On the outside, the Neri Hotel is a weathered 18th-century palace, deep in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, overlooking St. Felip Neri Square, right alongside the cathedral. This is the historic district, dating back to Roman times, so the rakish modern architecture on display elsewhere in Barcelona is nowhere to be found. But fears of sleeping in some drafty dungeon are allayed the moment you catch a glimpse of the striking modern interiors.
In any old stone building, light is at a premium; all the more so in this densely built district, with its narrow streets and alleys. Thus the decor seeks to brighten and expand the space, and in fact the smaller rooms compensate with lighter, more neutral color schemes, in a palette of light greys, greens, pinks and lavenders. Clean and crisp design frees up space as well — these rooms are mercifully free from ornate reproduction antique furnishings, outfitted instead with built-in desks and bedside tables.
Technically the name of this place is Neri Hotel & Restaurante; clearly they are proud of the food, and for good reason. Spanish cooking is at the height of fashion at the moment, known for its inventiveness. Here they have gone a bit the other way, taking the traditional Mediterranean menu and adding a touch of the medieval — though it may take a culinary archaeologist to know exactly what that means.
Sant Sever, 5, Barcelona