I recently visited Barcelona as part of a cruise. I had never been and was only there for one full day. But I’m telling you, I fell head over heels in love. The architecture, the food, the nightlife. I am already trying to plan a trip back. I’ve got Tapas on the brain!
Before I went I enlisted the help of friend and fellow blogger over at Barcelona Experience to help plan a jam-packed itinerary for me. I was only in Barcelona for 24 hours so I had to plan smart. The recommendations I got did not disappoint! As soon as things calm down around here, I promise to share what I saw with you! Since my time was limited, I mostly stuck to must-see attractions for first-timers. But I asked my buds at Barcelona Experience what their top five picks were in Barcelona to experience the best luxury it has to offer. They did not lead me astray with their suggestions for my last trip so I can’t wait to check out these sites when I return and have a bit more time to enjoy the luxuries Barcelona has to offer. Here’s what they had to say:
Barcelona has come a long way since the 1992 Summer Olympics. Once a thoroughly Catalán city with litter-strewn beaches and only minimal appeal, the regional capital is now a tourist hotspot, cosmopolitan king and home to some amazing luxury experiences.
Beyond the gravitational pull of Las Ramblas is a fantastic network of hotels, terraces and restaurants fit for even the most discerning traveler.
1. Casa Fuster’s Jazz Night
Barcelona’s version of Fifth Avenue is Passeig de Gracia, a wide street that makes its way from the ever-popular Plaza Catalunya to the doors of the historic Casa Fuster hotel. All the while Gucci, Prada, Bulgari and Louis Vuitton usher you along.
Casa Fuster is home to a Moet & Chandon-sponsored Thursday night jazz session that is a favorite of legendary director Woody Allen, who wields his clarinet on occasion. The jazz night begins at 9 p.m. A superb gastronomic menu includes the Duke Ellington Dinner, a masterul orchestration of an aperitivo, a grilled lobster salad, steak topped with goat cheese and a red pepper emulsion and an elaborate dessert crafted by the Fuster’s pastry chef. A 1⁄2 bottle of Moet & Chandon adds to the charm of the dinner and music.
2. Spend a night in the Mercer Hotel
The Mercer is the ultimate luxury hotel experience in Barcelona. With front-of-house staff of 12 people and a total of 28 rooms, attentive service is the specialty of this newcomer to the Barcelona 5-Star Grand Luxury hotel category. The Mercer is the #1-rated hotel in Barcelona on TripAdvisor.
The back half of the hotel is integrated into a wall built by the Romans 2,000 years ago. Rooms ending in “7” are housed in a guard tower that Roman soldiers used to keep watch over the city’s northern flanks. A medieval fresco highlights the ceiling and walls of a private dining room. Spanish culinary rock star Jean Luc Figueres heads the hotels trio of restaurants – two are on-site and one is off-site. Le Bouchoun is the hotel’s casual offering, where guests can enjoy delicious tapas from the Michelin-starred Figueres while watching cooks prepare the evening’s menu.
3. Meet the Young Elite at WET deck
W Barcelona is perhaps the city’s most famous hotel. It’s striking, sail-like profile cuts into the Barcelona skyline with the swagger and style of the design-centric hotel chain. During the summer, the W hosts their WET Deck Summer Series, a music-driven, seen-and-be-seen party where the city’s young elite gather to network and meet until the early hours of the morning.
The party starts at 8 p.m every Sunday at the hotel’s WET deck. At midnight the party moves to Club Eclipse, where revelers can enjoy spectacular 26th-floor views. VIP tables with bottle service range from 300€ for a quartet to 750€ for 12 people.
4. Take in a meal at AbaC
Barcelona is home to an ever-growing list of Michelin-starred restaurants. Most exciting of them all is AbaC, a two-star gastronomic wonder headed by young Catalán chef Jordi Cruz. The restaurant may be Barcelona’s best bet for a three-star establishment in 2015.
Cruz’s AbaC tasting menu features an impressive lineup of dishes featuring his trademark Catalán flair. The menu starts light with a coconut and passion fruit shake with coriander pineapple and rum, then jumps right into a classic European favorite – foie-gras foccacia and foie-gras butter with crubmled sweet corn and molé ice cream.
The AbaC menu is 135€. A wine pairing is available for 65€.
5. Enjoy a cocktail at El Palace Hotel’s bar
Just a few blocks off the busy boulevard of Passeig de Gracia, the El Palace Hotel stands proudly like the classic European property that it is. Built by César Ritz (yes, that Ritz,) in 1919, the El Palace holds the distinction of being a 5-Star Grand Luxury hotel longer than any other property in the city. Dalí often stayed at the El Palace. His quirky ways were evident in a story told by the hotel’s Director of Sales, who said Dali once requested a live horse be brought to his room. (I’m obsessed with Dali! Remember the funny stories of his stay at Le Meurice in Paris?)
The grandeur of the El Palace is at its best in the magnificent sitting area that leads to the bar. The elegant European décor was hand-selected during the hotel’s recent renovation. Each piece of Italian fabric, each lamp and each piece of furniture is an authentic remnant of the era in which the hotel was built. The hotel’s Hall Bar is run by a white-suited barman who recently invented the Salvador Dalí, a fruit-forward house cocktail created with the famous painter in mind.