Having always valued experiences over things, I decided to treat Mr S to a weekend away for his birthday. A huge fan of Spanish food and culture, Barcelona seemed the perfect city break – it would be Mr S’s third time in the city and my first and we couldn’t wait to explore together! Carefully considering our hotel options, in the end we opted for Hotel Arts Barcelona, which turned out to be the perfect base for our holiday.
The location on Barceloneta beach couldn’t be better and you will be immediately struck by the architecture.
Ok, so it is a skyscraper but this isn’t some ugly office block. Designed by architect Bruce Graham and built for the Olympic Games in 1992 it real is an icon on Barcelona beach and represents the city’s modern renaissance.
Spanning 44 floors, the blue glass and polished steel the building rises like a giant above the Spanish city on one side and the beach on the other.
The most notable part of the design is the Frank Gehry Peix (Fish) sculpture which lies at the base of the Hotel Arts, grandly overlooking the pool. Made from steel strips, the golden sculpture sparkles as the sun hits, creating the illusion of fish scales.
56 metres long and 35 metres high, it’s an epic sculpture that is an icon of the city and was a landmark for the Olympic village. I’m already a fan of the Canadian-American architect’s modernist style having visited his beautiful creation Hotel Marqués de Riscal in Elciego near Bilbao earlier this year.
Of course, Mr S could think of no better way to spend his birthday than basking in the Spanish sun by the roof top pool, or taking a dip in the outdoor hot tub!
There’s a cute ice cream stand by the pool – but this isn’t just any ice cream, Rocambolesc is from the multi-Michelin star Roca brothers. Of course we had one every and it was the best we tried in the city.
Or pull up a seat at the pool bar for one of signature cocktails, a glass of wine or champagne…
As well as the beach you can see right over the Port Olympic and admire the beautiful yachts.
And there’s no need to stray too far from the pool as you can enjoy a casual lunch at the hotel’s al fresco Marina restaurant, one of six dining options around the hotel.
Lush gardens surround this terraced area and it’s certainly not unusual to see works of art around the hotel, it’s in the name after all! A moniker chosen to reflect the rich culture of the surrounding city. The hotel is part of the Ritz Carlton group, and was originally called The Ritz but the name changed when the Ritz opened in Madrid but of course still reflects the luxury of that prestigious name.
The entrance to the hotel is dramatic too, I mean how many hotel’s have a waterfall at the entrance? And then it’s one floor up to the foyer.
Marble, chandeliers, huge glass vases and fresh flowers characterise this beautiful space and the design is super stylish and modern.
After staying at Grand Hotel Tremezzo and Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine I believe every hotel should have pic n’ mix in the lobby and not only can you take your own sweets here – you can also pour your own bubbly! From the central hub of the lobby you can find most of the hotel’s restaurants: Cafe Veranda is a casual space where you can find a big buffet breakfast while Enoteca Paco Pérez, is the jewel in the crown of the dining options. Chef Paco Pérez’s two Michelin star restaurant focuses on fresh produce from the Mediterranean and a reinterpretation of classic cuisine.
Bites is a chilled all day restaurant with stylish lemongrass decor.
While Frank’s bar is the place to grab your glass of LP before an night out.
As we arrived late on our first night, the hotel concierge recommended dinner at their restaurant Arola. The terraced restaurant by two Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola who learnt from Ferrán Adrià and Pierre Gagnaire was promised as the most stylish choice. We did find the atmosphere fell a little short but the food was excellent – a combination of classic and contemporary tapas.
We chose a mixture of our favourites along with a few things we hadn’t tried before including Fideuà, a dish similar to paella but using noodles instead of rice.
Now I will say that as Hotel Arts is a big hotel with 483 rooms, there are a few downsides to staying there such as a busy lobby and breakfast room. It was also missing the personal touch and bespoke service of small or boutique hotel.
For a more luxurious and exclusive experience, I’d definitely recommend booking a club room or suite. Our executive suite was on the 30th floor on the Hotel Arts tower and was an extremely spacious haven from the city.
Our huge lounge area featured a big screen TV, comfy sofas, and best of all a panoramic view of the city.
Down the corridor is a desk and vanity unit right by the window with a huge mirror, perfect for getting your make up done.
Whilst our large bedroom boasted a view of the beach and the iconic W Hotel. I love that everything felt so white and crisp!
A mini bar was fully stocked with treats, including a bottle of red from the Marqués de Riscal vineyard.
Our gorgeous bathroom was furnished with double sinks, a huge soaking bath with bath salts, a spacious individual shower and plenty of Asprey goodies!
There was also a separate cloakroom which was actually huge!
And the best thing about booking a club room is the Club Lounge.
Firstly there’s the all important pic ‘n mix.
Secondly, you can pour your own champagne and it’s Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut. Or whiskey. Or vodka.
And it’s on the 33rd floor so views are stunning! Just like our room you could see the city on one side and the beach on the other. There’s a fantastic buffet served five times a day, so you can enjoy breakfast or afternoon tea in more privacy than at the rest of the hotel. There’s a dedicated check in desk so there’s no need to queue at the lobby and there’s also a Club Concierge. The concierge managed several of our restaurant bookings and we were really pleased with the private tour that they organised for us on the last day.
I also just wanted to mention 43 The Spa at the Hotel Arts, although we ran out of time to try it ourselves. Located right at the very top of the building it’s a heavenly blend of outdoor terraces, treatment suites, hydrotherapy pools, saunas and steam baths and of course those panoramic views. Many of the treatments are by luxury Spanish skincare brand Natura Bissé which I’ve experienced recently at Whatley Manor and Pennyhill Park.
I just to give a few final thoughts about our stay at Hotel Arts Barcelona; I personally don’t usually choose big hotels as I like the personal service and character of smaller properties. For this reason, I didn’t totally fall in love with Hotel Arts but I did like it a lot! It was the perfect choice for Mr S’s birthday as for him a good pool area and proximity to the beach are the most important things – honestly you couldn’t beat the location or the luxury amenities that this Ritz Carlton hotel offers in the Spanish city.
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Hotel Arts Barcelona
08005 Barcelona, Spain
+34 93 2211000