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Four volumes of SUITCASE Magazine, with a new issue delivered to your door each quarter
Barcelona has always been something of a rebel. You can see it in the city’s ornamental modernist buildings, in its complex politics and the abundance of bars that buzz as the Spanish sun sinks for another day. Today the Catalan capital is evolving into one of Europe’s meeting points for those who dream of a life by the sea, and it’s this influx of people that has seen the creative scene flourish while Catalan culture grows more defiant. As a result, the city’s neighbourhoods have never been more defined: Sant Antoni is the clear epicurean quarter, industrial El Poblenou is where the cool cats are at, and leafy Gracia’s flourishing independent businesses and alfresco bars retain its village feel. This all makes for a very exciting exploration of Spain’s most sultry city.
Yurbban is the urban hotel that knows what the modern traveller wants: compact rooms with comfy beds, a sumptuous locally sourced breakfast buffet served on the patio, a carefully curated app to keep guests up to date with Barcelona’s best bars, restaurants and cultural venues and, to top it off, an opulent roof terrace serving up some of the best views money can buy. Don’t miss the DJ nights and pool parties on the terrace throughout summer.
In the lively Eixample district, Claris Hotel & Spa reigns supreme. While the hotel is located in the Palau Vedruna, a former palace dating back to the 19th century, it’s the interior decor that most come to admire. The hotel’s first floor hosts a museum showcasing Pre-Columbian art, while original artwork adorns the rooms, each with furnishings designed to complement the pieces. If that doesn’t tempt you, perhaps La Terraza del Claris, an innovative Mediterranean restaurant with views over the city, will do the trick.
This understated hotel doesn’t need to shout about its five-star status. Arrive to a tray of refreshments that includes chocolate and sparkling Spanish wine before cooling down in the pool while watching grand yachts moor at Port Vell. Dine on refreshing ceviche on the roof or head to restaurant Informal, helmed by chef Marc Gascons. At the latter, the required dress code and atmosphere live up to the restaurant’s “informal” name – but the food does not. Seasonal, Catalan dishes strike gold every time. Opt for the honeyed potato gnocchi with butter sauce and black winter truffle.
Casa Mathilda was formerly the residence of one of the most prominent Catalan textile-manufacturing families. Within easy walking distance of La Sagrada Família and La Pedrera, this boutique bed and breakfast is designed to feel homely, with simple, delicate touches that welcome you in after a long day exploring the city. Wake to traditional pá amb tomáquet – bread rubbed with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and salt – and a breakfast spread including freshly baked bread from famed bakery Baluard.
Just off the famed boulevard of Passeig de Gràcia, Almanac is perfectly positioned for a shop and flop – a “flop” being a tranquil evening spent sampling cocktails on the hotel’s rooftop terrace. Visit the restaurant Línia between 4pm and 7pm for L’Hora Dolca, during which pastry chef Lucila Canero offers up a carefully crafted selection of desserts. Retire to your room for a much-needed siesta; muted interiors, a king-size bed, an Ibizan marble bathroom and rainfall shower have never looked so inviting.
Before Airbnb there were just straight B&Bs and this is one of them. Bed & Break is made up of nine rooms set over two floors in a modernist residential building typical of Barcelona, close to Passeig de Gràcia (prime location). All rooms have high ceilings, design details and comfortable beds, but you do get what you pay for – the €85 per night rooms have very little natural light and are a tad musty. It’s a B&B experience – there’s no lift, some bathrooms have handheld showers and you’ll have to arrange check-in time with the owner Ivan – but it has the attention to design detail you might expect from a small boutique hotel. Positives include a daily cleaning service and a kitchen stocked with all the basics. Book through Chateaux Hotels.
Housed within a sun washed 1869 mansion in Dreta de l’Eixample, Casa Bonay presents an authentic portrait of Barcelona by showcasing local brands and promoting homegrown talent. It’s a hotel but there’s also a coffee roaster, independent book store, 24-hour shop, rooftop chiringuito and a two-in-one restaurant all under one roof. You’ll also find a garden terrace with a series of outdoor showers and hammocks. The hotel’s founder, Inés Miró-Sans, worked for the Ace Hotel group for three years and there are design-led nods to her time there, such as the bar and lounge named Libertine, which is painted a deep shade of green with dimmed lighting, a black concrete floor and a scattering of rattan chairs. With a cosy living-room feel, come night you’re just as likely to find one of the hotel’s 70-year-old neighbours sipping on a strong cocktail as you are a millennial tourist. For late night frolicking, head next door to hotel’s brand new club, Nice.
