Escape to Catalonia
View of Passeig de Gracià from the hotel rooftop
The Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, set magnificently on Barcelona’s central boulevard Passeig de Gràcia, is a majestic Spanish Hotel nestled among iconic Catalan architecture, World Heritage sites, and uber posh boutiques. This luxury 5-Star Hotel, a stroll’s distance from Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, and Sagrada Familia, is absolutely where you want to stay when you visit. The hotel itself occupies the magnificent mid-20th century former Banco Hispano-Americano but having been reimagined by a team of Spanish architects and designers in just the last decade, the experience is swoon-worthy. Anyone familiar with the Mandarin Oriental group’s reputation worldwide knows a stay at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona guarantees luxurious accommodations, world-class cuisine, and an extensive array of spa offerings. Architectural buffs will be in design heaven, stylized metro signs, tile mosaics, and modernist facades are found everywhere; just across the Boulevard is the renowned Casa Batlló, the architectural masterpiece by the celebrated Antoni Gaudí.
Mandarin Oriental Barcelona facade
Mandarin Oriental Barcelona’s dramatic entrance – a suspended ramp - welcomes guests into the lobby’s ultra-mod white-on-white décor. The hotel’s sophisticated ambiance is the work of Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, celebrated for her interiors in Milan, Zurich, and Lake Como. A weary traveler might want to take it all in, but wouldn’t you rather head straight to the Banker’s Bar for a house martini, considered, of course, one of the finest in the city.
Mandarin Oriental Barcelona entryway
Exceptional hospitality is a trademark of the Mandarin Oriental hotel group. A plate of mandarin oranges, floral bouquets, house chocolate, a local Shiraz, plus your own private butler are standard amenities. The hotel has some of the largest rooms in the city with private balconies and terraces with views of the Passeig de Gràcia or the property’s beautifully landscaped Mimosa Garden, both to be enjoyed day and night. I loved the thoughtfully curated info guide of local happenings, favorite neighboring restaurants, and an illustrated promenade map in my room. At turndown, little treasures appeared on my pillow: an iPhone “detox sac” or a night of uninterrupted sleep, lavender aromatherapy, luscious eye cream, garden seeds for planting upon my return home. The big picture is essential, but it is the little things that make the difference between a great stay and a truly remarkable one.
Private balconies and terraces on the ground floor and the hotel’s interior Mimosa garden
If you’re traveling with the whole family, book the Penthouse Suite, a spacious 2,500 square feet, with two bedrooms, living room, dining room, and two outdoor terraces. Exotic Italian furnishings, bespoke silk rugs from Hong Kong, and luxurious fabrics abound. Mandarin Oriental offers adjoining suites and a selection of special menus and amenities for young visitors.
Penthouse suite and private terrace
Penthouse suite terrace
Penthouse suite dining terrace and hot tub
Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is a gastronomic destination in and of itself. Head over to 2 Michelin-star, Moments for neo-traditional modern Catalan cuisine. At the helm is Chef Carme Ruscalleda, awarded 7 Michelin stars for her restaurants in Spain and Tokyo. As the gastronomic overseer, her focus on traditional and modern Catalan cuisine with Asian touches can be tasted throughout several hotel venues including Moments, Banker’s Bar, in the privacy of your own room, and at the more casual Blanc restaurant. Chef Ruscalleda, along with her son, Chef Raul Balam, and their staff have created a chef’s table experience where guests enjoy a front-row seat at the kitchen table. The restaurant’s themed tasting menu takes guests on epicurean passages to destinations such as the Roman Coliseum, Machu Pichu, Taj Mahal, and Barcelona’s own Catalan roots.
Blanc, the hotel’s more casual restaurant, is known for its lavish breakfast buffet. The most popular dish, pà amb tomàquet is a peasant bread soused with olive oil and crushed tomatoes, a delicious local fare.
After a day of touring, you’ll be ready for a recharge, up to Terrat rooftop restaurant with a pool and stunning 360-degree views. You’ll notice the beautiful people arriving to enjoy al fresco Peruvian ceviche and cocktails and the dramatic sunset.
Terrat rooftop restaurant
For head-to-toe pampering, the Spa at Mandarin Oriental offers guests signature treatments based on 2,000-year-old Traditional Chinese Medicine which focuses on the body’s vital force of life, called Qi. Spa treatments start with a soothing foot ritual, symbolizing the departure from the temporal world to the truly spiritual. Luxuriate in a vitality bath or schvitz in a Turkish hamam, experience your own a Shungite stone bath which dissipates the bodies harmful energies, and finally, splurge for a head-to-toe shiatsu massage. You will truly wonder where all that tension went.
Spa vitality pool
Spa steam room
Yoga at the rooftop pool
by Paula Koffsky
Photos courtesy of Mandarin Oriental