The Bagués Hotel in Barcelona features 27 Émile Gallé vases


Located on La Rambla, the establishment of the Derby Hotels Collection reinforces its connection to art nouveau with a permanent exhibition of 27 vases by the prestigious Émile Gallé and contemporary artists.

Since its opening in 2010 right on La Rambla, the Hotel Bagués has stood as a tribute to modernism. This ambition of the establishment didn’t stem from a deliberate decision, but rather was inherited from the past of the building now housing its 30 rooms. At the intersection of the iconic Barcelona avenue with Carrer del Carme stood the Bagués-Masriera jewelry workshop, a symbol of modernism translated into jewelry. This building’s history led Derby Hotels Collection, led by Jordi Clos, to make modernism the guiding principle of the hotel, which now takes it a step further with the addition of a new Art Nouveau glass collection.

The 27 glass vases in the collection are the new focal point of the hotel’s museum-like room. Nearly half of the pieces are by the renowned artist Émile Gallé, while the rest are by contemporary artists. Despite the diversity in authorship, all of them are characterized by their vibrant colors and complex techniques, employing layers of glass and acids to bring out intricate engravings of whimsical forms, mostly inspired by nature.

Most of the pieces came from an auction where Clos personally participated, and he “swept” in with the aim of acquiring all the pieces offered, which came from a “noble family” of which no details were disclosed. Regarding details, the price of the new collection hasn’t been specified: “Money doesn’t matter, the stories behind the pieces do.” Another important aspect is that Clos has emphasized the importance of Barcelona, a symbol of modernism, having this Art Nouveau glass collection, which he doesn’t rule out expanding.

The vases now occupy a space where Bagués-Masriera jewelry was exhibited, which had been loaned to the hotel. They now return to their owners and to the establishment they have in the basement of the also modernist Casa Ametller on Passeig de Gràcia. The hotel’s jewelry past infiltrates the establishment and its rooms, with old molds and jewelry from the historic workshop. References to modernism also run through its facilities, from the furniture in the rooms to the design of the spaces, with sinuous curves, fluid and asymmetrical lines, floral ornamentation, and details inspired by nature.

The new pieces add to the more than 5,400 items collected by Clos and his team over the years. They are distributed across the Museu Egipci de Barcelona, also founded by Clos, and the establishments of Derby Hotels Collection. Founded in 1968, the chain boasts 22 luxury establishments in iconic buildings in Barcelona, Madrid, London, and Paris, housing collections and pieces of styles and origins as diverse as Ancient Egypt, classical culture, pre-Columbian civilizations, and African tribal art. “We don’t know if we’re museum curators or hoteliers,” proclaimed Clos alongside the hotel’s director, Greg Behn.

The new Art Nouveau collection will not only be visited by hotel guests, as the establishment will open it to the public on specific days. Moreover, the hotel won’t hinder entry to those who come specifically to admire the meticulous glasswork showcased in the collection. Thus, admiring these pieces can be the motive and excuse to immerse oneself in this modernist environment, but it’s not the only reason to do so. The hotel hides on its rooftop a terrace with privileged views offering an unusual perspective of Barcelona and the Gothic Quarter. Overlooking the Church of Betlem on Carrer del Carme, it serves as a balcony over La Rambla, allowing one to calmly contemplate the avenue without being part of the hustle and bustle of tourists and locals. An oasis that from May to October opens its bar and cocktail lounge to any visitor, through a discreet, almost secretive invitation, aiming to maintain an exclusive atmosphere as a hidden viewpoint of the city’s most prominent avenue.