Vista Terraza Restaurante at ABaC, Barcelona

ABaC

ABaC offers subdued elegance and a refuge from the bustle of downtown Barcelona. Housed in two buildings, an historic landmark and its modern neighbor, ABaC comprises 15 rooms, a Michelin-starred restaurant and an Elemis spa – all set within a verdant, welcoming garden. Located on Avenida Tibidabo, in the neighborhood where Barcelona’s bourgeoisie built their mansions over a century ago, the hotel is a short taxi or metro ride from downtown.

ABaC’s historic building was the home of Catalan art patron Madronita Andreu, whose American husband, Max Klein, was the U.S. Ambassador to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The building served as the U.S. Embassy during the only time in history that Barcelona housed a national embassy. Today the 15 rooms and suites exude understated luxury, decorated in muted colors, hand-carved blond wood furniture, and featuring rain showers, impossibly comfortable beds and exacting attention to detail. The rooms are not excessively spacious, yet with large windows overlooking the trees, they feel airy and open. The most popular guest room is, in fact, the smallest, as it opens onto a spacious private terrace.

ABaC’s two Michelin-starred restaurant was called the best in Catalonia in 2011. Guests are welcome to walk through the kitchen to see the work of star chef Jordi Cruz, once the youngest Michelin-starred Spanish chef.

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Bedroom at Casa Camper, Barcelona, Spain

Casa Camper Barcelona

“Extras” like bikes, a private lounge/day-room for every guest room and fresh and healthy food items available throughout the day are all part of the standard room rate at Casa Camper Barcelona. With just 40 rooms, the property has a warm familial vibe (guests seem to naturally smile and say ‘hello’ to each other at breakfast and in the elevator) that is reinforced by the helpful and knowledgeable staff. Though Casa Camper is intentionally unostentatious, you can rest assured that everything here is of the highest quality.

Though it is just a two-minute walk from Las Ramblas, the small and crooked Carrer d’Elisabets in the historic Raval quarter feels worlds away from the noisy and crowded main drag. The 19th century building was converted into a hotel in 2005 and feels very much integrated into the real city, as it is conveniently located just a few blocks from the city’s contemporary art museum, MACBA.

The Camper brand (founded and still run by a Mallorcan family with over 100 years of experience in shoemaking) has winningly applied its footwear credo—true luxury is ease and simplicity—to the travel experience. Small, but well-thought-out details create an overall civilized and relaxing environment. For example, instead of tiny plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles, Camper’s unbranded bath products are in large refillable dispensers. Similarly, instead of stocking each room with a minibar full of unhealthy and expensive snacks, the hotel offers fresh salads, yogurts, fruit, and sandwiches in the self-serve lobby cantina, 24 hours a day, free of charge.

The design of the hotel is also simple and practical; luxurious without being lavish. The red, white, and black decorated rooms are spacious, yet sparsely appointed with industrial-chic accessories like Tolomeo bedside lamps, hammocks, and Shaker-inspired wall hooks (an ingenious solution for keeping items in easy reach without causing clutter.) Handwriting-inspired typography throughout the hotel playfully communicates useful information everywhere from the elevator to the shower knobs. The naturally lit bathrooms have large windows that look onto a vertical garden comprised of over 100 potted aspidistra plants.

Though the Casa Camper roof does not have a pool or a bar like other luxury hotels in Barcelona, it is still a lovely place to enjoy the view over the Raval neighborhood and boasts tables, lounge chairs and a small herb garden. With some nuts and olives from the lobby cantina, this becomes a great spot to relax—like your own personal roof deck. The small basement level gym features state-of-the-art equipment and a sauna.

Suite at Cotton House Hotel, Barcelona, Spain

Cotton House Hotel

Located in the elegant Eixample neighborhood, the stunning Cotton House is fairly close to Barcelona's main sites and its central shopping street, Passeig de Gracia. It's an ideal spot for couples seeking a romantic getaway, design aficionados, or those looking for a laid-back vibe and respite from the urban hustle.

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Renaissance style building

El Palace Hotel Barcelona

El Palace Hotel was the first five-star property in Barcelona when it opened as the Ritz in 1919, a date guests will find scattered throughout the hotel. César Ritz—already a savant of grand European city hotels—wanted the neoclassical property to evoke grandeur, and he succeeded: opulence envelops guests the moment they enter the lobby, where an extravagant crystal chandelier hangs from a high gold-lined ceiling and a carpeted grand staircase rises on either side. One need only take a few more steps in to find themselves in the Great Hall, where soaring ceilings, an elaborate red and white carpet and deep emerald columns give the impression that you’ve stepped into a monarch’s reception hall. Which all makes perfect sense, since the hotel was financially supported by then King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenie, and has played host to multiple royal events (along with welcoming music royalty like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, art royalty like Picasso or cinematic royalty like John Wayne and Sofia Loren). El Palace also hosted the fashion shows of Pertegaz and Bastida in the 1940s. All this to say, the hotel has quite the pedigree.

