Relais & Chateaux is a collection of nearly 600 luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants around the world, offering distinct accommodations, superior cuisine and top-notch service. As former Relais & Chateaux President Philippe Gombert once described, these collective properties “stand for excellence, for food, for experience and for culture.” And, after having the great pleasure of staying in three of the R&C properties in Europe, I can attest that this aspiration is not taken lightly.
A few years back, my husband and I stayed in two R&C properties in France – The Saint James in the heart of Paris and the Royal Champagne in the Champagne region, just north of Paris. Both were unique and incredible properties and the stays left us huge fans of Relais & Chateaux.
Finding Hotel Neri – A Relais & Chateaux Property in Barcelona
Fast forward several years to this January when my husband and I took our two teens to Barcelona where we had another amazing R&C experience, this time staying at the Hotel Neri. Although I had reached out to the French R&C properties in advance explaining how I may write about their hotel in my blog, I did not reach out to Hotel Neri in advance nor did I ever reveal my travel blog.
The following thoughts and observations on Hotel Neri are entirely my own and I received no incentive for the many great things I have to say about the property and staff.
My husband and even our teens, are well-traveled and are very accustomed to staying in high-end resorts and hotels, no matter where we go. When we began searching for hotels in Barcelona, we had several criteria in mind – we wanted a luxury property, but one with history, character and allure, as opposed to a traditional, uber-modern business hotel. We also wanted a property in a centralized location, near historic sites and within walking distance of plenty of restaurants.
As part of the Relais & Chateaux luxury brand, Hotel Neri popped up in our search almost immediately! After giving the hotel’s website and reviews a thorough read, we knew we wouldn’t be able to find anything that fit our criteria better than this. So, we booked a “family suite” which is essentially two rooms, adjoined by a private breezeway.
Six Reasons to Stay at Hotel Neri in Barcelona
Pre-Communication – From the time we booked our rooms, Hotel Neri seemed to go out of its way to establish an early connection with us. The staff reached out to confirm our reservation, to inquire if we needed a car to pick us up from the airport (which we did) and sent us many recommendations of restaurants in the area. Although this pre-communication is not unheard of in the luxury hotel space, the emails were personal, not auto-generated, which was a wonderful touch.
First-Impressions – After a nearly 9-hour flight, we arrived to our hotel via the private driver we arranged through the hotel. Given the hotel is located on a very narrow street, most cars are not able to pull up directly in front of the hotel. Instead, our driver drove us to the closest “square” where we were met with a hotel associate who brought a trolley for our bags and walked us the rest of the way to our hotel. When we arrived to Hotel Neri, I was surprised at how hidden it was, down a maze of cobblestone streets with just a small, unassuming sign over the doorway indicating that we had arrived. Upon checking in, we were greeted by one of the friendliest hotel staff that I had met (so sorry I did not capture his name!). He offered my husband and I, as well as our teens, a welcome drink. My husband received a tall glass of sparkling Cava…and for me… who am I to turn down a cappuccino after a 9-hour sleepless flight! The hotel front desk staff also doubled as the hotel concierge, all of who were super helpful when we were planning the best routes for our adventures, finding the best running path, or snagging last-minute dining reservations.
Historical Location – Hotel Neri is situated in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, adjacent to the Placa de Sant Felipe Neri, a small plaza surrounded by a school and other historical buildings. The Hotel itself is a converted 12th century palace/mansion that still features many of the classic characteristics from that era, such as stone walls and archways. Not only is the Gothic Quarter historical (many historians say that it was where the Romans built their first settlement), but it’s also beautiful! It’s full of small narrow, winding cobblestone or brick streets/walkways that are lined with cozy shops, cafes, residences, and boutique hotels….all that unexpectedly open up to hidden plazas featuring more cafes and shops. Hotel Neri is also centrally located and very close to many top attractions. It is just around the corner from the Barcelona Cathedral (we could hear the bells from our room), and a 5-10 minute walk to Placa de Sant Jaume, the churches of Santa Maria Del Mar and Santa Maria Del Pi (featured in the Tom Holland adventure film “Uncharted”), the waterfront and the famous Las Ramblas. And, all other notable sites could be easily accessed via the metro, which was a 5 minute walk from the Hotel. As an added bonus, the Hotel was just a 5 minute ramble to Calle Petritxol, a pedestrian street showcasing multiple chocolate and churro shops, including one of the most famous La Granja Dulcinea.
Large, Comfortable Rooms – Although the Hotel still holds a visual resemblance to a Medieval Palace, the rooms have clearly been updated to include all of the latest hotel amenities. The connecting rooms we had were spacious, clean and had unobstructed views of the quaint courtyard below. Each room had a comfortable queen bed, desk, 1-2 lounge chairs, Nespresso maker for tea and coffee, U.S. outlets and USB ports. The bathrooms were also very large and quite modern, even spa-like, with waterfall showers, over-sized and very soft white bath towels, a heated towel rack, beautiful mirrors and Molton Brown bath products.
Breakfast – Our rooms included a full Neri breakfast each day, and because I’m not a huge fan of traditional Spanish food, breakfast ended up being my largest and most enjoyable meal each day. Served in the popular “A” Restaurant, the Neri breakfast included a tray full of continental delights, like fruit, assorted breads and pastries, jams, and some of the best orange juice I’ve ever had! In addition to the continental portion, we also had the option to choose up to two other items from their menu, including assorted meats, lox, avocado toast, eggs, and yogurt. And to top it all off, you could enjoy all of this while sipping a lovely cup of espresso, cappuccino, tea or hot chocolate, which we did…every day!!
The Little Things – I’ve written in previous posts about how important the little things are when staying in a hotel. These little amenities and extra special touches can make all the difference and have the ability to turn a “nice” hotel stay into the most memorable. Hotel Neri was on par with many other luxury hotels I’ve visited around the world, including several Ritz Carltons, Four Seasons, and Fairmonts, that are known for providing small extras that surprise and delight their guests. From the fluffy, cozy throw blanket on the bed (which came in very handy when we left our heat off for the day), to the delicious clementines placed in our room upon check-in, to the turn down-service with chocolate, and our classy, glass water pitcher/bottle that was refilled twice daily….each touch made us feel like this was our home away from home. We were especially delighted to return to our room on the eve of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) to find a tray of holiday pastries to celebrate the holiday. Well done indeed!
As you can see, I can’t say enough great things about Hotel Neri. Although our next trip to Barcelona may not be for several years, I would absolutely stay at Hotel Neri in the future – or any Relais & Chateaux property – and highly recommended you do the same.
Stay tuned to hear more about my recent trip to Barcelona!