Brand & Communications Consultant, Jacqueline Perrett with partner Kelvin Ho, a leading interior designer and founder of Akin Atelier, shares a discerning guide on design icons in Barcelona, Cretas and Deia.
Describe Barcelona in five words
Alive, inspired, contemporary, eccentric, quaint.
List your architectural and design hit-list in Spain for creative and curious minds.
Our time in Barcelona was limited, so we took our hotel bikes around the city to take in as much as we possibly could. The obvious tourist spots are completely worth visiting – and Gaudi’s architecture should be at the top of your list. La Sagrada Familia is utterly breathtaking – despite still being under construction – and Casa Batlló’s skeletal qualities are mind-blowing. At the time, Gaudi’s design broke all bylaws of the city. Only 2 years after Casa Battló was finished, it received an award from the city as one of Barcelona’s best new buildings. It’s amazing how his architecture shapes the mood of the city.
On the outskirts of Barcelona, we visited the office & home of architect Ricardo Bofill. In the same suburb is the incredible home of late sculptor Xavier Corbero. The grounds are closed to the public since his death late last year, but plans are to convert the home into a hotel – so watch this space. Worth a look over the walls, for sure!
2 ½ hours south west of Barcelona is La Franja – a strip of land to the west of the Catalan border. Here you will find the incredible Solo House project – a French gallerist has given 10 architects carte blanche to design holiday houses which sit on the same plot of land, but completely separate from one another – hence, ‘solo house’. We spent a few nights at Solo Office. Solo Office is an off-the-grid circular home with a huge internal garden & arc pool. The walls of the three rooms slide open to reveal sweeping views of the valley. We were lucky to also have access to Solo Pezo thanks to friends we were travelling with. Solo Pezo a concrete monolith – almost brutalist upon appearance. Solo Pezo is nestled into a hill overlooking the neighbouring medieval village of Cretas.
Mallorca; Can Lis – the home of Jorn Utzon. The home is mostly used as a residence for visiting architects via the Danish Arts Foundation. However, if you contact the academy, they’ll introduce you to the architect in residence to arrange a visit. Also on Mallorca Villa Neuendorf, by British architect John Pawson which you can rent via boutique-homes. The home was commissioned by Berlin-based Art Dealers and is the greatest example of a modern Balearic villa you could imagine. Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Mallorca is also worth visiting.
Where do you recommend staying in each location?
In Barcelona, we stayed at Casa Bonay and Soho House upon recommendations of friends who have spent a lot of time in the city. Soho House is in an excellent location with the perfect amount of Catalan charm.
In Cretas we stayed at Solo House which we highly recommend for a summer holiday. However, if you’re more of a hotel person, hotel de visca just outside of Valderrobres is a beautiful option.
In Mallorca at Deya on the West Coast of the island is a quaint hilltop village which runs down to Cala Deya beach. The restaurant there is a must visit. We stayed at Es Moli – a 3-star, family run hotel – purely for their private cove 10 mins drive along a winding road. However, the best hotel in the area, possibly on the whole of Mallorca, is Belmond La Residencia.
Your top dining locations?
Cal Pep – best tapas.
Passadis del Pep – the sister restaurant to Cal Pep – best for long lunches, and longer dinners.
Ciccone’s – Italian at Soho House, the lobster spaghetti is impossible to go past.
El Xampanyet – tiny bar, super cosy for a late-night drink & tapas.
Bar Brutal for their selection of natural wines.
Caravelle – for breakfast.
Llamber – for Paella.
Na Foradada – for the best sunset on the island. 300m above sea level, perched on the hilltop just outside of Deia. A drink at the neighbouring bar afterwards is a good idea.
Ca’s Patro March – built upon the rocks right on Cala Deia. The freshest seafood.
Restaurante Sa Vinya – a courtyard upon the terraces behind the road through Deia. An unforgettable Paella.
Café Sa Fonda – for a before or after-dinner vino tinto.
What little Spanish towns did you unearth, and what did you love about each one?
Valderobbres – a picturesque riverside village close to Solo House.
La FontCalda – a natural hot spring down a hairpin road. Park near the convent and make your way along the stream to the hot spring.
Mondrego – east coast of Mallorca. Rent a boat from Palma and cruise along the coast until you reach Mondrego. Pristine coves, and palest blue water.
List any cultural landmarks or precincts that you recommend.
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.
All of the Gaudi buildings.
We saw some incredible images from your stay in Deyá; was it always on your itinerary or did you encounter it on your travels? What was remarkable about this destination?
We had Deia booked as soon as our flights were organised; the geography of the area alone is enough reason to visit. The coves are crystal clear, and the Serra de Tramuntana mountains that line the coast are said to contain healing properties (we felt extremely relaxed and restored after our stay here). The town itself is an idyllic one – with the mountains as the backdrop, the town is built into the ravine and surrounded by terraced groves of orange, lemon, and olive trees. In the evenings the sound of sheep & donkeys from the surrounding olive groves can be heard – it’s magical.
What are the travel necessities in packing for a tour through Spain?
My Sydney wardrobe translated really well for the Spanish holiday. T-shirts, tailored pants, relaxed fitting cotton dresses, flat sandals, a pair of great sneakers, and your favourite swimsuits. Leave the jewellery at home.
Your learnt tips and advice on travelling to Spain?
Ride a bike! It’s the best way to get around most cities, and it was the perfect way for us to experience Barcelona.
Take advantage of the jet lag by exploring the Gothic Quarter early in the morning. Seek out a bakery for pa amb tomàqet (bread rubbed with tomato, oil & salt), or go to one of the cities’ many open-air markets such as La Boqueria and sit at a bar for a morning coffee.
Plan dinners around 9pm, any earlier and you’ll be the only ones in the restaurant. When you sit for tapas, ask the waiter to have the kitchen select your dishes for you (unless you’re a fussy eater, in which case, order from the menu!)
You can follow Jacqueline on Instagram at @jacperrett