Of the 120 rooms, this culture is perhaps best experienced in one of the six Art Suites, fashioned in 2016 as part of the hotel’s renovation and expansion. Each was inspired by a prominent hotel guest—including Josephine Baker and Salvador Dali—and is infused with their chosen art form (dance, sculpture, literature, etc.). While these suites may possess the most character, the hotel’s transportive feel is present in all rooms, which maintain the sophisticated, neoclassical style from the chandeliers to the candelabras. Bathrooms are spacious with a large walk-in shower, and some rooms have extra gems, like the beautifully tiled green and white Roman bath found in certain rooms and suites. All Junior Suites have a bedroom and living room in a shared space and views of a Barcelona courtyard, while the Superior Suites have a separate bedroom and living room. The family suites sleep up to seven guests in three bedrooms connected by a sitting room.

The day begins with a buffet breakfast in the Jardín, where the black-and-white tiled floors and greenery evoke the sense that you are dining out on a terrace rather than inside. All-day dining, including tapas and seasonal dishes, is offered in the soaring Great Hall, as is afternoon tea. The jewel of El Palace’s dining scene though is AMAR, which opened in spring 2022 and is headed by chef Rafa Zafra. This fine-dining restaurant is set in a distinctly modern space (a departure from the hotel’s style) and its menus take inspiration from Catalan cuisine as well as Mediterranean flavors at large. At night, from Thursday through Saturday, the Bluesman Cocktail bar is a popular, 1920s speakeasy-inspired space done in red velvet and gold patterned carpeting, with a glittering mirror ball at the head of the room. Reservations here are needed in advance.

A highlight of a stay at El Palace is spending time in the rooftop garden, where drinks and snacks are served beneath one of two whimsical pergolas, one of which offers views of the Sagrada Familia. There is a small rooftop pool, lined on one side with plants to continue the garden theme and on the other with a dining space for the pop-up restaurant. The garden changes themes with the seasons, donning orange blossoms in the fall and twinkle lights in the winter, and three times a year (summer, Halloween and Christmas), guests can enjoy a movie night on the 360-degree terrace—which is open year round anyway for the sake of enjoying the views. El Palace also has an immersive luxury spa inspired by Maya rituals and culture and complimented with Anne Semonin products.

Note: El Palace Hotel Barcelona is pet -friendly.

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Exterior view -  Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona, Spain

Gran Hotel La Florida

Overlooking Barcelona from atop Mt. Tibidabo, the Florida was the city’s most glamorous hotel in the 1950s, hosting everyone from Europe’s royals to Ernest Hemingway and James Stewart. The property was completely renovated some years ago, and today it surpasses even its former glory. Located about 20 minutes outside town, the hotel is best for repeat visitors. If you have a few lazy days, there’s nothing more fabulous than to lounge by the stainless-steel pool with Barcelona at your feet.

In general, the rooms are generously sized, though the Tibidabo and Sky Terrace suites are worth the splurge. The former was designed by Cristina Macaya and features a fantastic silver color scheme; the latter was dreamed up by international artist Rebecca Horn and offers a spacious private patio with a Jacuzzi and unbeatable views.

Those based in the city can visit for brunch or dinner at a table on the outdoor terrace.

Pool Lounge at Hotel Arts Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain - Courtesy Matthew Shaw

Hotel Arts Barcelona

American travelers tend to complain that it’s difficult to find top service in Spain. It’s usually true that many of the country’s five-star hotels are not on par with those we’re accustomed to in the U.S. A real exception in Barcelona is the Hotel Arts, a Ritz-Carlton property, which has 483 rooms and is located in the Olympic Port by the sea. It’s the hotel of choice for international business people as well as famous visitors like Pierce Brosnan who usually book one of the VIP Apartments (these duplex suites on the top floors of the hotel offer twenty-four-hour butlers and amazing views of the city). There is also 43 The Spa, located on the forty-second and forty-third floors. Another perk: the outdoor pool has a great view of Frank Gehry’s steel fish sculpture.

Although the Mandarin Oriental lures many luxury travelers, the Hotel Arts remains a fantastic choice for visitors, particularly those with children, who want more of a resort experience. The hotel’s rooms are spacious, many with sea or mountain views, and stylish and comfortable with a soft color palate. The hotel is huge, so it’s worth upgrading to the Club Level or one of the recently renovated apartments, both of which have their own concierge and more personalized service. (A member who recently stayed in one of the apartments called them “spectacular.”) Families will also appreciate the ability to feed tired kids in the club lounge at an earlier dinner hour than Spaniards keep. The pool and the outdoor spaces—large, green grounds ideal for children to run around on and great outdoor dining areas—are fabulous. There are even hammocks scattered around for those looking to curl up with a book. Although the location isn’t as convenient as some of the properties on the Passeig de Gracia, taxis are available at all hours, and guests can be anywhere in the city in under ten minutes.

