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Independent Minds: Pau Guardans, Único Hotels

Born and bred in Barcelona, the rich cultural heritage of the Catalan capital runs in the blood of Pau Guardans, owner of Único Hotels. With a penchant for the Art Deco era, Guardans has carefully cultivated his own Spanish empire of reimagined early 20th century buildings in Barcelona and Madrid, which have been elegantly modernised whilst keeping the glamour of the roaring twenties very much alive. Taking a more serene step into Balearic island life with his latest venture in Mallorca, the Único Hotels portfolio is proving to be just as panoramic as its hotels’ views.

From Grand Hotel Central in the arty El Born district of Barcelona, The Principal Madrid Hotel on the edge of fashionable Gran Vía, and Hotel Único Madrid taking prime position in the prestigious Salamanca district, to the white-washed walls of Finca Serena in the bucolic Mallorcan countryside, Guardans has not only selected some of the most sought-after Spanish destinations, but made his hotels landmarks in their own right.

Neoclassical columns, sweeping staircases, and marble mosaic floors sit beside contemporary, cosmopolitan design details to create the signature Único urban grandeur. Paring this back slightly to reflect the rustic simplicity of rural Mallorca, the natural fabrics and neutral interiors of Finca Serena still bear the effortless style and sophistication inherent in all Único properties.

What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as an hotel owner mean to you?

Luxury is defined in many different ways: attention to detail, things being done well, and of course, looking after our guests in ways that are unique and inimitable. Each hotel and every destination has unique characteristics and experiences that can be adapted to fit guests’ needs. Because of this, we shy away from standardisation and one size fits all, and instead offer a management style that creates bespoke hotel experiences for each individual guest.

What was the inspiration behind your hotels, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?

Every one of our hotels is the shaping of a dream into reality. Behind every project is imagination, enthusiasm, passion and a deep desire to share our own experiences with our guests: a passion for travel, the discovery of new things and a love of beauty.

How do you think your hotels stand apart from other boutique hotels?

A hotel should be faithful to its personality. The identity it is given by its location and architecture, its history and the local community, ultimately shapes its destiny. This combination, if you nurture and care for it, is inimitable and above all, completely authentic.

If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for the Único experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?

Get to know the team at the hotel. Discover the immediate neighbourhood. Seek the things that are authentic to place. A hotel is a doorway into a world of experiences specific to that destination. Everything should become a memory you will cherish forever: the food, the cocktails, well-being and of course, exceptional service and décor.

How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?

Every day I become more frustrated with pretension, artifice and the homogenisation of everything. I place most value in discovering something artistic, simple but well made (it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be beautiful) and in honouring the person that made it. For me, this is ‘authentic luxury’.

Do you have a vision for the future of your hotels?

Every day can be a new experience. Our passion for this never rests, so we are able to offer our guests new possibilities every day. Just as the seasons change, so too do our tastes and expectations. The only constant for us is to maintain excellence throughout.