Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia in Spain, makes for a fabulous city break where visitors can marvel at Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces, gorge themselves on fresh tapas or simply chill out on one of the city’s nine sandy beaches.
Best Hotels Barcelona
Reminiscent of the iconic Burj Al Arab in Dubai, the five star W Hotel rises out of the sea like a shimmering, silver sail at the end of Barceloneta beach.
The hotel’s location is great for those wanting to experience Barcelona’s beach vibe, with the compromise being a slightly longer trek into the centre of town.
The atmosphere is chic and sexy, and this hotel is definitely for those wanting to be part of the cool, Ibiza scene.
Interior design at the W is sleek and stylish with a bling lobby and minimalist rooms that come with stunning views of the city or Mediterranean.
The places to be seen are the W’s infinity pool or the Eclipse bar and nightclub on the 26th floor, which plays host to top DJs from London and Ibiza. After a cocktail or three, you can head on down to restaurant BRAVO24, run by Michelin starred chef Carlos Abellán.
Rooms will set you back around £400 per night in the summer and £200 per night in the off season.
The Hotel Arts is a luxury five-star hotel located next to Barcelona’s Olympic port overlooking Barceloneta beach and the city centre.
It’s all about the food and service in this hotel which houses five restaurants, including the two Michelin star Enoteca. Service is old school luxury, and design is contemporary.
The hotel also has a good sized outdoor pool, onsite spa and gym facilities.
Rooms have views of the city or the sea; the best ones come with both. A double room will set you back £600 in the high season and around £355 in the low.
Shopaholics will love the Mandarin Oriental, located on Barcelona’s fashionable Passeig de Gràcia and within 5 minutes’ walk of Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.
As you would expect with any Mandarin Oriental hotel, the decor is luxurious and stylish. The facilities are great with an onsite spa and gym and rooftop pool with great views of the city.
Foodies will be more than satisfied by the Madarin’s in-house restaurants. Moments offers innovative Catalan cuisine, while Blanc provides all-day dining. The hotel’s head chef is the world-famous Carme Ruscalleda, the only woman that holds 7 Michelin stars – enough said.
Rooms cost £600 per night in high season and £350 in the low season.
Another luxury hotel located in the designer shopping district of Passeig de Gràcia, the Majestic offers the luxury experience at a more reasonable price.
The iconic, neoclassical building is charming, and the rooms offer a classical decor for guests. There is a spa, fitness centre and rooftop swimming pool, and Las Ramblas is only a ten-minute walk away.
The real bonus is rooms start at around £300 in the high season, which is great value for a luxury hotel this well located.
Located high up on Tibidabo Hill with commanding views overlooking the city of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea, The Gran Hotel La Florida is another five-star hotel with a more reasonable price tag.
The hotel features a Spa by L’Occitan with indoor and outdoor pools. The outdoor terrace and gardens have panoramic views, and there is a free shuttle bus into Barcelona city centre three times a day.
Doubles will set you back between £250 and £300 a night depending on our choice of views.
Located in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona The Grand Hotel Central is housed in an early 20th-century building.
Guests can take in the fantastic views of the Gothic Quarter and Barcelona Cathedral from the hotel’s rooftop infinity pool. The interior design is modern and practical.
Rooms cost £300+ in the high season, which is fairly cheap for such a well-located hotel.
Located on the chic Avenida Tibidabo, the ABaC features a spa and three Michelin star restaurant run by renowned chef Jordi Cruz.
This is more of a boutique hotel with a contemporary feel. The star of the show is definitely the ABaC restaurant.
Rooms start at around £250 per night in the high season.
Best Restaurants Barcelona
Three Michelin restaurant run by the renowned chef Jordi Cruz, ABaC restaurant is one of the most exclusive gourmet restaurants in Barcelona and delivers modernist Catalan cooking.
