Barcelona is a city of tremendous charm, design and history. It housed Spanish impressionist painter Pablo Picasso’s home and studio for many years and it is not hard to see why. The city is constantly reinventing itself and is home to numerous world-class restaurants, a superb array of chic hotels and too many tapas bars to mention. Our concierge experts select the city’s current hotspots.
First up, we visited the recently unveiled, overwhelmingly beautiful Cotton House Hotel, located in the prestigious former Association of Cotton House Manufacturers headquarters on Gran via de les Corts. Built in the late 19th century, the building has been meticulously restored and converted into an 83-bedroom luxury hotel by celebrated Spanish interior designer Lazaro Rosa-Violan. Ornate triple-height ceilings and grand marble staircases are juxtaposed with eclectic 1950s light fittings and Picasso-esque contemporary art from popular Catalan painters such as Josep-Maria Garcia Llort. The hotel’s first floor restaurant, Batuar, offers a spectacular menu of modern Mediterranean cuisine in a bright, informal dining hall overlooking an expansive 300 sq-m terrace. Our main courses were both inventive and exceptional; charcoal grilled monkfish served with vanilla-seasoned onions, cockles and lemongrass, and a heavenly sole fillet accompanied by a wild rice cracker. The 6th floor houses a lap pool, sun terrace, and mini-spa complete with treatment rooms, so guests can rest assured they will be looked after.
Pre-dinner cocktails atop the smart, buzzy Hotel Yurbban Trafalgar or Hotel Omm are a must for those who enjoy lazing away the early evening high above the city skyline. Dine at the much talked about and recently launched El Nacional food hall, on buzzy Passeig de Gracia, where the city’s cool crowd sip on chilled cava and share modern tapas in the former newspaper factory.
Celebrations must be held at the uber-stylish Boca Grande restaurant & lounge on the Passatge de la Concepcio, where a modern Spanish menu specialises in seafood and fish, and offers locally sourced ingredients to a backdrop of vivid design. The sleek, moody Boca Chica lounge serves a curated list of international cocktails to the city’s hot young things.
Barcelona’s Mandarin Oriental hotel is located on the trendy Passeig de Gracia, and houses 82 beautifully designed bedrooms and suites, a Michelin-starred restaurant, Moments, headed up by Spain’s most decorated chef, Carme Ruscalleda, and signature spa, where spa packages and treatments can be tailored to suit each guest’s specific requirements. Swimmers will adore the 12-metre lap pool. The sophisticated ground floor Banker’s Bar is well worth a visit – light tapas plates and an expertly curated cocktail list are served against a backdrop of silver and black interiors.
A brisk stroll in the afternoon sun along trendy Barceloneta to the extraordinary Hotel Arts, which was built in 1992 to coincide with the opening of the Olympic Games, and whose brutalist construction marked the turn in fortunes for Barcelona, which transformed itself from sleepy seaside city to its current incarnation of world-class luxury destination. The hotel’s 483 bedrooms, suites and apartments afford unrivalled vistas to the sea and city. The hotel contains too many treats to mention, but one in particular is Enoteca, two Michelin-starred chef Paco Perez’s beautiful dining room, which offers a modern take on Mediterranean dining with a particular focus on local, high quality ingredients and seafood.
History, art and an ultra-sleek modern design are combined at the brand new Hotel The Serras. The boutique luxury hotel, located in the city’s Gothic Quarter, offers 28 beautifully appointed bedrooms and suites – all thoughtfully reinterpreted by local Catalan designers. The rooftop and cocktail lounge offers a chic, spacious destination to get away from the hustle and bustle, and affords eye-watering vistas of the newly launched Marina Port Vell. Art collectors will be overjoyed to learn that The Serras’ building originally housed Picasso’s first studio back in 1896.
Typically, the city’s marina struggled to cope with the ever-increasing demand for larger yachts; however, now, with investment from a London-based firm, Marina Port Vell has launched complete with the superb luxury members’ only OneOcean Club. The Club, which NINE’s members have exclusive access to, houses a triple-height restaurant, a delightful cocktail lounge, Bluewave, with a west-facing terrace - perfect for lazy, early evening sundowners. A gym, spacious crew lounge and in-house spa complete the offering. The marina can accommodate berths from 30m up to 120m.
Located adjacent to the Passeig de Gracia, renowned interior designer, Jaime Beriestain, has married modern design and comfort with a smart café, all housed within a grand, warehouse-style lifestyle boutique. An absolute must-visit for serious design enthusiasts and window-shoppers alike.
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