Breakfasts and Beds: The White Bar, Chic and Basic, Barcelona
Chic and Basic Hotel, Born
by Kiwi Herman
Music festivals and breakfast don’t mix.
That’s unless well into your 30s like me, you prefer to couple spontaneous hedonism with premeditated comfort (ie. sack off camping in mudbaths for boutique hotels in the Med).
Commissioned to write a review of Barcelona’s Sonar Festival, I decided to lord it up at the Chic and Basic Hotel in my favourite district, Born - and made damn sure I got up for breakfast (after all who knew when I might eat again?).
Sonar: let’s just say if Glastonbury is medieval, like people going to war, then Sonar is more tribal, like people going to dance, make love… and then eat.
Ever seen a 61 year old Amazonian, once muse to Andy Warhol, hula-hoop in a thong swimsuit? Thanks to Spain’s 3 day electronic music mecca and the scariest lady on the planet - Grace Jones, I have.
But that’s actually all I saw (or remember seeing) because Barcelona has too much else to get involved in – like tapas. Apparently there’s an art to eating them, ‘tapeo’. Well, if it’s artistic to stuff your face at every given opportunity – little and often – then give me a montadito and call me El Gordo.
The hotel: Literally one of the most bizarre places I’ve ever stayed in – like living in an iPod. I now affectionately refer to it as the ‘disco spunk’ hotel.
You enter the century-old building under what looks like a giant jellyfish-slash-womb. Then there’s the corridors – massive plastic tentacles come down from the ceiling and change colour via LEDs every few minutes. It’s all a bit “beam me up, Scottie”. Oh, the photo opportunities that can be had after indulging in too much cava (andthentherest).
As if that’s not psychedelic enough, you can change the colour of your very white room via remote control (and make it flash like a disco – ‘chromo-therapy’ apparently), the glass shower is in the middle of the bedroom (my researcher and I now have no secrets), and the manager knows the perving hotspots on the beach to check out fit Spaniards (what a shame I’m not really their type on these particular beaches).
The breakfast: At the hotel’s ‘White Bar’. Imagine all the above, then add a disco buffet bar made of mirrored tiles (surpassed in kitsch only by the disco boat I’ve spotted on Regent’s Canal by Broadway Market), ‘Streetlife’ coming through the speakers, Guinness bottles lining the walls and another jellyfish thingumejig on the ceiling.
For 8.50E you get all that, plus an all-you-can-eat Catalan buffet of croissants (er, aren’t they French?), cheese and meats. Weirdly there were also Coco Pops (or Spanish equivalent, er… Caca Poopoos?).
Screw cereal, I’d eat gazpacho for breakfast every day if I could (might as well start the day stinking of garlic as you mean to carry on). The White Bar offered the next best thing - a big bowl of fresh tomato pulp mixed with olive oil, garlic and sea salt – ready and waiting to be added to rustic bread to make ‘pan con tomate’, the ubiquitous 19th Century Catalan dish. Simple - but also the best thing that's ever been done to bread. Or to a tomato for that matter. Thanks again Spain for bringing the veg, damnit, fruit, to Europe.
Chic and Basic’s ‘White Bar’ had me at the pan con tomate.
It’s chic. It’s basic. It’s camp - and I’m never camping at a festival again.