Albert Ventura we knew we were well taken care of. He has been the head chef at Coure in Barcelona and now he’s landed at the Witty. Star critic Mikel Iturriaga from El Comidista stated that he’s one of his favourite chefs ever, and I’m not surprised.
This time I will make an exception and not publish photos. I wouldn't be able to make the food justice and I want you to go and try it for yourself! But this is what we devoured:
Burrata salad with fennel, tomato confit and basil
Ensaladilla rusa with white tuna belly
Brioche cake with different kinds of tortilla, mayonnaise and tomato sauté
Roast beef with a mustard and mayonnaise sauce
Wild salmon marinated in coffee served with blinis
Apple salad with celery, yogurt, nuts, root celery and greens
Ceviche with lime, coriander and avocado
Cheesecake with sorbet and forest fruit
Everything was perfect, but my absolute favourite was the tortilla-filled brioche. What a fantastic idea!
I will most certainly go back. The idea of the hotel is that it will be a place for locals to hang out, and that’s just what the doctor ordered for our city. Casa Bonay is somewhat similar with its bar Libertine and restaurant Elephant, Crocodile, Monkey. We’re so over tacky hotel bars and empty hotel restaurants. The restaurant is not expensive, so go and check it out and enjoy the cool atmosphere!
All photos courtesy of The Wittmore.