TRADING PLACESStyle is the prime commodity at Barcelona's former cotton merchant headquarters...
One of the by-products of the industrial revolution and the rise of international trade was a proliferation of merchants’ organisations — groups formed by wealthy businessmen dealing in a particular commodity for the purpose of getting even more wealthy by one way or another. Being run by rich types, these associations generally had splendid headquarters, and although most of the organisations are now defunct, the buildings they built are still going strong.

They built things to last in the 19th Century, as Marriott International recognised when it resurrected Barcelona’s Association of Cotton Manufacturers headquarters as part of the hotel group’s indie-spirited Autograph Collection. Although the foundations of Hotel Cotton House were laid in the late 1800s when the building was constructed on Gran Via, renowned designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán has been called upon to give the interior a new lease of life. This place is not a Marriott colossus — the lift tops out at the sixth floor where guests will find a rooftop swimming pool — but what it lacks in scale it more than makes up for with a sheer abundance of style, and no small measure of grandeur. The lobby’s wall of mirrors is an attractive start, leading to a main octagonal hall flanked by two impressive staircases; one can imagine ball-gowned beauties making quite the entrance here. Ornate ceilings with antique carving are married with contemporary light features with great success — in fact the Cotton House Hotel does an excellent job of this old/new combination throughout, with the overall effect being one of classical elegance.