Barcelona

Beach & City Life, Weekend Getaway

The unique culture and architecture of Barcelona are a couple of things which make it such a popular destination; combine that with both beach and city life, endless tapas, and copious glasses of wine or sangria, and you have the perfect weekend getaway.

It was not our first time in Barcelona, and certainly not our last, but with a couple of days there we decided to explore as much we could in terms of eateries, drinking establishments, and of course, rooftops. Being January, we weren’t too sure if luck would be on our side with the weather, but I have to say it couldn’t have been more perfect as the temperatures were not too hot, and yet the city wasn’t as full with tourists as it usually is during the summer months. So if you’re looking for a short weekend winter city break, Barcelona should certainly be at the top of your list.

Map of destinations

We stayed at the H10 Montcada , a boutique hotel at the heart of the Gothic Quarter.

We chose this hotel primarily as it has one of the best rooftops in the city, the Sunset Lounge, which boasts a cosy jacuzzi and terrace bar overlooking the city. Unfortunately due to the time of year, the terrace bar itself was out of use, however the hotel are happy for you to buy drinks at the Travelers bar on the ground floor and take it upstairs. We did have a wander upstairs, but due to the lack of ambience and people, we chose to finish our drinks downstairs. However, the views were excellent, and we can only imagine that the terrace would be buzzing in the summertime. Despite that, overall we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the hotel and definitely could not fault the location on Via Laietana, which was very central and only a short walk from Las Ramblas and from the quaint bars of the Gothic Quarter.

Speaking of quaint bars, we paid a visit to Pastrami Bar/El Paradiso, a popular speakeasy (I know, slightly paradoxical), in the heart of El Born. To see such a long queue at 11:00pm, outside what appears to be a tiny sandwich place, must have looked rather strange, or even sketchy, to a passer-by. But in reality, the sandwich place (Pastrami Bar) is just a front to a secret wooden fridge door which leads to a dimly lit cocktail bar (El Paradiso). Depending on the time, you could be waiting up to one hour, but it’s definitely worth the wait for its great selection of cocktails. Initially, in true speakeasy fashion, there was Gatsby-esque 20’s style music, but it soon switched to more of a party vibe with loud house music. The presentation of each cocktail was so unique; mine was a mango-flavoured twist on the classic pisco sour, and beautifully served in a sugar-coated bird-shaped glass. It was fascinating to look across all of the tables to see how other cocktails had been served, and from the expressions and reactions of other patrons, they all seemed as tasty as my pisco cocktail. And to top it all off, cocktails are very well-priced at around €10 each.

The following day after a lovely breakfast, we headed to the Pulitzer Hotel to check out their rooftop terrace. It was a strange start to the day, as the pavement had been converted to a film set, so we were told to move to another street and wait until they finished filming! It turns out the Pulitzer is a popular venue for shooting, and they often hire it out to producers and photographers.

So it was purely by chance that we got to observe what looked like a movie scene being filmed by the entrance to the hotel. In between retakes of the scene, we were allowed to rush past to enter the hotel. We made our way up to the terrace and were pleasantly surprised with the tranquil space, beautifully planted into a bit of a garden in the sky. It did lack decent views, but there was chilled out lounge music, and a large range of gins in particular, as well as cocktails. I enjoyed my large goblet of French gin, served with orange slices. Again, it was fairly empty due to the time of year, but on weekends they do have DJ sets and live musicians, and more frequently from May to September, when it turns into more of a party venue. Regardless, even during the quiet periods, the Pulitzer rooftop terrace is well worth a visit.

From there, we moved on to the Duquesa de Cardona, a 4* hotel right opposite the marina. We really wanted to experience lunch on the 5th floor terrace overlooking the entire marina, and it certainly did not disappoint. The views were fantastic and you could see the entire port, all the way down to the W Barcelona. We ordered a fantastic selection of tasty tapas, such as the traditional ‘pan con tomate’ (tomato bread), Iberian ham, Manchego cheese, and some very freshly made guacamole served with tortilla chips.

Together with a couple of glasses of chilled white wine, this truly was a fantastic Catalonian lunch. It was quite dear for tapas and wine, but given the beautiful location and hotel itself, that was not surprising and I would say it’s a great hidden gem from which to enjoy a panoramic view of the marina side of Barcelona, away from the hustle and bustle of Las Ramblas, which is only 600 metres away.

On our last night in Barcelona, we decided to spoil ourselves and stay at the iconic W Barcelona , a hotel which has now become one of the popular landmarks of the entire city. In order to maximise our 24 hours here, shortly after checking in, we made our way to our pre-booked ‘Retox’ brunch at the Wave Restaurant on the ground floor. Brunch is €40 per person and includes a welcome cocktail and unlimited food from the buffet.

The selection truly did not disappoint, with a wide array of salads, soups, seafood, meats, vegetables, and desserts. After 2 hours, we certainly felt like we had made the most of it, and were ready to enjoy a coffee out by the poolside. Once our stomachs were fully satisfied, we went to check out our room. As soon as we entered, the view just took our breath away. Personally speaking, it was one of my favourite views of Barcelona to date, particularly because it was quite literally, a view from altitude. We spent the next few hours just enjoying our champagne while soaking in the city from up high and taking it all in. Later at night, we decided to visit Eclipse, the hotel bar on the 26th (or top) floor. The view was quite similar to that from our room, and the DJ was playing a fantastic mix of modern beats. Drinks were around €15, and with our room only an elevator ride away, it was the perfect night out.

Our trip would not have been complete without a visit to Park Güell, given that this is high up on Carmel Hill, and therefore boasts one of the best views from altitude of Barcelona. The park itself, designed by Antoni Gaudi, is a beautiful testament to this Catalan architect. These gardens are a popular spot for tourists, and the main spot of the park is a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. It’s colourful, unique, and simply enchanting. Be sure to visit this park for all things that symbolise Barcelona.

Places to eat:

Breakfast:
Milk – typical American style breakfast or lunch, ranging from pancakes to eggs, cereal or smoothies, and fantastic Bloody Marys. Expect to pay around €20 for your breakfast and drinks. Open every day from 9:00am to 2:00am, reservations not possible.

Brunch & Cake – one of the most beautiful breakfast venues, not just in terms of décor but also in presentation of food. Perfect for Instagram foodies! But as they say, looks aren’t everything, personality is also important – and that is certainly the case here. Food is just as delicious as it looks. Open every day from 8:30am to 9:30pm, reservations not possible.

Dinner:
ABaC – this 3 star Michelin restaurant by Chef Jordi Cruz is the perfect place for a special occasion, with the most delicious and adventurous tasting menu with paired wine. Each and every dish just melts in your mouth and the service with attention to detail is just incredible. Booking well in advance highly recommended. Furthermore, if you are are in luck, then you will be served and looked after by Svitlana.

Ikibana – nice dimly-lit sushi restaurant with a great selection of Japanese food with a Brazilian fusion twist.