Located in the hillside hood of Poble-sec, Hotel Brummell is part of a neighbourhood revamp that has seen trendy bars and restaurants crop up in the area. The hotel’s sleek and minimalist design features a metal staircase which zigzags down the back of the property beside a pool deck housing a rooftop pool surrounded by sun beds and yellow parasols. There’s a running club, a yoga studio and a list of local recommendations given to guests daily – Brummell might not look anything like the family homes that surround it, but it remains a spot with strong ties to the community.
Despite being in one of Barcelona’s prime locations – bang in the middle of Passeig de Gràcia and directly opposite Gaudí’s Casa Batlló – Margot House doesn’t shout about it. Hidden on the first floor of a residential building, this hotel was named after Margot Tenenbaum and is every bit as cool as the Wes Anderson character. Made up of nine rooms and a large open-plan communal space with a living room, dining area, honesty bar and kitchen (for tea, coffee and cakes) the hotel feels like home. And we wish it was – with materials like raw concrete, light-hued wood and marble table tops, the Scandi and Japanese-style design couldn’t be more appealing. Splashes of colour come in the form of wild flowers and hanging plants.
Tucked between the winding narrow streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and built into the ancient Roman walls that once enclosed the city, the Mercer combines the neighbourhood’s medieval heritage with minimalist style. While first-century columns and restored frescoes have been updated by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, a glass-walled courtyard, orb-like lights and a colourful 70s-style bar create a contemporary vibe. This is an adult hideaway with old-school service to match – expect a turndown service with locally made chocolates and the next day’s weather forecast on your pillow.
We probably don’t need to tell you that the Mandarin Oriental is an opulent option which comes with a hefty price tag. What we will tell you, however, is that the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona has one of the best rooftops in the city, with a priceless view over the Sagrada Família church and Gaudi’s Casa Batlló. The rooms are classic and chic with lots of natural light flooding in (a big plus in Barcelona) and a private terrace or balcony in each. The communal spaces are where the Mandarin outdoes others. Glamorous and stylish, the hotel incorporates Gaudí’s gothic style into the heart of its design.
This long awaited outpost of Nick Jones’s illustrious members club opened its doors in 2016 and houses the usual luxuries of a vintage style gym, rooftop pool and bijou velvet cinema – all open to both members and hotel guests. The 57 bedrooms combine the brand’s signature cosy luxury with a stylish Catalan flair, felt in the original mosaic floors and vaulted, red brick ceilings. Make sure to take advantage of the Sunday Feast brunch at the on-site Cecconi’s restaurant – with everything from oysters to crispy suckling pig, it’s an indulgence which cannot be missed.
With a shimmering rooftop pool, stately library and on-site shirt tailoring service, this former Textiles Factory has many luxurious touches. But it is the majestic entrance hall which really sets it apart. Two contrasting staircases, one an imposing white marble, the other a contemporary spiral suspended from 6 floors above, set the tone for the hotel’s perfect blend of 19th century Catalan bourgeois and modern opulence. The 83 rooms range from modest to massive and offer easy access to the Batuar restaurant and lush patio terrace.
It may seem like the stuff of childhood dreams, but at this hip hotel you really can wake up in a bakery, thanks to Praktik Hotels’ genius collaboration with Barcelona bread legends, Baluard. Breakfast on buttery brioche and glistening piles of pastries, while watching the kneading and folding action through one of the giant kitchen windows. While the rooms are petite, the beds are huge – allowing you a solid kip before making the most of the hotel’s enviable central location just off Paseig de Gracia.
The white leather sofas and parquet floors of Pulitzer’s lobby ooze city chic, accentuated by the slick bunch of Brompton bicycles standing to attention by the door. The hotel attracts a surprisingly cool clientele for somewhere with such proximity to the tourist trappings of Las Ramblas, with the rooftop bar overflowing with both discerning locals and well-heeled tourists. Join the Instagram set for dinner among the palms of the frondy Greenhouse restaurant, or pop next door to La Esquina for a cosy weekend brunch.
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
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