Sir Victor Hotel in Barcelona is currently the hottest spot of the Catalan capital. Thanks to a recent change of management, a total make-over and the harmonious hang of the owner’s art collection, the new hotel is spectacular.
Barcelona retains its reputation as a cool, buzzing, creative, and endlessly gorgeous city, thanks to its access to the beach, its unique architecture, the Tibidabo mountain, its 310 days of sun (on average) and its rich Mediterranean vegetation. Reopened in June 2019, Sir Victor Hotel is a fantastic addition to the city. Sir Victor Barcelona is part of Liran Wizman’s group of stunning hotels including Ibiza, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Berlin. “I want to create hubs for both locals and travellers alike.” Wizman said about his most recent hospitality re-branding projects.
Part of this re-branding (the location was formerly named Hotel Omm, and managed by a different company) was to find a new name. Sir Victor gets its name from the novelist, playwright and poet Victor Català, the pseudonym of Caterina Albert i Paradís (1869-1966). She grew up in Catalonia and started as a poet using the pen name Virigili d’Alacseal. Like so many women writers of her time, she had to write under a man’s name so as to get her work published. A nod to this story is the library of women author-only books at the hotel. Such a statement.
The hotel’s location is one of its most significant assets. Just off the elegant Passeig de Gràcia which boasts most luxury stores (including the smart local Santa Eulalia) and Gaudí’s Casa Batlló among other wonders, Sir Victor offers 91 modern rooms and suites; most of them feature balconies.
The hotel has amazing rooftop views over the city’s landmarks La Pedrera and Sagrada Familia and a plunge pool. Other highlights include meeting rooms and private spaces on the 6th floor for private events such as book club nights and concerts, an orange snooker table in the lobby, art and fashion books, a spa, jacuzzi and relaxation room, and strong art by the likes of international contemporary artists Jaume Plensa, Antoni Tàpies and Regina Gimenez.
Idit Orni is an independent curator and art advisor based in London. She was in charge of selecting and curating the art. She talks to Art is Alive: “The vision of the founder of the Sircle Collection, Liran Wizman, a passionate art collector, is to collect works by local artists to promote and foster the local art scene of the city where his hotels are located. Through this, Liran invites our guests to explore another cultural aspect of that city. As such, for Sir Victor’s art collection I’ve selected works by contemporary Catalan artists only. For Max Brown Vienna, for example, I selected Viennese artists, for Sir Nikolai Hamburg only German artists, and so on and so forth.” This approach gives clients a unique way to understand the local cultural landscape, and they immediately want to learn more.
“To source the works for Sir Victor I flew to Barcelona several times to research the city’s art scene by visiting local galleries and artists’ studios. I met local collectors, art professionals, and frequently visited local museums.
The idea behind the collection is to give a diverse overview of the best of what the local art scene has to offer and to achieve this, we’ve acquired works by young emerging Catalan artists such as Bernat Daviu, Enric Farrés Duran, (which we commissioned to create limited series of unique works on paper and limited fine art prints), mid-career artists like Regina Gimenez, Ester Partegàs Jordi Mitjà and Samuel Salcedo to well- established artists like Àngels Ribé, Perejaume, Antoni Muntadas, Antoni Tàpies, Joan Hernández Pijuan, Joan Brossa and the internationally-acclaimed Jaume Plensa to name a few.” Idit continues. “Because the vision was to support and promote the local art scene, it was natural for Sir Victor to partner with Barcelona Gallery Weekend and be one of its main patrons.” Held in October, Barcelona Gallery Weekend is an annual four-day event promoted by the galleries association Art Barcelona. It consists of a general programme of exhibitions in the city’s modern and contemporary art galleries and an artistic interventions, talks, performances and happenings in public venues in Barcelona and its surroundings.
“Currently at the hotel we have almost 500 original works and the collection continues to expand. Last Thursday, we installed a monumental bronze sculpture by Jaume Plensa titled Irma’s Dream, 2015, in the lobby of the hotel. Irma now ‘greets’ our visitors and guests.”
Immediately on arrival, guests feel the luxurious, well-curated atmosphere, and sharp attention to details. Similarly as with the art collection, a small store features unique and local craft and objects, perfect for last-minute gifts. Carefully selected pieces by independent and emerging designers Gonzalo Cutrina, Ölend, Hey Studio, Curated By and Lydia Delgado can be purchased.
How do the artwork resonate with the space and the architecture of the lobby and rooms? “I’ve selected works for Sir Victor for their qualities. The pieces are not part of the hotel’s decoration but primarily stand for their own merits. Most of the works were purchased before I had even seen the plans of the hotel. I believe if an artwork has great qualities it will find its place on the right wall, and so it happened. I also believe that the design of the hotel might change every few years, but good artworks stay fresh and relevant for years and will fit with any design.” Idit cleverly points out about the interiors of Sir Victor.