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Junior Suite with Terrace at Hotel Neri, Barcelona, Spain - courtesy Hotel Neri Junior suite with terrace

Hotel Neri

This intimate four-star hotel, hidden in the Jewish quarter of the Barri Gòtic, is housed in a small 18th-century palace. Since it’s located within a pedestrian-only zone, guests must be dropped off at Plaça d’Antoni Maura and walk a few minutes to get there. Once you arrive, however, you’ll forgive the nuisance. The Neri’s beautifully restored exterior contains a luxurious interior: stone floors and walls, velvet couches and crystal chandeliers.

The 22 rooms have dramatic silk drapes and all-glass shower stalls. The thick stones walls keep out most noise, but the most peaceful room is 305. Neri’s “library,” decorated with velvet couches and glass chandeliers, is a groovy place to relax and peruse a selection of art books, novels, and travel magazines. Make sure to have at least one meal in the hotel’s tiny restaurant where the talented chef Sergio Ruiz successfully mixes traditional ingredients with modern techniques.

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lounge with a black and white tiles wall and colorful chairs

Kimpton Vividora Barcelona

Set in the Gothic Quarter, Kimpton Vividora is the epitome of a hip boutique property, catering primarily to young couples.

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 Suite at Majestic Hotel & Spa, Barcelona, Spain

Majestic Hotel & Spa

For travelers seeking a classic yet stylish Spanish look and feel, the beautifully renovated Majestic Hotel is the best hotel option on the Passeig de Gràcia. Just down the street from the Mandarin Oriental, the family owned and operated 271-room Majestic offers a variety of suites – even some grand residences, for those staying longer – that offer a more traditional look, with extraordinary and romantic Gracia views.

The best rooms at the Majestic are the 30 Junior Suites, which are large enough to fit a family (there is a pull-out sofa bed) but in the lounge that closes off via a sliding door. While all the modern amenities – flatscreen televisions, expansive marble bathrooms, free wifi, Nespresso machines – are included, the antique desks and chairs and textured wallpaper impart a classical look that fits with the building’s century-old elegance. The marble bathrooms are stocked with custom toiletries, Atelier cologne and the turn-down amenity is a tiny vial of different scents for guests to try. Heavy, beige curtains are drawn at night to allow jet-lagged guests some respite from early-morning sunshine. Room categories are differentiated by views; the rooms looking out on Passeig de Gràcia with French doors that open to a balustrade are well worth the extra charge. The Royal Penthouse, the largest in the city, features three bedrooms, copious space for entertaining (including terraces) and a maxibar, a mini-bar that takes up an entire walk-in closet.

In contrast to the traditional look in the rooms, the upstairs pool and café deck feels young and hip. With views towards the sea and sunbeds for lounging, it’s a wonderful place for lunch afternoon lazing and a pre-dinner cocktail. And although the pool isn’t large, it’s perfect for a quick dip after sightseeing and essential to families traveling with jet-lagged kids. Other amenities include a fitness center and spa, as well as a business center. The grand El Bar Del Majestic draws an impressive looking crowd and delicious small plates and full meals.

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Bathroom at  Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

The Mandarin Oriental Barcelona mixes Catalan-chic with subtle Asian accents to create a fashionable Zen atmosphere off the Passeig de Gràcia.

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Margot House

Margot House, conveniently located on the Passeig de Gracia near the Mandarin Oriental, feels like a chic home owned by an inviting friend.
Exterior - Mas de Torrent Hotel and Spa, Barcelona, Spain

Mas de Torrent Hotel and Spa

The 90-minute drive northeast from Barcelona to Mas de Torrent—an exquisitely refurbished 18th-century Catalan farmhouse on the outskirts of the small village of Torrent—traverses some of the most picturesque landscapes in all of Spain. Set at the end of the long cobblestone driveway flanked by cypress trees and potted bougainvillea, the postcard-perfect yellow stone house comes into view like a timeless haven. Despite its apparent seclusion, however, Mas de Torrent is well situated for exploring the diverse offerings of the Empordà region. The foothills of the Pyrenees present spectacular backdrops for hikes and nature walks. Several charming medieval towns are within easy biking distance (the hotel provides bikes) and make for beautiful outings—whether for a lunch or simply a stroll through the well-preserved stone-paved streets. And, just fifteen minutes away by car, the beautiful beaches of the Costa Brava beckon for swimming and water sports. That said, once you settle in at Mas—whether to sunbathe on a daybed by the pool, unwind in the state-of-the-art spa or simply put your feet up with a glass of port in one of several cozy lounges—you may very well never want to leave this idyllic spot.

