Words by Ben Smith

A city that has a beach invites all kinds of fun and Barcelona is arguably one of the top places to venture to for just that. As well as being relatively close to London, super cheap flights make it even more accessible, and in two hours you are transported to its metropolitan playground, complete with rich cultural heritage, exquisite architecture, world-renowned cuisine, and bustling nightlife.

It’s the first visit since the pandemic for me, and while I have been lucky enough to visit Barcelona quite a number of times, a city can undergo radical change in a short amount of time, meaning a good chunk of the places I have on my list are out of date. The reason for the trip was to experience Hotel Arts Barcelona, the iconic 5-star luxury hotel located on the beachfront of the city, which offers stunning views of both the Mediterranean Sea and Barcelona’s skyline. So, armed with a bunch of must-see, eat and drink recs, (thanks Jules) my research is done.

What interests me about Hotel Arts Barcelona is staying in an architectural landmark on Barcelona’s buzzing waterfront – its 44 floors of exposed glass and steel make it an iconic part of the Barcelona skyline. It also houses the two Michelin-starred Enoteca, led by the five Michelin-starred chef Paco Perez. So it’s a double tick off the list revisiting a city I already love.

Being picked up at the airport is one of my favourite things, call me shallow but the guy that’s holding a board with my name on it does wonders for my posture. From there it’s a short drive to the entrance of the hotel and its 455 rooms and 28 exclusive penthouses, where we’re greeted with smiles and whisked up to the 34th floor. There’s a private check-in, of course there is, and we’re introduced to one of the penthouse suites where we’ll be staying for two nights.

Set across two floors, the duplex suite is nothing short of incredible, with sleek, modern design complemented by an impressive 20th-century collection of works by contemporary Catalan and Spanish artists. There’s a lounge set around a coffee table laden with books on fashion and architecture, a huge dining table that seats eight, and a mini kitchenette with enough equipment to pull off a dinner party. Upstairs is more glitz and glam, the bathroom has his and hers sinks, a double walk-in shower and bathtub, as well as those views along the beach. The bedroom boasts an enormous bed with a TV just as wide facing it, with robes and slippers for even more comfort.

That night I dined at Enoteca, a culinary gem that offers an exceptional dining experience and a 700-bin strong wine list. Their tasting menu is a journey through the flavours of Mediterranean cuisine, expertly crafted by their talented team of chefs over 16 courses. Inside, there’s an atmosphere of refined elegance with sleek and contemporary decor that sets the stage for what is to come.

Each dish is a work of art, meticulously presented with a balance of colours, textures, and flavours that excited the senses, matched with beautifully curated wine pairing. I loved ‘The sea remembering Gaudí’, an incredibly colourful dish of baby shrimp, sweet prawns, tuna and scallops topped with seaweed, tartar of caviar, and two pieces of sea urchin in the centre acting as a bed for an egg yolk to sit upon. The bolognese lobster, a parcel of red lobster with a bolognese sauce on the side made from the thorax of the lobster, was also delicate, rich and sophisticated. The sommelier guided us through a selection of exceptional local and international wines, perfectly complementing the flavours of each dish. Their expertise added an extra layer of sophistication to the meal, elevating the overall experience.

With the warm morning sun streaming through floor-to-ceiling windows, casting a golden glow over the magnificent cityscape of Barcelona, the stage was set for an in-room breakfast feast. Slowly making my way down the stairs, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the air as I watched a breakfast experience fit for royalty being laid out on the dining table. There were slices of rich, nutty Jamón Ibérico, creamy Manchego cheese drizzled in local honey, and perfectly poached eggs, crowned with velvety hollandaise sauce. Breakfast in the penthouse, with the breathtaking views is more than just a treat, it’s a morning of total indulgence. As I take my last sip of coffee, I can’t help but smile, knowing that the day has started on the perfect note.

Nestled within this luxurious five-star hotel, the spa provides a sanctuary where guests can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and indulge in a world of relaxation and wellness. The contemporary design, infused with warm tones and natural elements, creates an atmosphere of elegance and serenity. The spacious and well-appointed treatment rooms are designed to cocoon you in comfort and privacy, and for 60 minutes I get to zone out and be transported to a land of bliss with a full body massage. After the treatment, it’s onto a private use of the spa facilities with a hydrotherapy circuit – that’s making my way round the invigorating hydro-massage pool, soothing jacuzzi, revitalising sauna, and aromatic steam room – all designed to promote circulation, detoxification, and overall well-being, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. One of the standout experiences, besides having the whole spa to myself, was looking out at the views of the Mediterranean Sea while inside the sauna, it’s quite surreal.

Hotel Arts Barcelona is an exceptional choice for anyone looking for luxurious accommodation in the city. With five gastronomic restaurants and a cocktail bar, along with a unique collection of open and leisure spaces, including an infinity pool and a family pool overlooking the gardens, the hotel is an oasis of calm by day and a vibrant hot spot at night. With exceptional service and attention to detail, a stay at Hotel Arts is an unforgettable experience.

Carrer de la Marina, 19-21, 08005 Barcelona, Spain