This hotel, opened by the Cuyas family from Catalonia in 1862 on Great Jones Street and Broadway, would be all over the front pages of New York papers just a few years later (1866), when the story of a grisly murder –and the ensuing trial and execution of the alleged culprits– gripped the city. The case involved Cubans, Spaniards, boarders and workers at the Hotel Barcelona, and was known as the “Otero Murder.” The Times had also covered the hotel’s grand opening in the happier days of 1862:
The numerous, respectable, and rapidly increasing Spanish population of this City can at length congratulate themselves upon the existence of a hotel worthy of their pretensions as a refined and elegant people. There have been several Spanish houses established in the vicinity of upper Broadway, but none of these ever reached the grade of the Hotel de Barcelona, just opened to the public at No. 23 Great Jones-street, by A. CUYAS, Esq., a gentleman widely and favorably known to Spanish-American society.
A spacious and lofty double mansion, refitted with every modern appliance of comfort, and adorned inside and outside with exquisite taste, the house offers a rare, combination of attractions to the Spanish sojourner in New-York. The proprietor and attendants are all Spaniards by birth, yet speak the English and French languages, and are active and polite in their service. All the arrangements of the establishment are complete and convenient, and the site is one of the most respectable and quiet in the Metropolis.
The new Hotel was handsomely, illuminated and thrown open for the first time, on Tuesday evening. About 8 P.M., a select party of ladies and gentlemen sat down to a neat collation in a superbly lighted dining-hall, and half an hour was pleasantly spent with interchange of sentiments, speeches, &c.
The 34 apartments which compose the chamber range of the “Barcelona” are already taken, Gen. COBUS, Madame OSORIO, the widow of the distinguished Spanish General of that name, and other eminent Mexican’s and Spaniards being among the guests. The cuisine and cellar are to be altogether Spanish and French.
New York Times, October 16, 1862