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Architectural Harmony

A seductive new boutique hotel in the capital of the Costa Brava.

Photos by Salva Lopez

We aimed to create a sense of high luxury minus the pretensions. To respect the original architecture of course, but be fresh, elegant, surprising and at times a little disruptive.

-El Equipo Creativo

El Equipo Creativo has completed the interior design of Palau Fugit. Located deep in Girona’s atmospheric Barri Vell (Old Quarter), the award-winning studio converted a disused 18th-century palace into a destination hotel as charming and seductive as Girona itself. El Equipo Creativo used the ‘two Gironas’ as their creative starting point. The first is the Barri Vell; an emblematic district of weathered stone facades, hidden cul-de-sacs, porticoes and stone ramparts. In contrast, the designers have highlighted the lighter side of the city - namely the vibrant colours that bathe the townhouses flanking the River Onyar along with Girona’s most famous spring celebration - El Temps de Flors (The Time of Flowers). These influences, enhanced with striking modern art and crafted objects, create a hotel that begs to be discovered and enjoyed.

Founded in 2011 by architects Oliver Franz Schmidt, Natali Canas del Pozo, and Lucas Echeveste Lacy, EL EQUIPO CREATIVO is a renowned Barcelona-based interior architecture and design studio specialising in the design of hospitality, gastronomy, and Brand spaces. Their philosophy centres around the belief that spatial design should tell compelling stories and inspire people, always grounded in a solid conceptual approach. Their portfolio includes collaborations with some of the world’s most prestigious chefs, including Michelin-star restaurants, solidifying their expertise in the industry. Their work has garnered global recognition, with features in hundreds of publications worldwide. They are proud recipients of over 70 international design awards, including the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, FRAME Awards, and BOY Awards, all known for honouring innovative and conceptual design. Beyond project recognition, the studio has also been honoured for its trajectory and methodology. They have been awarded Best Interior Design Firm (Architizer A+Awards), Interiors Practice of the Year (WIN Awards), and Firm of the Year (The American Architecture Prize).

Palau Fugit unfolds in two principal parts, both adapted to the needs of modern travellers and experience hunters by the Barcelona-based architecture studio Isern Associats. The first is the original palauet. Here, an arched courtyard, renamed ‘La Placeta’, holds the reception area, restaurant, and cocktail bar and a tucked-away spa-for-one. Guests ascend to rooms via the original staircase of the palace. The second building, named the Pavelló, is an annexe that takes shape with a modern, rational approach. Both these volumes are connected by a terrace or the ‘heart’ of the hotel. Endowed with a small swimming pool, abundant ferns and a poetic central sculpture (titled Font de Gararotes) by the renowned local artist Frederic Amat, it provides a serene oasis for guests and a natural connection between the two edifices.

For the rooms in El Palauet, El Equipo Creativo reimagined the sumptuous decor of the fin de siècle through a prism of contemporary design and art. The designer’s goal was to instil a ‘feminine’ presence throughout, recreating the warm and eclectic ambiance of a noble family nest. Careful attention to detail and the selection of materials and textures create a rich visual experience. This is further enhanced by a curation of paintings, sculptures, murals, and photographs - all of which are original works by local artists. Although each room and suite presents a design story unto itself, gothic arches and porticoes, a dominant architectural motif of Girona’s Barri Vell, are a recurring influence and narrative.

Curvaceous chaise longues, bespoke rattan bed heads, and avant-garde lighting enfold the guest. Surfaces and textiles, from velvet drapes to strategically placed mirrors, invite the user to linger and relax in this historic setting. Anchoring each room sits a custom-made marble vanity unit, a monolithic interpretation of the tocador (dressing table) that exemplifies the domestic life of the period. The rooms in El Palauet brim in a palette of natural stone shades and soft blues, greys, and blush tones, creating an elegant mise en scène that is very contemporary and lends a new life to original features such as ceiling roses and carved balcony shutters.

Casa Heras, the hotel’s restaurant, is inspired by the social and hospitality areas of the original palace and adapted to modern lifestyle and comfort. Like the rest of the hotel, modern art and objects elevate the spaces, as seen in the whimsical wall murals created by Joana Santamans. Sparkling copper pots and pans placed on an antique dresser fill the dining room, while high-quality tables, chairs, and fittings denote a timeless modern feel. Adjacent to La Placeta is the reception room, where guests check in at a bespoke Yves Klein blue reception table overhung by a blossoming golden chandelier. This composition sets the tone for the rest of the hotel - a concept that balances history and modernity, formality and informality, and offers a unique and welcoming base while experiencing the rich history and culture of Girona.

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