For a hotel with only thirty-nine rooms, Mas de Torrent offers a surprising variety of accommodations. The ten Masía (“manor house” in Spanish) suites in the main three-story building have the most character as well as the best views. Offering a more modern option the twenty-two Garden Suites are housed in bungalows tastefully decorated in soft neutral tones. Although just two minutes away from the main house and the pool, they feel comfortably secluded. The most luxurious lodgings are the Orange Tree Suites. Also just minutes from the main house and pool, these seven rooms open onto an allée of orange trees, whose blossoms fill the air with an intoxicating neroli scent. Each suite has a bedroom, lounge, two bathrooms (one with a hydromassage tub) and a private swimming pool and patio surrounded by lemon trees and greenery, making it a great option for families or those seeking privacy. Nine of the hotel’s suites feature Coco-Mat bedding. Made from layers of all natural materials, these are some of the world’s most comfortable mattresses.

Another reason you’ll never want to leave the Mas del Torrent compound is the elegant restaurant. Its best food is among the best in the area, and owners of vacation homes in the Empordà region are frequent diners. Chef Jordi Garrido is passionate about the local cuisine and uses fresh regional products sourced from neighboring farms, dairies and pescaderías. Garrido’s seasonal menus feature inventive dishes using surprising combinations of ingredients. A memorable starter on the spring menu was a magnificent beetroot salad garnished with wild strawberries, pumpkin seeds and albera ham. As beautiful as it was delicious, this salad was served in a white bowl “painted” with a thick coating of magenta beet puree. The well-stocked wine cellar includes many local gems, which the sommelier will gladly introduce to you. The outside patio, surrounded by bougainvillea and olive trees, is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of cava before or after a great meal.

The MasSpa is housed in an imposing dark-wood three-story lodge. Inside, however, it is surprisingly airy and full of natural light. A dramatic curtain of water cascades over the main stairwell’s glass enclosure. Treatment rooms are on the lowest level, while the top floor holds a heated pool and sun deck. The spa’s interiors—decorated in shades of brown with Asian accents—boast many windows and skylights, which provide both natural light and peaceful landscape views. Treatments, featuring Dulkamara bamboo products, include scrubs, shiatsu, lomi lomi and bio-oxygenating facials. The spa also offers regular yoga and Pilates classes.

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Bedroom at Ohla Hotel, Barcelona, Spain

Ohla Hotel

The slick and modern interior design of Ohla Hotel contrasts dark accessories with glass and light wood furnishings. From the black marble floors in the lobby, to the “eyes” decorating the buildings’ exterior (a striking artwork by Frederic Amat), to the see-through shower stalls that take center stage in some of the guest rooms, Ohla’s vibe is fun, young, and sexy. Though the décor is trendy, the rooms and the public spaces (which include a glass-sided rooftop pool, a boutique cocktail bar and the Michelin-starred Sauc restaurant) are ultimately elegant, upscale and comfortable. The ground level is split between three spaces: an intimate lobby with a few comfortable black arm chairs and a sleek concierge desk (the main reception area is one flight up the circular white staircase, on level .5); the Ohla Gastrobar’s large sunlit open-kitchen dining room; and the sultry Boutique Bar, which opens at 5pm for drinks and bar snacks.

Ohla’s guestrooms feature high ceilings, large window and décor in shades of gray. Minimalist suede sectionals create a nice sitting area and, in certain rooms, the wooden desk stretches into the bathroom so that the same piece of light-colored wood becomes the platform for twin white ceramic sink basins. Many of the bathrooms are open in this way, giving the rooms a loft-like airiness. Those who prefer more privacy, however, should request a room with an enclosed bathroom—lest you be surprised to find a glass shower-stall in the middle of your bedroom.

In addition to its two great restaurants and hip cocktail bar, the hotel’s best feature is its rooftop terrace, which centers on a dramatic glass-sided pool and is furnished with lounge chairs and four-poster daybeds. This so-called “Chill-out Terrace” is perfect for exactly that. Thankfully, this is not a party spot with a DJ and dancing, but rather a lovely spot for a drink or to curl up with a book. Non-guests can enjoy the view and the bar too, but only after 7pm, which means that afternoons up on the roof are quiet and calm.

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Soho House Barcelona

This Soho House feels like a well-furnished apartment, with the amenities of great restaurants, an excellent spa and a killer rooftop with a city view.
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The Barcelona EDITION

The intimate, boutique-style Barcelona EDITION offers a hip yet sophisticated vibe in a central location in El Born, the “Old City” of Barcelona.

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The Mercer

Set in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, the Mercer combines the modern flair of a design-oriented hotel with historic architecture and central location.
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The Wittmore

Featuring British-inspired design, the Wittmore is a stylish boutique hotel located in a historic area of Barcelona close to many attractions.

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