Sir Hotels commissioned interior design and architecture studio Baranowitz + Kronenberg (Sushi Samba Tel Aviv, Israel Museum’s shop etc.) to lead the design of the multifaceted ground floor space. Building on Sir Hotel’s philosophy of connecting to local environments, B+K took inspiration from the natural landscape of Catalunya. The colours of the lobby, corridors, textile and artworks reflect this. In each room, wooden furniture by B&B Italia and Cassina, eco-friendly toiletry products, comfy slippers, exhibition catalogues, Nani Marquina’s contemporary, handmade rugs, make for the most peaceful environment.
Idit highlights a few works displayed at Sir Victor: “We commissioned Bernat Daviu (Catalan, b.1985) to paint original and unique works on paper for each room. For this commission, I’ve selected his Cocktail series of abstract paintings. They are not only beautiful and poetic with their horizons and very lively with their bold colours, but they also bring the special wit and humorous spirit that characterised many of the Catalan artists. The overflow of the cocktail, which is a result of the Xarrupa, the Slurp, is great fun. It breaks the mould of abstract geometric paintings as we know them.
We also commissioned Enric Farrés Duran (Catalan, b. 1983) to create special and limited fine art prints. I had seen his work at his gallery at Bombon Projects in Barcelona. The work is titled A Good Display and is from 2017. I chose to hang this work in the toilet of each of our rooms. Again, humorous. The work focuses on someone’s back and elevates it to high art by placing it on a plinth. The way the image is placed recalls a viewing through a peep hole. The artist often works with found materials. Here he works with a found vintage postcard.”
Back on the ground floor, the earthier tones create a more intimate, 50s feel, as experienced at MR PORTER restaurant. Padded banquettes complemented by large circular ceiling lights and dark walnut furniture fill the restaurant. Rich textures and materials such as bevelled marble, black leather and copper surfaces create a rich, stimulating palette. MR PORTER, which has its own entrance, serves delicious dishes for lunch inspired by the traditional steakhouse with a contemporary twist, excellent breakfast and afternoon tea.
Other cool spaces include The Zero Space Spa & Gym which is a luxurious wellness destination. Guests of the hotel have full access to the spa and gym.
Sir Explore – the experiences initiative which launched in March and curated alongside friends of the hotels, allows guests across all cities, to explore the surroundings through the eyes of true locals. Sir Hotels are the first hotel chain to present such a package. In Barcelona, this includes a photography stroll around Fundació Joan Miró with artist Mahala Nuuk, an architecture tour of the city with design experts Suzanne Wales and Brian Gallagher, or a wine tasting session with writer Nika Shevela.
From its unique branding (imaginative logos on maps etc.), local guide, selection of fashion magazines, ultra-comfortable and modern luxurious rooms, amazing and helpful staff, and location, Sir Victor is the ultimate destination for art lovers staying in the magical capital of Catalunya.
Idit Orni’s favourite, recent art exhibitions seen in Barcelona and elsewhere:
Barcelona – Gallery Joan Prats has a great exhibition programme, I enjoyed their exhibition of Guinovart, works from 1975-8 a lot. Their recent solo exhibition of abstract paintings and photography by Juan Usle too.
Foundation Miró – is a must-see for its permanent collection which is an absolute treat and for its incredible Catalan architecture and breath-taking views of the city.
Another wonderful group exhibition I’ve seen is at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, in Israel – ‘If on a Winter’s Night Traveller’ which features master works by the fascinating and prolific American artist, Adam Pendleton.
I hung new works for Sir Nikolai Hamburg two weeks ago and got the chance to visit Hamburger Kunsthalle wonderful permanent collection and finally see in person Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Wanderer above Sea of Fog, 1817. Indeed, a moving masterpiece.
In London, I’ve just seen Picasso and Paper at the Royal Academy. I can never get enough of Picasso’s work and his brilliant innovations which looks so fresh even now.
We have an abstract painting by Bernat Daviu at Sir Victor’s collection which is part of his cocktail series. This painting was inspired by Picasso’s blue period paintings, which Picasso mostly produced in Barcelona. The painting titled Xarrupa (Absinth), 2019.
Xarrupa in Catalan means Slurp. And the dripping looks like an overflow of the cocktail after the drink was slurping.
The colours allude to the Absinthe drink which appears a lot in Picasso’s blue period paintings and which is considered as the ultimate artists’ drink.