Ca la Maria
It took me a while to decide whether I wanted to add Barcelona to the Local Hideaways website, … for, these days, the city is so popular with tourists that even the locals in this Catalonian capital are complaining. Hmmmmm, not quite in line with the Local Hideaways philosophy. But then I came into contact with Maria, who introduced me to her beautiful ‘Ca la Maria’, a wonderful Hideaway in the heart of Barcelona. A special place that meets all of Mrs. Local Hideaway’s criteria and one that I absolutely want to share with you. And, as is so often the case with popular cities, if you avoid the overcrowded tourist spots in Barcelona, you’ll find it is a wonderful city which you will be able to enjoy totally, all the while feeling like you’re one of the locals instead of a tourist 😉
Maria, who is originally from Calafell – 60 km south of Barcelona – went to Barcelona to study architecture when she was 18 and was looking for a place to live for her and her sister, also a student here. Their parents helped out and bought a floor in a gorgeous old Modernist house in the Eixample district, with high ceilings and ornaments, an elegant style that is typical for the neighbourhood. The architectural style here allows for a lovely large patio hidden at the back of each of the houses. For the next eight years, the building functioned as a student accommodation and housed students from all over the world…..and the basis for ‘Ca la Maria’ was laid. After her graduation, Maria started work as an architect, but it turned out this wasn’t her thing. Her passion was in meeting new people and in cooking. And that was when all the pieces fit together, for a great residence was available that, with her many qualities, she turned into ‘Ca la Maria’, which opened its doors in November 2013.
It takes me a while to find the right door….it’s a real Hideaway;-) and my enthusiasm grows as soon as the door closes behind me and I spot the magnificent old lift of the kind that is so typical for these Modernist buildings. After a warm welcome, I take my time to absorb my wonderful surroundings. The building, with all its grandeur, is truly mind blowing, but the contemporary art that is everywhere, makes it even more remarkable. It turns out that Maria’s parents have been keen art collectors for the past 30 years and the B&B provides the perfect surroundings for sharing their collection with others. It makes for a unique style! The various rooms are also decorated with impressive works of art. As I am travelling with my husband and children, we’re lucky to be staying in the two-room suite. Wow, so much unexpected space in the heart of the city: a living room, an enormous bathroom and two large bedrooms with ditto beds. And hardly any noise from the street- you’ll sleep like a baby in here! All the other rooms are equally spacious, and two are situated in the adjacent building, sharing a common room there.
The large common room in the main building is more like a living room, full of beautiful (art) books, an immense collection of DVDs (films in different languages), that can be projected on a large screen and an unlimited supply of coffee, tea, soft drinks and snacks. Funny detail: this honesty bar has a piggy bank, you don’t have to donate anything, but everything you do give goes to charity!
Breakfast in the morning is a sumptuous affair, providing a solid base for a daytrip around town. And I haven’t even told you about the master piece yet – an enormous terrace with several lounge areas…you won’t want to leave here, even for a day, it’s such a lovely haven and the people are so warm and helpful. But hey, you’re in Barcelona, so, by all means, go out and explore, but be sure to go off the beaten track. Maria has some great recommendations, also make sure you ask her for her favourite restaurants. And as this really is a hidden gem, I urge you: “don’t spread the word!”