The Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona is situated in an elegant mid-20th century building in the heart of the shopping and food district. The rooms have great views over the city and some even have terraces of their own. The hotel design takes inspiration from its original Spanish heritage and mixes it with modern design for an uber-stylish finish.
There are so many things we love about the hotel. The fact that each room has a free standing bath, the restaurants, serving up both formal and casual dining experiences as well as some traditional, Catalonian cuisine and the modern Bankers Bar with outdoor terrace. But our favourite part of the hotel has got to be the roof top sun deck with plunge pool and views over the city, perfect for soaking up those rays.
Passeig de Gràcia, 38-40, 08007 Barcelona, Spain -
Refurbed hotels have something new hotels can’t offer, they have history and this combined with a face lift creates hotels to be reckoned with. El Palace in Barcelona is one of those hotels, from the minute you arrive you can feel the glamour and glitz of the roaring 20s whilst still having access to a host of mod cons of course.....Did we mention that this place used to be The Ritz?
One look inside and it's easy to see why this is a fave. The interiors are timeless; velvet curtains, chandeliers dripping from the ceilings, deep sinking arm chairs, golden tables, lamps, plush carpets....we could fill pages just listing everything we love about this hotel, but we won't bore you.
We stayed in one of the Junior Suites with Jacuzzi bath, double rainfall showers, huge bed and separate walk-in wardrobe. These suites are seriously swish. Elsewhere in the hotel the Mayan spa has the only temazcal sweat lodge in Europe and offers a range of treatments for individuals and couples. The basement cocktail bar 'Rien de Rien' has live jazz music every night and is manned by handsome chaps who know all the tricks in the book, and if you're lucky they'll get the shiny disco ball out!
The hotel's Michelin starred restaurant Caelis located in a ballroom style setting is headed up by chef Romain Fornell who was the first French chef to be awarded a Michelin star in Spain. The restaurant serves some of the finest food we’ve ever eaten, courses come in a variety of props; fish bowls, dishes made from ice, perfume spritz and popping candy.Breakfast is another joyous occasion served in El Jardin with a whole host of hot and cold goodies on offer as well as champers on ice.
There are deals which come up all year round but let's not pull the wool over your eyes; to stay here requires cash and lots of it. You may want to swap the army plimsolls for your dad's Clarks.
El Palace, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 668, Barcelona -
A former flamenco bar turned club, La Macarena is a real underground gem. Tucked away down a side street off Las Ramblas, it has a capacity of just 80 people and the DJ booth is bang in the middle of the floor. Yes, you may find yourself falling on top of the DJ, but the music programming always cutting-edge, the atmosphere is great and the sound is top notch.
Carrer Nou de Sant Francesc, 5, 08002 Barcelona -
La Terrrazza is the kind of venue you'd only get in Barcelona...an open-air club in the Poble Espanyol architectural village on top of the Montjuïc mountain. And yes, the views on the way up are something special. Designed like a Majorcan manor house and host to some of the biggest DJs and club nights, it's a real mix of old and new. Given that there's no roof, it's only open during the summer season, and is home to some of the biggest nights during Sonar, with London's very own secretsundaze taking over the terrace year after year.
Avinguda Francesc Ferrer i Guardia, 13, 08001 Barcelona -
PAX 49 is another El Born cocktail bar that wants to serve great drinks rather than trying to re-invent the wheel. Their signature creations feature a PAX twist on popular flavour combos, perfect if you fancy something different rather than crazy, and their classics are spot on, especially the Old Fashioned. And with 18 different kinds of gin behind the bar, they mix up a mean G&T too.
Carrer del Rec, 49, 08003 Barcelona -
Porteño is a tiny cocktail bar in the El Born area of town and they've got it nailed. You won't find any crazy concoctions on the menu; instead you get classics done very, very well..the Cosmopolitan, White Russian and Caipirinha were all excellent, and they serve one of the best Espresso Martinis we've ever had. Go for a quick one before dinner when it's a little quieter and then come back after once more people have packed in.
Carrer dels Carders, 32, 08003 Barcelona -
Cocktails starting at just €5 make Milk a good place to start your night's activities but we think it's actually better the morning after. With its plush decor, including plenty of cushions, and recovery brunch, featuring eggs in many forms, thick pancakes, smoothies and juices, Milk will help ease the hangover, no matter how hellish it is. Plus it's home to one of the best Bloody Marys in Barca. This is how you want to start your day.
Carrer Gignàs, 21, 08002 Barcelona -
This all-day restaurant is located inside the Santa Caterina market, so you know what comes out on your plate is super fresh. Although Cuines Santa Caterina has tables outside, this is one of those rare occasions where you actually want to be inside. The place is huge, with an open tapas bar and kitchen running down the whole length of the restaurant, an LED screen displaying the daily specials above it, and long communal tables out on the floor...safe to say it's buzzing. Good luck choosing what to eat too as the menu is stacked, with a mix of Asian and European dishes that are all well executed. The monkfish with clams and romesco sauce and tuna ceviche were both pretty spesh, so if you don't mind a bit of mix and match, you're in for a feast.
Mercado de Santa Caterina, Av. de Francesc Cambó, 16, 08003 Barcelona -
A few streets back from Barceloneta, Bar Bitacora is the ideal place for lunch when a jamon y queso sandwich on the beach just won't cut it. There's an open kitchen and bar where you'll find the locals during the day, and a covered terrace out the back, which is where you should aim for. Classic tapas is the name of the game at Bitacora and they don't mess around; the portions are big, so order in stages. That being said, the grilled sardines are worth doubling up on. It does gets much busier in evening, so be prepared if you plan on heading here after dark.
C/ Balboa, 1, 08003 Barcelona -
Tucked away is probably the best way to describe La Candela...it's a small restaurant in a quiet square that requires some backroads navigation to get to but that means it still has a hidden gem kinda quality about it. Service is on the more relaxed side and you'll be wanting one of the al fresco tables, so there'll probably be some waiting and it'll definitely be worth it. The menu is a mix of classic and modern tapas dishes...the squid pops are a particular fave...and even with many, many bottles of wine, it won't break the bank.
Plaça de Sant Pere, 12, 08003 Barcelona -
Yes, it's one of the city's biggest attractions, and yes between hungry tourists and locals trying to get a bit of shopping done, La Boqueria can get mental busy, but it's worth braving the crowds for. Not only can you check out all the amazing goodies on show, and pick up a little inspo for your own kitchen, but you can get cones of jamon, chorizo and manchego for five euros, enormous oysters at €1.50 a go, croquetas, coconuts, juices and all manner of other treats to eat as you're walking round. And if you're prepared to wait for a spot, there are small tapas bars in the market itself, putting all that fresh produce to good use.
La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona, -
The Port Olimpic end of the beach can be very touristy, but Palmito is well worth a pit stop. With lots of palm trees (shock), wide umbrellas and comfy sofas, it's a got all the makings of a great beach bar/ With light, fresh lunches, including a burrata and tomato salad that comes with an entire ball of burrata, and Aperol Spritzes for six euros, you can't go wrong.
Carrer de Ramon Trias Fargas, 2-4, 08003 Barcelona, Spain -