Travel: Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona

Rooftop pool at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
Rooftop pool at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
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Set in the Passeig de Gràcia, an avenue lined with Gaudi architecture and some of the Catalan capital’s best shopping and restaurants, the Mandarin Oriental wins hands down for location. Then there’s the impressive architecture of this former bank that speaks of money from the Zen spa in its vaults, all the way up its airy interior to the rooftop terrace with some of the best views in the city. And as for cuisine, just throw on a pair of Manolo Blahniks from the boutique in the foyer and follow the trail of Michelin stars to its six restaurants.

Acclaimed Spanish interior designer Patricia Urquiola has excelled herself throughout this hotel from the white expanses creating a backdrop for vibrant patterns and multiple artworks to the hanging topiaries and suspended lattice of the Moments dining room and the luxurious tranquillity of the hotel’s 120 rooms and suites.

But without staff a hotel is just a shell and those at the Mandarin Oriental went out of their way to make our stay a pleasure, from directions and suggestions for sightseeing, to information about the history of the hotel.

Budget or boutique?

You’re paying for classic five star luxury and everything you’d expect in terms of room service and guest pampering from the Mandarin Oriental brand.

Room service

Our deluxe boulevard room looked out towards Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and over Passeig de Gràcia below, making it a prime people watching perch, with double glazing to silence the traffic. Striking a chic balance between contemporary and classic with furnishings in calming shades of cream, taupe and whiter shades of pale, there was enough space to skip the light fandango.

My daughter took up residence in the bathroom, separated from the bedroom by opaque glass, with its walk in shower and white Corian vanity areas housing hairdryers and straighteners and multiple mirrors. While she lathered on the Acqua Di Parma toiletries, I lazed around in my courtesy robe and slippers on the goose down duvet on the comfiest of twin beds.

Wining and dining

Michelin chef Carme Ruscalleda, the most awarded female chef in the world with seven stars, presides over the Moments restaurant, where her gourmet dishes have the side benefit of being anti-aging, while Ángel León serves up a fresh catch of sophisticated seafood at BistrEau, as well as light refreshments and breakfasts. Then there’s the Mimosa Garden in which to dine al fresco or enjoy a tipple and up on the roof terrace alongside drinks, there is authentic Peruvian cuisine from Gastón Acurio, who also serves up makis, nigiris, tiraditos and ceviches in the Bankers bar under a ceiling fashioned from original security boxes.

There’s also an extensive room service menu and breakfast.

Worth getting out of bed for

You’re in the heart of Barcelona’s upmarket Gràcia District and on the tour bus and tube route, so whether it’s Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Camp Nou, the Gothic Quarter or the beach, ticking off the top sights is easy.

Back at the hotel the rooftop terrace is reserved exclusively for hotel guests until 7pm and when the city heats up, it’s the place to chill and admire the shimmering 360 degree view. There’s also the spa in the basement, with its own swimming pool, offering therapies and treatments.

Little extras

My daughter was delighted with the Mandarin Oriental chocolate fan that welcomed us, although it made me fret for the all-white decor.

Baby cots, books, crayons and Playstations can all be organised, as can babysitting as Mandarin Oriental makes travelling with children easier.

Guestbook comments

From the rooftop terrace and pool to the basement spa and everything in between, the Mandarin Oriental’s soothing luxury makes it busy Barcelona’s ultimate indulgence.

Janet Christie

Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, rooms from €415 (£353), based on availability.

Mandarin Oriental, Passeig de Gràcia, 38-40, Barcelona, 08007, tel: +34 93 151 88 88,

Norwegian flies twice weekly between Edinburgh and Barcelona, starting from £29.90 one way, tel: 0330 8280854,