Jump to main content
Modern, narrow, rooftop swimming pool

Hot hotels: best-in-class conversions

They were once post offices, prisons and priories. Now, these historic properties are living out a second life as some of the world’s most glamorous hotels. Design geeks and history buffs unite: Hannah Ralph checks in to the coolest conversions

Grand bedroom with colourful sofa in front of a four poster bed
High Life highlight

Cotton House Hotel, Autograph Collection, Barcelona

Forget Gaudí and perennially unfinished cathedrals – when one thinks of Barcelona, one thinks of cotton. OK, maybe not. But when it comes to the fluffy stuff, Catalonia’s capital was nothing short of an 18th-century superpower. It won’t surprise you, then, that the city’s Association of Cotton House Manufacturers were a big deal, headquartered in an imposing 19th-century Neoclassical property, commissioned into being by the city’s upper bourgeoisie. What might surprise you is that you could have slept there and not even realised. Part of Marriott’s can-do-no-wrong Autograph Collection, Cotton House Hotel is decidedly not a time capsule: the décor has a crisp, colonial modernity that’s nowhere near done sweeping the Instagrams of stylish Millennials. Catnip for anyone with an appreciation for architecture, the hotel lobby is a work of art (one of the nicest we’ve seen); the famous spiral staircase (intact from the 1950s) hangs from the ceiling seemingly without support, and it’s all within walking distance of all of Barcelona’s best and brightest buildings.  

Named after the machine that pressed cotton to remove impurities, Batuar is the hotel’s achingly photogenic restaurant – keep an eye out for original bolts of cotton and 19th-century client ledgers from the heyday of the trade.

Rooms are all crisps linens, tall windows and dark wood floors, but the Damask suite (pictured) is the most unusual space, located in the former boardroom of the Cotton Producers Guild. Gaze up at the original ceiling and boiserie (circa 1879) from that mega four-poster.

As part of the hotel’s ‘Atelier Experience’, Cotton House calls upon its fashionable neighbour, Santa Eulalia, to create tailored 100 per cent cotton shirts for guests.

Book a stay at Cotton House Hotel

British Airways Holidays is here to help you find your perfect break. From carefully selected hotels to straightforward car hire, all costs are included in the final price, meaning there are no surprise extras. Plus, with a Customer Promise, ATOL protection and a 24-hour helpline, you’ll have total peace of mind when booking your holiday.

Plan your next holiday with British Airways