We love when cool creative people team up to showcase their projects! So we're happy to announce that Boutique-Homes.com has partnered with DestinationBCN to present a series of 13 stylish and affordable apartments in the heart of Barcelona, definitely one of the coolest cities in Europe and a must-go for anyone traveling to Spain in the near future.
DestinationBCN started as a side project 12 years ago by Anne Nijstad and Miklos Beyer, a designer and art curator respectively. After being hired to redecorate a friend's apartment for short-term rental, the pair realized that there was a market for travelers who were actively seeking stylish properties in Barcelona. Thus, DestinationBCN was formed. They are now the proprietors of 13 apartment rentals that have won acclaim from Mocoloco, Design Milk, LA Times and The New York Times, among others, for their sophistication and attention to detail.
We spoke with DestinationBCN founder Anne to find out a little bit more about the project's background and what a perfect day in Barcelona is like. Charleen Parkes of DestinationBCN also contributed a list of great list of spots and sites that are not to be missed.
Can you tell us a little bit about how DestinationBCN started?
About 12 years ago, we started the business, not with the idea of starting a business at all, by buying and decorating a small apartment in the old center of Barcelona, just as a nice side project.
What was the market like for rentals at the time?
There were hardly any nice short term rentals then. It was still very much an amateurs market and what was on offer were mainly apartments with granny furniture, so what we did was quite fresh. Friends of ours offered us their apartment for a restyle to be able to offer it for short term rental when they were away. Nowadays we don't do the friend's houses anymore. The apartments we offer are created and designed for a short term living experience for visitors of Barcelona.
We love that your apartments are suitable for travelers of all kinds: business, families, friends, solo travelers. Who would you say is the typical DestinationBCN guest?
Travelers looking for the different experience that staying in an apartment offers, like being able to go to la Boqueria (fresh food market) to buy local goodies and make a nice meal at 'home.' Slow travelers who like to spend time at their temporarily 'home' as much as exploring the city. People who like the feel of living in Barcelona rather than being a tourist.
Do you have a personal favorite of the apartments?
I guess the latest project is always favorite, which is now Triple Terrace Penthouse. It is a penthouse apartment that we created last year almost from scratch. All there was was a little rooftop house with hardly any windows that hadn't been refurbished since it was built in the beginning of the last century. Now it is a light and bright open space with large panoramic windows opening up to Barcelona's cityscape and multiple terraces.
What is your idea of a perfect day in Barcelona?
The views on the almost always clear blue Barcelona skies encourage you to start the day early. Having a quick coffee in a bar on the way to work and another one at work. Work is usually hectic and never the same and requires a lot of flexibility. Lunch is the main meal of the day so we try to take the time for that to enjoy it in one of the several good restaurants located close by our office. After work is time for a stroll through the city, meeting with friends for a drink, in summer often in one of the beach bars of Barceloneta.
DestinationBCN's List of Local Hotspots
Food: Dos Palillos is a restaurant with a tasting menu inspired by Japanese and Asian cuisine, which is quite an gastronomic experience. Tickets (run by El Bulli owner Ferran Adrià) is a cool tapas bar. Bar Lobo is a good lunch spot, and Llamber Taberna Gastronomica is recommended if you're in the Born neighborhood. For wine, Monvinic is incredible. On Barceloneta beach, cool lunch spots include favorites such as El Gallito and Pez Vela
Coffee: Satan's Coffee Corner in the up and coming Raval neighborhood where the owner personally selects the beans and takes them to be roasted. It's take away only. Caravelle in Raval is good for chai tea lattes, and although relatively new it is well-known among the locals. If you’re lucky you might even get a love heart in your foamy cup of heaven.
Markets: The apartments are near to two local markets, La Boqueria and Sant Antoni. Both are great for picking up fresh ingredients for preparing meals when you don't feel like going out, or just to explore.
Nightclubs and Bars: For dancing, Razzmatazz has several floors with different kinds of music
and cool gigs. In the summertime, there are tons of hotel rooftop bars. We reccommend Hotel Omm on the Paseig de Gracia (right by la Pedrera) for great views, Duquesa de Cardona in the Gothic Quarter for atmosphere, and the Majestic Hotel for luxury!
Museums: Barcelona is a great place for art lovers. Visit the Miro Museum and Picasso Museums to see collections by these most famous of Spanish artists. For modern art, check out Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona and the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona.
Sites: For architecture lovers, Barcelona is a great place to explore. Antoni Gaudi's La Pedrera is a beautiful building that houses a cultural center. Park Güell is an amazing garden complex in the Gracia district that was originally meant as a housing development, also developed by Antoni Gaudi. Casa Batlló is another Gaudi building in the Eixample District, near to the DestinationBCN apartments.
For those that want to go on excursions, Barcelona has a mecca of things to do out of the city. From exploring the stunning blue sea of Costa Brava and visiting villages such as Sant Pol del Mar, Tamariu Llafranc, Begur, Pals, Cadaques, to taking the cable car to mountain Montserrat and visiting Sitges, you have a variety of things to do and explore if you want a mini getaway.
For historians: Castell de Montjuic is a historic old military fortress on Montjuic Mountain, and the entire Gothic Quarter is full of history. Of course, all visitors to Barcelona should take a stroll down Las Ramblas–Barcelona's "main drag"–which is lined with trees, shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. It is also hard not to mention Liceu, the majestic opera house perched on Las Ramblas, which opened in 1847.
Upcoming Events: Primavera Sound is a huge music festival that takes place every summer at several venues in the city. The line-up for 2013 is incredible, so you should book now before all the rooms fill up!