Conversation with Anne Nijstad of Destination BCN
Have you ever walked along a street in a new city, looked into the windows of a house you’ve never visited, and dreamed of staying there for a while? If you have, you’ll love the collection of Barcelona apartments offered by Anne Nijstad, a Dutch former graphic designer who has been in the Spanish city for 20 years. She has taken an Art Nouveau building, and created a collection of homes that bring that dream to life. Just push open the magnificent old wooden door, and you are at home, here in Barcelona!
ANNE NIJSTAD, YOUR BARCELONA PROPERTIES ARE BASED IN THIS OLD AND ELEGANT BUILDING WHICH IS SO TYPICAL OF THE ARCHITECTURE IN BARCELONA. DO YOU KNOW THE STORY OF THE BUILDING?
Anne Nijstad: “Yes indeed, this building is a typical Art Nouveau structure from the beginning of the 20th century, with balcony windows, metallic sculptures and a colorful façade. It was a professional building with offices and a very famous library on the first floor, which makes sense because we are in the university district.
“I fell in love with this building 20 years ago. At this time, I came from Holland where I was a graphic designer in the fashion industry. I renovated only a few apartments with different decorations, a mix between classic and modern, with a personal touch to make guests feel more at home. At this time, it was quite a new idea in Barcelona. The hotels were too classic and boring. In 2015, I met Camila, a former interior designer from Uruguay, with a background in hospitality. Together, we renovated the rest of the building. We now have 14 apartments for short stay, six apartments for longer stay, and a small hotel on the second floor with seven rooms.”
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND, SAY, A HOTEL?
AN: “Here, the idea is very different from a hotel. Every one of our rooms or apartments is different. When you are walking in the street and you look at our building from the sidewalk, it looks like every other building in Barcelona, not like an hotel. Through the windows, you can see different homes. That’s the point. Destination BCN has its own life and personality. Some of my clients stay for a long period, like almost one year. Some of them stay for one night, but everybody feels like they are in a new home in a new city. That’s the idea. So they can enjoy much better the Barcelona way of life.”
LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR DECORATION. WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION?
AN: “Well, first we keep the ancient elements of the building. Like the old wooden doors on each floor, the colorful tiles, the metallic structure of the ancient elevator, the brick walls, etc… All these details give us our color pallet. Sometimes it’s warm, sometimes less… It depends on the floor, the ceiling, the windows. Then we bring our taste in different styles. We want something nice and functional like in our own house. I like the Seventies. Look at this celling! It reminds me of a club from that period, here in an Art Nouveau apartment. I think it’s good to shake everything up. It’s more fun.”
YOU HAVE A LOT OF CLIENTS. DO YOU SEE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CLIENT FROM BOUTIQUEHOMES AND OTHERS?
AN: “A client from BoutiqueHomes knows what he wants. He has chosen the place where he wants to stay with attention. He’s curious about different ways of life, about architecture and decoration. A client from BoutiqueHomes is not everybody. He doesn’t need a place to stay. He wants a place to live a new experience. That’s a good client!”
If you’re visiting Barcelona and would like to stay in one of Anne Nijstad’s apartments, click here.
Main photograph by Léonard Lièvre