Barcelona's hotel scene has witnessed a rise, characterised by design-minded properties that range from high-end luxury pads to chic, affordable boltholes. Not that you have to head miles out of town to bag a bargain — most hotels are concentrated around the Gothic Quarter and the famous promenade Las Ramblas, or the Eixample, a neighbourhood of tree-lined avenues, chic boutiques and some of Europe’s most show-stopping architecture to boot.
1. Hotel Arts
Best for beach-lovers
One of Barcelona’s greatest assets is its beach, and there’s nowhere better to enjoy it than the city’s original ‘design’ hotel, which opened in 1994 just a pebble’s throw from the sand. Inside this landmark 44-storey tower is contemporary glamour wherever you look, from the oversized chandeliers and marble floors in the lobby to the rooms with their quietly sophisticated taupe and ivory decor, Asprey bathroom products and breathtaking views of the Med. Tuck into two-Michelin-starred fare at the restaurant or unwind in the superb rooftop spa. Bored of the beach? No problem — choose from the hotel’s two outdoor pools instead. Rooms: From €330 (£274).
2. The Neri
Best for romantics
Hidden away down a narrow lane in Barcelona’s historic Gothic Quarter, there’s such a rarefied sense of hush and intimacy at this classy, converted 12th-century townhouse that it’s hard to believe you’re less than five minutes from the hubbub of Las Ramblas. The lobby sets a stylish tone on arrival, with contemporary lighting glowing against a wood-panelled ceiling and a sweeping, medieval stone staircase. The hotel’s 22 rooms have a relaxed, modern feel with ivory walls, vibrant red rugs and luxurious bathrooms, and you’ll find a plunge pool and loungers on the small rooftop terrace. The restaurant, meanwhile, serves up a mean line in Asian fusion fine dining, so there’s no rush to leave the hotel when you get peckish. Rooms: From €270 (£224), room only.
3. Hotel Claris
Best for culture vultures
There can’t be many hotels that have a museum of Pre-Columbian antiquities on the first floor, but that’s precisely what’s on offer just a short walk from the city’s main shopping street of Passeig de Gràcia. No two rooms are the same and in among contemporary four poster beds and stripped wooden floors, you’re just as likely to find other eclectic pieces from the hotel owner’s personal collection including Indian sculptures, Turkish kilims and 18th-century English antiques. Guests also get free access to the Egyptology museum over the road — the Museu Egipci de Barcelona — and afterwards you can book a treatment at the Asian-inspired spa or unwind over sundowners on the rooftop terrace. Rooms: From €240 (£199), room only.
4. Catalonia Portal de l’Àngel
Best for shopaholics
Barcelona is a wonderland for shoppers, and this converted 19th-century palacio sits right on one of the city’s most central, pedestrianised shopping streets. The building’s centrepiece is its magnificent marble staircase, and the 84 rooms are roomy with chic, contemporary decor in grey and black, and black-and-white photos of the city printed onto the glass bathroom doors. After some retail therapy, lie back and luxuriate in the spacious hotel patio garden or cool down in the outdoor pool. Rooms: From €110 (£91), B&B.
5. Room Mate Emma
Best for retro fans
Amid Eixample’s elegant streets and Gaudi’s masterpieces on Passeig de Gràcia, RoomMate Emma stands out from the crowd. Step inside and you’ll find its 56 rooms are similarly striking, like something from a 1960s James Bond set — think white walls, pod-style tables and bold magenta carpets.
They’re all geared up for remote working, too, with wi-fi and USB ports. Beds are supremely comfy and the bathroom products come in recycled plastic pump dispensers. Rooms: From €119 (£99).
6. Praktik Garden
Best for bargain hunters
Less than 15 minutes’ walk from Plaça de Catalunya, in Barcelona’s hip Passeig de Sant Joan neighbourhood, this 43-room hotel is a steal. Quirky decor comes courtesy of Catalonia’s top hotel designer, Lázaro Rosa-Violán (who also designed the Barcelona Edition): rooms are full of graphic prints and corridors are lined with wallpaper inspired by 1930s circus posters. The original building dates to the 19th century and while the rooms aren’t massive, they feature high ceilings, rain showers and french doors opening out to balconies. There’s no breakfast, but you can linger over complimentary tea and coffees until midday in the cosy library and plant-filled terrace. Rooms: From €52 (£43).
7. Yurbban Passage
Best for urbanites
Less than 10 minutes’ walk from Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, this 19th-century former textiles factory has been given a new lease of life as buzzing place to stay. There’s a relaxed, party vibe with a shuffleboard table and photo booth in the lounge and a subtle New York feel to the rooms, with white walls and deluxe white cotton bedding. Yoga mats, eco-friendly bathroom products and recycled cardboard clothes hangers are all a given. There’s also a vegan spa, a rooftop terrace with plunge-pool and bar, and don’t miss the delicious breakfast buffet. Rooms: From €135 (£112), B&B.
8. Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
Best for money-makers
Look up at the Banker’s Bar and you’ll find a ceiling lined with original steel deposit boxes. This was once a central bank, though the building is now earning its keep as one of Barcelona’s top hotels, sitting pretty on the modernist Passeig de Gràcia. The 100 rooms are truly sumptuous, decked out in warm-toned wood, blacks and teal, and there are three top-notch restaurants as well as a rooftop pool and spa to unwind in. It’s surprisingly family-friendly for such an exclusive spot; book one of the larger suites and they’ll even set up a tipi and complimentary soft toys in your room. Rooms: From €523 (£433).
9. Barcelona Edition
Best for hedonists
DJ sets on the roof terrace, nightclub in the basement, designer interiors — if you fancy dancing away your stay in Barcelona, this place has it all. Expect all the smart hallmarks of hotel guru Ian Schrager’s Edition family, from the parlour palms and a contemporary soundtrack at destination restaurant and bar Veraz to the sleek Gaudí- and Dalí-designed chairs in the 100 rooms. Head up to the rooftop terrace for some truly stunning views across the city skyline or set out to explore the area — the Santa Caterina Market, with its famous wavy roof, is next door and the Gothic Quarter’s cathedral is just moments away. Rooms: From €352 (£292).
10. Hotel 1898
Best for city sophisticates
This 19th-century former tobacco factory on Las Ramblas has been transformed in a truly grand stay. There’s a serious, grown-up vibe throughout, from the marble-pillared entrance hall — stuccoed ceiling and all — to the bar, with its parquet flooring and gentleman’s club-style armchairs. Rooms are similarly plush in dark crimson hues and mahogany-toned wooden floors, but it’s the hotel’s two pools that might just win you over — one on the rooftop with views of the Barcelona skyline and another in the chic spa. Rooms: From €120 (£100).
Published in the Jul/Aug 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
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