The Paris issue

Our October issue is on sale - the Paris special. Grab your copy for all-things Parisian, plus ultimate French baking recipes and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before October 24, 2016 and receive 3 BONUS ISSUES - save 46%.

Gourmet on your iPad

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad.

Style icon: Murmuri, Barcelona

Medieval and modern merge at Murmuri Barcelona, the new design-driven boutique hotel that’s in sync with Spain’s coolest city. And it’s got more than just a murmur of style.

It's never been hard to find grandeur on the Spanish hospitality scene - baroque palaces, ornate castles, fortresses and monasteries. But Barcelona, the coolest city in Spain, is now home to some of the coolest hotels. Grand Hotel Central in the Gothic quarter and Hotel Omm on Paseo de Gracia rode a new wave, and now they're joined by Murmuri Barcelona on Rambla de Catalunya. In a city that celebrates medieval architecture and modernist art, Murmuri Barcelona pulls off the trick of seamlessly inserting up-to-the-minute design into a beautiful 19th-century building.

Behind the elegant period frontage with arched portal, British designer Kelly Hoppen has created a simple but opulent environment that is less stylised than Starck; more architectural than Armani.

Murmuri director and manager Edouard Alexandre says both the style and attitude of the hotel reflect the fact that Barcelona today is a vibrant, hip city. "Old and big used to be beautiful," he says," but today's savvy traveller is looking for small and stylish. Aesthetically, Murmuri satisfies the human desire for a unique identity and an upmarket image."

The name Murmuri, says Alexandre, refers to the fact that the hotel is a meeting point in the busy Rambla de Catalunya pedestrian mall, where people can enjoy the murmur of the city's heartbeat. Opened only this year, it is also creating a few murmurs among the style-bible set.

The hotel offers 53 rooms and five apartments with one or two bedrooms. Facilities include a business centre, meeting room, WiFi internet access, rooftop terrace, solarium and limousine service. Both its Murmuri Restaurant and Marfil Bar immediately established themselves as see-and-be-seen locations and are constantly glam-packed.

There's something very Zen-like about Hoppen's design approach. But, at Murmuri, she softens her familiar straight lines and symmetrical layouts with round feminine shapes. Hoppen says there's a yin-and-yang unity in this use of straight and round lines. It contributes to the harmony of the design, she says, which has a calming effect on the interiors. The unity of opposites is also apparent in the colours and textures she employs - splashes and stripes of colour against gentle, natural tones; grainy dark wood furniture with soft, velvety fabrics. Fashion, design, art and architecture all come together, allowing sleek and modern to also say comfort and opulence. This statement is aptly expressed when entering the hotel's reception area by a seductive Hoppen-designed sofa that seems to coo: 'Why don't you come over here and sit with me?'

Murmuri doesn't try to use the old design-hotel deception that no television is an aesthetic imperative. Amenities include flat-screen televisions with satellite channels, MP3 docking stations, in-room safes and mini-bars. Bathrooms have Molton Brown products, hairdryers, bathrobes and slippers, and are luxurious without straying into that unfortunate realm of being so sexy the bedroom becomes an afterthought. All rooms are effectively sound-proofed, have individual climate control and offer views of either the city or the inner courtyard, which also maximises natural light.

The strong design sense of East meets West is especially relevant in the ground-floor Restaurant Murmuri, which presents a thoughtful fusion of Mediterranean produce and Asian techniques and flavours. The menu is the inspiration of acclaimed Thai chef Ian Chalermkittichai who also operates the Kittichai restaurant in Manhattan. Think Vietnamese-style crisp whole fish served with pickled daikon and chilli dipping sauce; rock shrimp tempura with Japanese eggplant and a soy-tamarind sauce; and black sesame crème brûlée with soy milk and sesame ice-cream.

Restaurant Murmuri overlooks Rambla de Catalunya and the rather gynaecologically named Passage de la Concepción… but don't let that put you off your coconut-cream chantilly. On the other side of the lobby, Marfil Bar and Terrace has established itself as one of the liveliest drinking holes in Barcelona. It has a great bar menu based around sushi and Asian-influenced tapas. The murmur here is more of a buzz.

Murmuri Barcelona's location on Rambla de Catalunya is a definite plus. It is surrounded by much of the city's modernist art and architecture, plus chic retail, dining, bars and open spaces. It also enjoys convenient access to major underground and bus services. Murmuri is a sister property to the grand luxe Hotel Majestic located just a five-minute walk away on Paseo de Gracia, and Murmuri guests receive a pass that allows access to all Hotel Majestic services and amenities including a gym and rooftop pool.

Murmuri Barcelona, Rambla de Catalunya, 104, Barcelona, +34 93 550 0600,

Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
things to do this autumn

Whether it's foraging for wild mushrooms in a picturesque Victorian forest or watching a film by moonlight in Darwin, we've got you covered with 20 exciting autumn experiences from around Australia.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Best of Italy

Rome, Florence, Naples, the Amalfi... the list of our favour...

Best New Hotels 2009 slideshow

We’ve got the keys to the most fabulous new hotels in the wo...

Burgundy, France: Top soil

“Water can rust iron. Imagine what it does to your insides. ...

Bali's new high

It’s no secret that recent times have been tough for Austral...

New South Wales South Coast

Unsung hero Flashier holiday spots may steal the limelight, ...

Gourmet Barcelona

From the city's best sandwich bar to its favourite charcuter...

Greece's Mani peninsula

Greece’s rugged and bloody Mani peninsula was once a no-go z...

Venice in pictures

Read our story on what to do if you only have 24 hours in Ve...

Great Brittany gallery

Take a walk on the wild side. Follow Brittany’s windswept co...

South African safari lodges gallery

Travelling from the Great Karoo to the Kruger, Emma Ventura ...

Iceland photo gallery

Erase the images of that volcano with the unpronounceable na...

Happy holidays

They’re following the sun and chasing the snow, staying clos...

Kyneton and Castlemaine

Kyneton and Castlemaine were born out of the gold-rush era, ...

Insider's guide to Manly

Breath of fresh air The classic Sydney beachside neighbourho...

The best of New Zealand

Choosing from the bounty of New Zealand's holiday destinati...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.