Viva Barcelona!

02 October 2011

Barcelona is one of those cities that everybody tells you that you will LOVE before you leave, so as Grazia Daily hopped on to our budget flight to Barcelona last week, we had high hopes. Could the Catalan capital really live up to our, and everyone else’s expectations? Well yes, turns out it could.

Accommodation wise, there is a massive range to chose from in Barcelona, from the super luxurious to the super cheap. For an economical option, think about an apartment in the centre of the city (we found some from €65 per night for two people). For high end luxury, you’ll be hard pressed to beat the hotel Diagonal, which is all minimal lines, monochrome decor and floor to ceiling windows (our room looked out of the corner of the hotel right over Gaudi’s spectacular Sagrada Familia cathedral). The hotel is next to the gherkin-like Torre Agbar, and comes complete with a pool and bar on the roof. V nice.

The spectacular W Hotel (pictured top) is also a must for anyone travelling to the city; whether it’s to stay in one of their beautiful rooms, to grab a cocktail in the luxurious 26th floor Eclipse bar (pictured above - Grazia Daily can thoroughly recommend their signature watermelon martinis whilst watching the sun set over the city) or visiting the Bliss spa; a ridiculously luxurious experience with sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi (pictured below) and one of the best massages we have ever had - the Bliss 75 is a fabulous 75 minute full body massage, and our therapist Yolanda was so nice we fell in love with her a little bit.

From the W Hotel, you can take the cable car from the harbor to Montjuic (€10 each way) the mountainous area to the south west of Barcelona and the site of the 1992 Olympic park. Turns out, that Grazia Daily does not like cable cars AT ALL, but as we stood (eyes closed, and with our sweaty hands gripped to the car’s central pole) the boyfriend took the photos which prove that this ride does indeed offer one of the most spectacular views of the city (below).

Eating in Barcelona is as varied as it can get – the most touristy areas, like Las Ramblas (the main shopping street) are generally best avoided for eating; just a couple of streets away are all manner of great value eateries. SMS Delicies, as recommended by the brills food and drink blogger Mr. Macmahon, is  an oddly named but fantastic, contemporary and packed (with locals, reassuringly) restaurant offers an unfeasibly good value 3 course lunch for €9.90, complete with glass of wine.

Big Fish (above) is hidden away behind the Mercat del Born, and unsurprisingly specializes in fish and seafood with a combination of sushi and Mediterranean dishes, all the ones we tried being delicious. Prices are high-ish (€15 for a starter, €25 for a main) but comparable with a decent London eatery and great for a special night out. For an after dinner cocktail. Try Negroni, which is a well-established and great value cocktail bar, or one of Barcelona’s newest 5 star hotels; the Ohla Hotel, where we got one of the best dry martini’s we have ever, ever had in their boutique bar.

If you fancy some time away from the city, then Sitges is around half an hour away by train (the tickets are about €3.50 each way) and is a zen-like oasis of calm by day, and a full-on party spot by night. Here, the Hotel Alenti (pictured above) is head and shoulders above the rest of Sitges’ accommodation in terms of style and quality; the 9 room hotel is a new building on one of the town’s main streets, with minimal white décor, incredibly friendly staff and a location right in the centre of the town.

Not that you really need to escape the city – it’s one of the most chilled out cities we’ve ever been to, and when you’re not eating or drinking you’ll be hard pressed not to be impressed by Gaudi’s incredible Sagrada Familia, park Guell, or the awesome Montjuic castle. Trust us: you’ll love Barcelona.

- Alex Butt

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