STAY in Barcelona:
Don't be scared off by the name: If in the morning, you don't remember whether you are staying in a hotel or a castle, then you are in the La Florida. The grand hotel does not hold back with luxury and has been the accommodation of choice for the rich and beautiful. Service and rooms are top class since the early 20th century. A highlight is the generous private terrace that provides great views of the city. In addition, you'll have a beautiful spa area for relaxing. Double rooms are available from Euro 227 per night.
The urban Suites
These apartments are as beautiful as your apartment back home. Urban Suites offers 16 suites and 4 apartments in the lively Sants district. The best is that even the suites have their own kitchen. If you wish to have your breakfast coffee or cook a delicious dinner with all the tasty produce you bought at the market, you will certainly appreciate it. The community terrace invites you to drink one or two San Miguels in good company. Suite for 1-2 people with kitchen from 117 euros per night. Insider tip: book early or stay long.
The five Rooms
Yessica had to have this apartment. But because of its 400 square metres, it was just a little too big for one person and so she decided to transform it into a small hotel. How you do that? You take 5 large rooms, furbish them stylishly and wait until a traveller magazine mentions it alongside the luxury hotels of the city. If you are staying at Yessica, it is like you are staying with a friend who is happy to provide you with all kinds of insider tips that you won't find in any guide book. Double rooms are available from Euro 135 per night
EAT in Barcelona:
If you prefer eating at home with friends, you will feel comfortable in this restaurant with a living room atmosphere. The best part is that these friends cook amazingly well and certainly do not produce plain ordinary dishes. Try the fois gras with fresh figs, fried pigeon or tuna with tomato ravioli. This Catalonian kitchen is modern and affordable. The huge lamp shades and dark wood create a 80s ambience - without the disco though.
The Tragaluz group owns only on the best, most exciting and stylish restaurants. Omm, El Japones and Negro-Rojo are names that everyone in Barcelona knows and associates with the Zeitgeist of good cooking. The Bestial, which is their satellite of the sea, has earned without a doubt its position between those names. Right under the Frank O. Gehry fish at the beach of San Sebastián, guests enjoy dinner on the amazing terrace with breath taking views onto the sea and beach. The cuisine fits the beautiful location right at the beach of San Sebastián: light, Mediterranean with a preference for fish and Italy.
Silenus is a meeting point for artists and intellectual of the city to enjoy an extraordinary dinner. The restaurant hides behind a Jugendstil door and combines the comforts of a coffee house with an excellent gourmet kitchen. The creativity of the Raval area is mirrored in the beautiful food served in this place. Tip: Even though it tastes extraordinarily, make sure you leave some room for dessert. Every single item is a small piece of art that will that will lift you into chocolate heaven.
SHOPPING in Barcelona:
Everybody in search of something special will make a find at Pinzat. For ten years, the creative heads behind the trendy label have worked on their ideas and a considerable range of products. The result: unique bags and backpacks made of vinyl, one of the oldest customary form of plastics. But don't think of stiff and grey plastic bags. The offer ranges from small, medium-sized to big bags which were designed by graffiti artists from all over the world. From motifs with flamenco dancers to landscapes - everything is possible and makes each and every piece unique. In order to guarantee a longer lifespan, the products are sewed twice and an additional strap enables you to wear your bag at the waist and attach it to your bike's handlebar. Also available: more vinyl pieces for the safe transport on your bicycle.
Maria Pascuali and Monica Howe are two fashion designers based in Barcelona that gave Zsu-Zsa their ideas in the shape of young and exclusive fashion designs. One cannot describe their style, as both designers don't want to rely on a specific line or seasonal trend. One finds inspiration on the streets, in music, art, architecture and photography. The great thing about Zsu-Zsa is that these desirable items are affordable - especially in the sale.
The decoration of the shop is very colourful indeed: green walls with red highlights and chess-coloured black and white tiles. The loft is as trendy as the hair cut you will get at this place. The exclusive young hairdressers also know exactly what to wear at the next clubbing event and they know where it will take place. If you ask them nicely they will be happy to share their insider tips. If it is just tips you need but no haircut, just go by for a head massage. Mmmh!
SIGHTS in Barcelona:
Barcelona is all about contemporary art, especially in November. At the BAC! festival everything goes as long as it looks good and is art. Examples include graphite, objects, sculptures, photography, painting and video art. The participating artists are international and their work is exhibited all over town in galleries and public spaces. The works are connected through a common theme that changes every year. The exact programme is constantly being updated and is published on their website.
Creativity has no place in the underground - not true. At least in Barcelona. That becomes perfectly clear when entering the 1,500 square metre large subway station Drassanes in Ciutat Vella. The walls are covered with white, glass-like light concrete elements that are pulled over the subterranean waiting zone like a second skin. The clean and open area seems very compact due to the evenly high walls and the enamel-like surface conveys the impression of already being in the subway. The lighting increases this impression. An that's what the two young Spanish architects Eduardo Gutiérrez Munné and Jordi Fernández Río wanted to achieve. Because to their mind, the subway itself is everything needed at this place. A special granulate material in the white floor provides for suspension of the vibrations. You should check this on the spot by all means!
The most favourite, beautiful, colourful and best market hall is situated right at the Rambla. The hall was rebuilt in 1914 and is as busy as any high street. Michelin star chefs mix with hobby cooks, housewives and tourists while shopping for their produce. The vegetables and fruits stands are vibrant with their colours and inviting scents. Make sure you take a fresh fruit juice on your journey. Careful: the choice is huge! The fish section is very impressive and the produce very fresh indeed. If you cannot stomach seeing fresh fish that's still moving, you should stay well clear. In addition, there is an irresistible offer of cheeses, sausages, sweets, olives and snacks, which can be eaten straight away. Hot tip: the small restaurants around the market are the place to go to enjoy a glass of wine with some very fresh tapas.