Cotton House Hotel, Barcelona - review-
I’m standing at the top of a six-storey spiral staircase which is suspended from the ceiling by industrial-looking metal rods. My head spins as I stare down the shaft, blinking rapidly at the tiny square of floor below. Somewhere to my right, Alfredo, the general manager of the hotel, is telling me the staircase is the only one of its kind in Europe. The structure — though perfectly stable to walk on — actually hangs in the air, held only by thick, steel cable. It’s remarkable, not to mention stunningly beautiful. I just wish I didn’t feel so queasy.

Housing this extraordinary flight of steps is the Cotton House Hotel in Barcelona, the latest addition to Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The building, an imposing, 19th-century Neoclassical creation, was the headquarters of the Cotton Producers Guild at a time when Barcelona’s textile industry was thriving. Hotshot Spanish designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán, who took on the restoration project in 2013, has taken care to preserve intrinsic elements of the building’s former life.

The entrance hall, which is large and airy with an intricately panelled ceiling and geometric floor, is where tradesmen used to park their horses and carts while they unloaded their wares. Alfredo tells me tailors used to stay at Cotton HQ, measuring and fitting Barcelona’s elite.

This neat tradition has been adapted for the modern day, with the cosy snug next door to the hotel’s small library providing a quiet spot for well-heeled hotel guests to be measured and dressed by some of Barcelona’s top tailors. The suits, once crafted, are forwarded on to home addresses.

Unsurprisingly, cotton is king here. Fluffy cotton flowers are dotted throughout the building, while in the restaurant, Batuar, fabric is proudly displayed on the walls. The bedrooms are all named after different types of cotton, from Panama to Madras, and the hotel’s specially designed scent is apparently identical to that of the sweet-smelling plant.

I stayed in Egyptian. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was that someone had been scribbling on my mirrors. “You look gorgeous!” was emblazoned across the top of one, and on another: “Have a lovely stay Ms Hamilton!”

Of course, they’re on everyone’s mirrors, but I’m a sucker for a personal touch and can’t help but smile. The king-size bed, with its gloriously soft, cotton sheets, didn’t disappoint — although considering the hotel’s theme it would be bad form if it did.

There was a slightly awkward sofa taking up space in the room’s “living area”, as well as an enormous TV that I found impossible to figure out. A rather cute touch, however, was the dainty cotton flower nestled in a plant pot on my bedside table. This hotel is nothing if not consistent.

There was also a little balcony in my room, complete with  blue shutters and a wicker chair to recline in. Although there’s no view to speak of — only of a traditional Catalonian courtyard — had the weather been nicer it would have been easy to while away an evening people-watching from above.

In fact, had the cloud broken, I’d likely have spent the weekend lounging by the hotel’s small rooftop pool. Or possibly on the garden terrace, supping a gin cocktail made by one of the hotel’s expert baristas.

Of course, you’re never going to be short of things to do in Barcelona, from the culture to the coast to the mountains beyond. If the weather is kind, the hotel can organise boat trips or helicopter tours. If it’s too windy, however, there’s plenty of fun to be had on land.

I highly recommend eating your way around the city. The hotel is a few minutes walk from La Rambla, home to the La Boqueria Market where you can guzzle everything from olives to oysters. Opposite the main entrance to the market is the mysterious Jamón Experience, a rather theatrical venue where a specialist jamón carver slices up different types of meat for you sample. It’s all washed down with a pallet-cleansing glass of cava. Delicious.