20 October 2014 by David Ward
Amy Sohanpaul spends a weekend at the luxury boutique hotel, Hospes de Los Patos in the Spanish city of Granada, and discovers a captivating concoction of Moorish architecture with a thoroughly modern twist.
It sits sleek and shiny on the other side of a large courtyard lined with fountains. It might look like an utterly random juxtaposition, this gleaming new cube and the charming old building, but it works. Perhaps because the city it sits in, Granada, is itself such a mix of influences: old, new, Moorish, European.
The Moors introduced the pomegranate to the region, and within the walls of the old building, other hints of their legacy can be seen, in the carved wooden ceiling and Moorish tiles on the walls. But look upwards, and a tangled jumble of silver cables twist down from the arched ceiling, an artful modern mess making a charming contrast against a classical backdrop.
This balance between edgy and elegant is repeated with success in the old part of the hotel. The marble staircase beneath that chic contemporary chandelier leads to the Presidential suite, where an exquisite wrought metal headboard sits next to a gleaming metal cube of a bedside table. Contemporary floor lamps stand on an intricately inlaid floor, restored faithfully to replicate the original. Above it all soars a trompe l'oeil ceiling with swooping swallows, again beautifully restored. Sympathetic restorations are what the Hospes Group specialise in. They're also rather good at making stark contemporary design work alongside historic detail. Tall wooden shutters frame beautiful old windows in my junior suite, but within the high old walls all is decidedly modern - mock croc bedstead and console table, a low leather covered coffee table, a lounging chair, also covered in leather. Rather terrifyingly, all this is white and cream and absolutely immaculate.
The bathroom is at the bottom of a half-flight of marble stairs, and the marble continues, climbing the walls of the sizeable bathroom, the bathtub, the separate shower cubicle - the only things not made of marble are the sink, the mirror and a set of very fluffy towels. And a tiny table by the sink, crowded with toiletries, but with little room to set out one's own essentials. That aside, everything else everywhere else is well thought out. The hotel spa for instance, may be small, but it is perfectly formed, with the plunge pool set directly underneath the glass-bottomed fountain in the courtyard, so soaking in the water downstairs means looking up at the water upstairs.
It's all very clever, and so is the layout and design of the modern Alabastro annexe. The rooms here are smaller than those in the old palacio, but are full of light. The lattice of alabaster blocks lining the front of the building is ingeniously designed to let vast swathes of sunshine in to each room. The trick of using pale green internal glass walls helps too.
The hotel's Senzone restaurant is on the ground floor of the modern wing, with glass walls overlooking the central courtyard. On sunny days, the tables spill out onto the terrace next to playing fountains. On this overcast evening, several punters spill into the restaurant, many of them locals, which bodes well for the meal ahead. But when a meticulously crafted amuse-bouche of beetroot crisps, a shot of crayfish consommé and a banana lollipop appears, I wonder whether the pursuit of design hasn't gone a little too far, leaving good taste behind. It hadn't. Every course was outstanding, from the gazpacho to the guineafowl. The execution was decidedly contemporary, the starting ingredients were classic. It worked. It's a formula that works brilliantly throughout the hotel.