Red meats and eggs are the specialities in Alba Granados which has made a name for itself as one of Barcelona’s best restaurants. The decor is trendy and wouldn’t go amiss in Shoreditch.
Michelin star restaurant who’s patron Jodi Vilà is a young and seriously talented chef. The theme is definitely ‘elBulliesq’ even if it doesn’t quite hit the same heights. It’s just as hard to get a table so try booking lunch midweek several weeks in advance.
This is one of Barcelona’s top traditional seafood restaurants. Thankfully there are no fancy foams to be found here, just damn good seafood, which has been collected each morning from harbours in Catalunya and Galicia.
This is an excellent paella restaurant in Barceloneta. This is a little more upmarket than most with prices to match.
Book a table downstairs by the kitchen to watch the action.
Rustic? Tick. Lively? Tick. Unpretentious? Tick. Sit yourself down on a bar stool and watch the sizzling spectacle unfold.
Expect rustic Catalan dishes with seafood such as Octopus and Cuttlefish a speciality. This restaurant is popular for good reason, so expect to queue.
Located in the famous Mercat de la Boqueria, this market bar with just 15 stalls is like a fly trap for Barcelona’s gastronauts. The restaurant attracts an eclectic proud from shoppers, to businessmen, to market stall workers.
There is no menu, and you choose your food from whats displayed on the counter. Just how we like it.
If you never made it to elBulli and wanted to sample some of the Adrià magic, get yourself to Tickets, where you can enjoy some of Ferran’s brother, Albert’s creations. Its murder to get a table so book months in advance.
The food, as you would expect, is tapas with a difference.
Best Bars Barcelona
CDLC is a beach club that serves up sushi and an array of international cuisine. By day CDLC is a funky beach club with day beds and sun loungers, and by night the tables are cleared, and CDLC turns into a trendy house club with top international DJs that will have you dancing until the early hours.
Opium is another beach club located just by the Hotel Arts on Barceloneta Beach. There is a restaurant serving up delicious seafood treats, and you can get some seriously good cocktails at the bar.
Opium nightclub hosts top international DJs and has some great VIP table options for those wanting to push the boat out.
The stunning art deco bar is the star of the show at Marmalade, where you can rub shoulders with Barcelona’s groovy set while you drink cocktails in one of the most desirable event locations in the city.
Boadas is Barcelona’s oldest bar, dating back to 1933, and is conveniently located close to Las Ramblas. Dress to impress as you are served an array of cocktails by bartenders in fancy tuxedos.
Housed in a 19th-century mansion, Torre Rosa must be one of the most beautiful bars in Barcelona. Drink classic cocktails in the internal courtyard filled with trees and palms.
Where would James Bond drink if he was in Barcelona? Solange, that’s where. Named after one of Bonds ladies in Casino Royale, Solange is a bling, trendy cocktail bar.
Things to do in Barcelona
If you are into street performers and don’t mind crowds head to Las Ramblas, the main street in Barcelona that dissects the city. It’s a bit too touristy for me, but I can understand the appeal for people that don’t come from a big city like London.
Foodies should visit La Boqueria market, a gastronomic mecca that attracts more than 45,000 visitors a day (yes a day!). You can indulge yourself in cheeses, seafood, charcuterie and more.
Barcelona is full of Gaudí’s amazing gothic architecture. The most famous example is the Cathedral La Sagrada Familia which is due to be completed in 2026 after 150 years of construction!
Although Spain’s most famous artist was from Málaga in the south of Spain, he chose Barcelona as the location for his museum. There are 4,251 of Picasso’s early works on show.
Head down to Barceloneta Beach where you can sunbathe, feast on Paella or party in a selection of beach clubs.
Football fans should try and book a weekend when Barcelona are playing at home. Tickets can usually be purchased on the day of the game unless it’s a huge game such as the El Classico versus Real Madrid. If you aren’t lucky enough to visit when Barcelona are at home, you can still take a stadium tour which is well worth it.