Friday, December 1, 2017

Derby Hotel's Claris answers the question: 'What makes a great hotel?'

Elegance and style greet the eye at every turn, and antiques meet the latest in technology, at Barcelona's Claris Hotel.
Here's the spectacular view from the elevator as one whisks to one's room above an artful interior courtyard.
Below, right, Antoni Gaudi's famed Casa Battlo is within easy walking distance from the Claris.



That seemingly simple recipe for success is what puts Barcelona's lovely Claris Hotel in a league of its own.
The Claris is one of four uniquely appointed, art driven properties owned by Derby Hotels, a small and superbly run group of hotels in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris and London.
Each hotel contains a fortune in art, not surprisingly, for the owner is an art scholar, owner of one of Europe's most exclusive private art collections.
WE DISCOVERED these elegant hotels through fellow museum buffs, also travel writers. Their blend of old-world service, antiques, artwork, Catalan spirit and contemporary amenities is to be savored. 
Beautifully displayed and carefully lit
sculpture catch the eye at every turn at Claris.
 The source of our enthusiasm is a man named Jordi Clos.  As chairman and founder of Derby Hotels Collection, he displays an eye for beauty and class, sharing it with the hotels' fortunate clientele. The savvy Catalan businessman and his son are experts at knowing what makes a hotel unique.  First, give the well traveled visitor something special. Cultivate an atmosphere of personalized service. Make every guest feel welcome.   Create an aura that says "unique." The Claris does all this and more.
WE WERE offered cava or fresh-squeezed juice as we waited briefly for our room, a treat because we'd arrived several hours before check-in, following a Greek Isles cruise.  (A lesser hotel would have stored our bags and asked us to return later. Instead, we had our room in minutes.)  
Hotelier Clos is a renowned Egyptologist, collector and sponsor of art. 
Jordi Clos is a well known aficionado who shares his
 personal collection with clients in four stunning properties.
So for

 our week-long Claris stay, we were surrounded by world-class sculpture and paintings in the restaurants and public areas.  Retreating to our room, we relaxed amid gorgeous tapestry, antique mirrors, pre-Columbian sculpture and a headboard above the bed in
Elegance, artwork and superb service greet the Claris guest.
 the shape of a crown.  Perfect for this Leo -- fit for a queen. We marveled at the designers' sense of style, color and fabric, the weaving of a sense of beauty. 
WE'D BEEN TO  Barcelona many times, but wanted to revisit the famed Gaudi buildings and his Sagrada Familia, and we enjoyed strolling the hotel's distinctive neighborhood, the famed L'Eixample District. --
Breakfast pastry bar at the Claris:
croissants, rich grain breads made that
morning, beautiful sweets, even a
gluten-free section.

Sunset atop the Claris is a time for unwinding, enjoying a
cocktail, admiring stately boulevards and busy life below.

Clos also chairs the Clos Archaeological Foundation, which owns the Egyptian Museum of Barcelona, down the street from the Claris. This  collection -- open to the public -- exhibits the family's devotion to Egypt's culture.  (Clos has funded archaeological digs for a quarter century.) 
EACH OF the four Clos properties is well located.  In Barcelona, the Claris is the grand dame of the city's famed L'Eixample district, with its celebrated dining scene, high-end boutiques and diverse nightlife. 
Our suite featured a beautiful tapestry, sculpture, antiques
and modern amenities: flat-screen TV and espresso maker.

The Clos passion for art and culture  inspired
The Claris breakfast buffet befits
the hotel's sense of style and variety.
Above, Jimmy helps Keller plan.
his unique collection of hotels,  exhibiting  classical  artistic taste. Each hotel -- like the city it inhabits -- has its own personality.
 L'Eixample's Modernista architecture complements the Claris, blending the stately and modern and near  the famed Pedrera and Casa Battlo.
We pledged to return as we said a reluctant goodbye to Jimmy and Alvin in the breakfast restaurant. We'd miss the art, roses, Mediterranean cuisine, glorious spa, impeccable service -- the Claris class.

At Mas La Boella, a beautiful sense of serenity envelopes
the guest, in a retreat of olive trees, gardens and tranquility.
UP NEXT: While we're in Spain, come discover another treasured property, tucked away in the hills of Tarragona, southwest of Barcelona.  Mas La Boella is a small, distinguished property built around an olive plantation and  still working olive packaging plant. We admired beautifully integrated antiques, dined amid the trees and gardens and learned a lot about olive oil, as you will, too. Meanwhile, enjoy learn and live and visit us Fridays when we post for each weekend, a fresh slant on nature, the arts, family and travel.


  1. New Hampshire FrancophilesDecember 2, 2017 at 9:37 AM

    We have enjoyed the Derby's grand Paris property. You entice us to return to Barcelona. Love this collector. Can we clone him?

  2. New friends from ItalyDecember 2, 2017 at 9:39 AM

    Ah, lovely. Wish we could have spent time there with you. Great traveling the Mediterranean with you two savvy explorers.

  3. How delightful to read your appreciation, and beautiful photographs,of this wonderful property. The two restaurants are favorites of Catalan residents of the neighborhood for all the reasons you so eloquently express. Gracias.