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An Affair to Remember

Written by
Lyn Yip
March 17, 2018

Just 30 minutes from Barcelona’s city center, where the edges become green, lies the quiet stately structure of Antiga Biblioteca Almirall, the old private library of Valentì Almirall. Almirall was an impassioned figure of the Renaixença and considered one of the fathers of Catalanism. A man of letters, he founded Diari Catalanà, the first newspaper published in the Catalan language in 1879.

Today, the library is home to a genial Colombian-Norwegian family, the sort of family that brims with an openness and curiosity one aspires to. Martha and Øyvin came upon the property in 1999, promptly fell in love with it, and dedicated the following 18 years of their lives to the careful restoration of the building and its gardens.

We particularly love the convivial image of the family, nomadic in their own home, moving from room to room with their four children who grew up within this labor of love, weaving through scaffolding, bricks, and cement veiled with a fine layer of dust.


With their home coming together in 2011, the family set off on a 14-month trip around the world and returned filled with sights and sounds, their taste for adventure and appetite for life ever stronger.

Libraries have always been a haven for those to whom travel is a state and not merely an action. Journeys are often launched from the pages of books, and it is to the pages that we return, seeking to continue our wayfaring dreams when we find the world just as we left it. In the same way, Martha and Øyvin decided to turn their home into an ongoing journey filled with nourishing experiences and beautiful encounters. And so they opened their doors to the possibility of a world without strangers, to share passions, celebrations, and creative projects.


Since the opening of the home as a venue for special events, the spacious light-filled reading room of Antiga Biblioteca Almirall has seen intimate chamber music concerts, a jubilant gathering of yogis, and elegant corporate events for companies such as Patek Philippe and Spotify. The space is constantly evolving to offer new inspiration to guests, and for the sheer pleasure of interior design and decoration, a great passion of the family.

The ground floor of this home is its gastronomic center, marked by a gourmet kitchen whose design is clearly guided by a love of cooking, and a generous dining area. In-house chefs have willingly shared their culinary secrets around the sleek kitchen island, and wedding feasts have spilled from the dining room into the property’s lush shaded gardens, cooled in the summer by its pool overlooking the best sunsets of Barcelona.


The family host their guests like long lost friends, offering their many talents to explore ideas and taking the time to ensure that every event unfolds exactly as desired. We love their personal, refreshingly human touch and their attention to detail, approaching each event like an invitation into their home. Which indeed it is!

To book a stay at Antiga Biblioteca Almirall, click here. To book an event, click here.