The whole point is its stunning location.
This Catalan art deco palace, built in 1929, sits set into the rock face of Montjuïc mountain, to the south of Barcelona, yet is only a kilometre from the centre. During the latter half of the 20th century, the building was used as recording studios for national television and radio before being sympathetically brought into the modern day.
Original features have been carefully retained and combined with modernist additions by architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. The marble atrium with wraparound internal balconies is dominated by a 2m fibre optic chandelier – a design nod to Gaudí’s legendary and still unfinished cathedral, Basílica de la Sagrada Família. The terrace at the back overlooks formal private gardens, designed 80 years ago by eminent French landscape architect Jean-Claude Forestier.
Barcelona is a large, bustling city of 1.7 million people, and staying here, set back from the centre on the seaside, allows for a great skyline perspective. n
WINING AND DINING
Head chef Carme Marsa is passionate about using the freshest seasonal produce from around the region and has ensured that the Forestier restaurant has a reputation for fantastic à la carte and tasting menus with a contemporary Spanish lilt.
Sitting on the terrace overlooking the harbour, we opted for the five-course tasting menu. Mouth-watering jamón set the tone, while the typically Catalan pea cream with poached egg and soggy rice with prawns were utterly memorable, and not to mention the orange mousse with chocolate ganache cup would be a crime. There is also an impressive Spanish wine list.
Each of the 75 rooms has a slightly different aesthetic, with picture windows that ensure light floods in, and the comfort and sense of space in the bedrooms and bathrooms is notable. Almost medicinally delicious local sparkling water, Vichy Catalan, awaits you gratis, the beds are seriously comfy, the linen is fine, all technical and mod cons are in place (including essential air-conditioning), the chic bath products are replaced daily and the room service menu is very good. I cannot wait to experienc the view again, but having had a city vista this time, I’ll ask for a seascape on my next visit.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE
A large boutique hotel with affordable prices, making a weekend in this incredible city within easy reach.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Food and design are in the DNA of the Catalan people, with produce (especially fish and pork) to die for, so they expect the best wherever they go and whatever their budget. As I was told by a local friend, it is no coincidence that El Bulli was situated in this region and the maestro behind it, Ferran Adrià, had his ‘thinking studio’ near the famous covered food market La Boqueria, just off Las Ramblas. Stop there for a chickpea and chorizo lunch at Bar Central or go for fish at Pez Vela in Barceloneta, Rioja at Bar Mut, oysters at Boca Grande, and ham and eggs like you have never experienced at Freixa Tradició.
Walk all the way along the Avinguda Diagonal, which bisects the city, and you’ll see Barcelona’s most famous architecture, including the palace, the university and Gaudi’s famous La Pedrera and Casa Batlló, plus one of the world’s oldest and best design shops, Vinçon, and a wealth of great boutiques. Another must-see is the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion – built in 1929 for the International Expo, it is modern architecture at its simple best – you can see why it so strongly influenced what came after.
A pianist in the bar most evenings sets a relaxed tone, particularly with a glass of cava in hand. The sleek and chic rooftop swimming pool is a great refuge when pounding the pavements gets too much. Did I mention the view?
The service was fantastic and nothing too much trouble for the staff, who answered my questions tirelessly on how to prioritise the sights and how to get there. With so much to see and do, you will walk until you drop, but try to allow a 12-minute trip in the Teleférico del puerto cable car across the working harbour to the beach at Barceloneta, plus a couple of hours for the Bus Turístic tour. Both of these can be picked up just outside the hotel and give fantastic insight into the city.
• B&B, from £128 (€150) a night, based on two sharing. The five-course tasting menu at Forestier starts from £32.50 (€38). Hotel Miramar, Pl Carlos Ibañez 3, 08038 Barcelona (00 34 932811600, www.hotelmiramarbarcelona.com)