César Ritz, the father of the modern luxury hotel industry, only planned to build his impressive hotels in capital cities. There was a Ritz in Paris, London and Madrid, all offering exceptional luxury, service, and sophistication, both in the hotels themselves as well as in their restaurants.
After the end of World War I, Francesc Cambó, a Catalan politician, went to the Ritz of Madrid and saw the future he believed
Barcelona deserved: a Ritz of its own. He convinced César Ritz to build one of his hotels in Barcelona, knowing that it would give the city a boost and become a place for important people to gather.
With the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition on the horizon, construction of the hotel began. Sadly, César Ritz passed away in 1918, before the Ritz of Barcelona was completed.
1919 - 2020
El Palace Barcelona: witness to more than 100 years of local and international history
1919 - present
El Palace Barcelona is the oldest luxury hotel in the city. Our timelines have been entwined since the beginning and we continue to make history together.
Since opening in 1919, El Palace Barcelona has participated in all of the important periods in Barcelona’s history. Shortly after participating in the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, the Spanish Civil War began.
On July 22, 1936, the hotel was seized by the FOSIG (Federación Obrera de Sindicatos de la Industria Gastronómica) and unionised. They hoped to socialise the hotel industry and eliminate ostentation, renaming the hotel Hotel Gastronómico N.º1 (Gastronomic Hotel No. 1). The basement area was repurposed as a bomb shelter and the hotel rooms were converted into a blood hospital for the Red Cross.
The government regained control of the hotel in 1937, using it to house official visitors. It was also used as the headquarters for the health subsection of the social services department.
In the end, thanks to Josep Tarradellas, the Ritz of Barcelona was able to return to its initial spirit and calling – instead of being turned into the headquarters for the Finance Department.
The 1992 Summer Olympics, held in Barcelona, marked an important milestone in the city’s history. This is when the city earned its position on the international tourist map, with El Palace Barcelona here to welcome both visitors and locals with the best the city has to offer.
1919 - present
1919 - present
There are so many different facets of arts and ways of expressing the human experience. Throughout its existence, El Palace Barcelona has enjoyed a deep connection with so many types of art and artists that in 2017, we decided to dedicate our newly renovated Art Suites to six different artistic disciplines with direct links to the hotel.
Salvador Dalí, one of the most famous Surrealists, lived in El Palace Barcelona. To him, we have dedicated our painting suite.
For our suite dedicated to the art of dance, who better than Josephine Baker, the star of screen and stage, who called El Palace Barcelona home when visiting the city?
The architecture suite is dedicated to César Ritz, the father of modern hotel architecture and our progenitor, without whom we simply would not exist.
Joan Miró, the master sculptor, not to mention his other skills, came to the hotel to enjoy conversations with other intellectuals. To him, we have dedicated our sculpture suite.
So much literature has taken place in Barcelona, but the novels of Carlos Ruiz Zafón breathe new life into the city and share its enchantment with a wider audience. Since he gave us the honour of showing up in the pages of his novel, we have dedicated our literature suite to this author.
For the music suite, who better than Ronnie Wood, the legendary guitarist of the Rolling Stones, to serve as our inspiration. Not only did he live and perform in the hotel, but he also helped to design the suite we have named after him.
1919 - present
Throughout the years, El Palace Barcelona has enjoyed continuous involvement with both local and international culture, welcoming visitors from all over the world and all walks of life. The prestigious Premio Nadal and Ramon Llull Award have been held in the hotel since their inception.
Among the guests who have visited the hotel, bringing along with them their special links to culture, can be found John Knittel, Severo Ochoa, Josep Pla, Umberto Echo, and Salvador Dalí.
In addition to the artists walking through our halls, El Palace Barcelona has been home to a number of fashion shows, especially during the era of the “Fashion Afternoon Teas”.
What is now the Parilla Conference Room was once the famous Parilla del Ritz. This was a centre for the gastronomy, music and social life of the city. Josephine Baker graced the stage here, among others.
The Bluesman Cocktail Bar still features live music regularly. One of its most famous performers was Ronnie Wood, who decided to put on a spontaneous performance while staying at the hotel. Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé met at the hotel and performed together on the piano in the main hall.
It would be impossible to name all of the people who made their mark on the hotel, but on the list of musicians we have hosted can be found Maria Callas, Arthur Rubinstein, Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington, Margot Fonteyn, Xavier Cugat, Robert Plant, Alfredo Kraus, Enrique Iglesias, Montserrat Caballé, Freddie Mercury, Frank Sinatra, Cristina Aguilera, Paul McCartney, Ronnie Wood, José Carreras, and Whitney Houston.
There has always been a strong link between the hotel and the world of gastronomy. Many grand banquets, weddings and celebrations have been held here, beginning when we first opened our doors and continuing to date.
One of the first important banquets that the Ritz of Barcelona prepared was in early 1920 for the employees of the Noticiero Universal newspaper, who were celebrating the introduction of Sunday as a day of rest.
From that moment on, the name Ritz was not only associated with the luxury of the hotel, but also with the high quality of the cuisine offered. As the prestige of the hotel’s gastronomy increased, it began to serve banquets off premise and even outside of the city of Barcelona. To serve as an example, in one year, the hotel served 288 banquets with a total of 10,234 guests.
Now, in addition to our banquets, El Palace Barcelona is known for the high quality of its local, seasonal dishes. Our varied menus highlight regional stars as well as international flavours, with classic and modern dishes. British afternoon tea, gourmet coffee, and delightful settings make the most of the quality of the food we offer.
The classic architecture and aesthetics of the hotel have made it the perfect filming location for films, advertisements and television series.
Apart from shining on the screen itself, the hotel has hosted a great number of stars from the silver screen, including John Wayne, Anita Ekberg, Cary Grant, Anthony Quinn, Sean Connery, Sophia Loren, Luis García-Berlanga, Gina Lollobrigida, Joseph Cotten, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Rock Hudson, Alain Delon, Patrick Swayze, Roger Moore, Michael Douglas, David Carradine, Diane Keaton, and Pierce Brosnan.
History does not end. It is constantly being made. For that reason, El Palace Barcelona has become a place where the old meets the new; where history and the future join hands.
After more than a century in existence, El Palace Barcelona remains a place where art, culture, gastronomy, and life all come together. The hotel has a young and innovative spirit and is constantly
coming up with new ideas to offer its guests and its city exciting new experiences and possibilities. There is always something happening at El Palace Barcelona.
1919 - present