Live the Barcelona history in Hotel Continental

Hotel Continental Barcelona History

Not all the Hotels have the chance to have a rich history past in Barcelona. Hotel Continental has over 100 years of history and this valuable heritage makes it unique: you can feel the history in its atmosphere. The hotel has achieved to maintain this feel of the past and adapt it to the modern life and facilities. In fact, the hotel has gone through different changes and has lived in various political circumstances. The perfect situation in city center Las Ramblas has been an influence to make the hotel a perfect witness of all historical events in the city during the past century. Are you a freak of history and vintage? Do not miss us!

First steps: Spanish Civil War and George Orwell

Hotel Continental opened in 1931: the family Malagarriga Vallet acquired it from the Albareda family and moved it next to where it was placed until 1931, in the Palace of Marquise of Pallejà. A few years after, the Spanish Civil War started and with it a peculiar episode of history for the hotel. The family was invited to leave the hotel and it was collectivized, becoming headquarters of the local government. These were tough years in the city and the conflict was devastating Barcelona and the country.
During these years Hotel Continental only accommodated war observers. However, another distinguished guest was staying in the hotel during the Civil War. George Orwell, one of the most famous writers of the XX century, decided to come to Barcelona and resided in Hotel Continental with his wife. He came to cover the war as a journalist and writer, but decided to join the POUM -a socialist party based in the city- and fight as a republican volunteer on the Aragon front. In Aragon Orwell was wounded and returned to the Hotel Continental, where his wife was staying, to recover from its injuries. This is when he wrote its famous novel “Homage to Catalonia” (1937), in which he mentions the hotel several times. Other known personalities have been customers of the hotel, such as the singer Antonio Machin, who stayed in the hotel when he came to perform in the Lyceum Theatre.

Time Trends: Automatic Bar and Television

Historic photo of Hotel Continental Barcelona

After the Civil War, the family returned to the hotel and it operated normally. Hotel Continental was one of the best and most distinguished hotels from Barcelona, along with the Ritz and Hotel Oriente. Later in 1952, the owners acquired the beside building, where it is placed nowadays, to extend the hotel.
It is interesting to mention that Hotel Continental was the first hotel in Spain with a TV during the 50’, the TV Salon. During these years Hotel Continental was also famous for its Automatic Bar, made by the grandfather of the family Malagarriga. It consisted of different machines that worked with coins made by the own hotel: the user had to introduce the coin and then he could directly consume the food or drinks he had chosen before. These types of bars, a big trend in the 1930’s, were one of the precedents of the current self-service machines.
The hotel has also been witness of other historical events, such as the mugging to the Central Bank in 1981, when 5 of the robbers were caught inside in the hotel, when they were running away. Nowadays the hotel is still famous and the family has been able to maintain this historical spirit. Its balconies are also known as a spot for television recording of the Futbol Club Barcelona crowded celebrations in the Canaletes fountain, in Las Ramblas, when the football team wins important matches.