Material Gain


The designer of Cotton Housel Hotel in Barcelona uses his local eye for detail to give the historic building a new lease on life.

Acclaimed Catalan artist and designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán has worked on many projects, but his refurbishment of the Cotton House Hotel has a more personal significance: “Our studio is here, my house is here, I walk my dogs around here.” His local eye for detail has given the Cotton House a new lease on life.

Sophisticated library seating area with shelves filled with books and intricate ceiling

The Cotton House is tailor-made for a special stay in Barcelona. Housed in a landmark 19th-century neoclassical building, the former headquarters of the city’s Cotton Textile Foundation. Rosa-Violán’s thoughtful refurbishment of the building has retained original elements, such as the exquisite inlaid parquet floor tiles, boiserie-embellished walls and ceiling frescoes, as well as the famous spiral staircase, built in 1957, suspended from the metal frame of the upper floor – the only one of its kind in the whole of Europe. 

Looking through a mirrored vestibule is the hotel’s airy entrance hall, built to accommodate the horses and carts of the tradesmen who once unloaded their bolts here. True to its roots, the thread count remains reassuringly high throughout the building. Fluffy cotton floral displays dot shared spaces, and backlit fabric books shine out from glass bookcases in the hotel’s restaurant, Batuar. The bedrooms take their names from different cottons, so you could be staying in Madras, Taffeta, or Egyptian. And, of course, only the finest cottons and linens are placed throughout, from the gloriously soft sheets on the king-size beds that grace the 83 stylish and comfortable rooms to the plush restaurant napkins. 

Elegant sitting area next to ornate fireplace and artwork

Old traditions continue in the adjoining L’Atelier, a salon where guests can choose their cloth and be measured and dressed for suits and shirts by the city’s top bespoke tailors. Guests can also enjoy the luminous glass conservatory, a rooftop pool with a view of the Sagrada Família, and a 400-square-meter garden terrace, the perfect spot for sipping the unique Gossypium cocktail, crafted by the hotel’s expert mixologists. At Batuar, you can dine on modern Catalan tapas, such as foie gras lollipops, or indulge in a Spanish brunch featuring Ibérico ham and crispy langostinos 

Two modern white sofas in front of handsome carved wood fireplace & a circular chandelier
Casual seating in front of bar with small tables and wicker chairs
View looking down the center of an elegant spiral staircase

A Discussion With Lázaro, the designer of Cotton House. 

What was your inspiration for the Cotton House’s design? 

I thought it needed to be eclectic like the city itself, which has both the downtown and the beach, and all kinds of styles coexisting within it: Gothic and European, Modernism and Regionalism, etcetera. At the same time, we wanted it to convey a very approachable, familial feel that would appeal to anyone. 

Did you take the building’s history into account? 

Yes. It was the center of the Catalan textile industry in the 19th century, so we used a lot of white, the color of cotton and linen, to open up and brighten the spaces. We mixed and matched; we retained the original mahogany console tables but also brought in 50s-style classic club sofas. We even made a special perfume, inspired by cotton, that is diffused throughout the hotel. 

Guest room with city view over the balcony

What impression are you hoping guests will take away from their stay at the Cotton House? 

I think you can find many comfortable hotels in the world that are full of design for the sake of design. With the Cotton House, we wanted it to tell a unique story in the way that it represents the rich history of the building, and yet it has been revitalized and refreshed in just the same way that Barcelona continues to reinvent itself. That’s why I wanted it to have the feel of a regular bourgeois Catalan home of that era, yet with all the comforts of a luxury hotel.