Words: Joseph Kocharian; pictures: Supplied
Having been to Barcelona quite a few times, mainly to visit friends and attend their Rafael Nadal-centric tennis tournament (he even has centre court named after him) I would describe the city as bustling, vibrant, and crammed full of things to do.
The city is primed for exploration, from the beach, and spectacular views via cable cars, to the rabbit warren streets of the Gothic quarter and the many beautifully historical hotspots, including architectural highlights from Gaudi.
At the end of a busy day of walking around the city with fellow tourists, and also chasing down a glimpse of Rafael Nadal and Carlitos Alcaraz at the tennis, it’s nice to have somewhere idyllic to unwind.
After all, the Ramblas can be a bit overwhelming, which is where Nobu Hotel Barcelona comes in.
The hotel is an oasis away from the throngs of tourists, located in an authentic local Catalonian neighbourhood. It’s just far enough away from the crowded areas, but near enough to pop in to do all the tourist things.
Chief among helping provide this sense of peaceful sanctuary is the hotel's architectural design.
The hotel was conceived by architect David Rockwell, who was at the helm of the first-ever Nobu, as well at their hotels around the world. Every detail of Nobu Barcelona has been carefully considered to create calmness, adopting the ethos of the Japanese word 'ensō', which means circle, and is a concept associated with Zen.
Rockwell has cleverly infused paler wood into the design of the hotel that filters through from the reception desks and the beautifully sleek spiral staircase in the lobby, through the communal areas and up to the rooms in an authentic Japanese style.
There has also been an infusion of local Catalonian craftsmanship, including Boliobar Bronzers, a family-run business from Barcelona that has been going for over 100 years.
They’ve done plenty of spectacular metal artwork, which finds itself climbing up the walls and the ceilings like glowing cracked lava, bringing an exciting and contemporary warmth to interior spaces.
Whilst their sky-high restaurant offers breathtaking views, their Kozara bar has a cozy, yet opulent gilded feeling where you can hang out in.
I stayed in the palatial Sake Suite, which was truly idyllic, with beautifully curated artwork, including 70s vintage sake jars, plants and the soft warmth of the wood, that gave the space an elevated, luxury, yet homely feel to the space.
It was one of those hotel suites that was so good, I was more than happy to stay there, rather than explore the city. Everything has been designed to relax you, from the subtle calming colour palette, and a bed so comfy that it was cloudlike. It was hard to leave, especially with a 65-inch LCD TV and Marshall Bluetooth speakers to keep me entertained.
I am a sucker for a view, which was ideal as a giant wall of windows wrapped around the whole suite, including framing the Sagrada Familia in the window of the bathroom.
Everyone knows about Nobu’s pedigree when it comes to seafood restaurants, and it’s fair to say their restaurant and bar space is one of the jewels in the Catalan hotel’s crown.
The eponymous restaurant has panoramic views of Barcelona. The light changes from the pale watery light of the morning at breakfast to the twinkling night of the city, giving you a different wow factor, depending on the time of day.
Speaking of wow factors, their infamous restaurant certainly has that. You know a place is popular when the locals flock to it, and the sky-high Nobu restaurant is no different, with the place bustling with Catalonians and hotel guests alike.
At the helm of the kitchen is Sergio Martinez, who performs alchemy with his dishes, using Catalonian ingredients to make beautiful food. He told us he spends time learning about local ingredients and processes so that the food can reflect Barcelona, as well as the infamous Nobu brand.
We were treated to a five-course Omakase taster menu, and just to increase the difficulty level, my friend was unable to come to dinner at the last minute, so my vegan friend joined me instead.
Sergio rose to the challenge and for every sumptuous course that was brought out to me, was matched for my vegan friend. I was particularly impressed with the vegan sashimi, topped with peppers and also sweetcorn that made it look exactly the same as my fish counterpart.
My friend even proclaimed that her vegan berry cheesecake and cherry sorbet was the best vegan dessert she had ever tasted.
For the meat eaters, there was a real fusion of much-loved Japanese classics and innovative food with the exciting presentation. Plates of sizzling Japanese wagyu beef, black cod and beef toban yaki, sumptuous sashimi, and teriyaki, before delicately crafted desserts.
It’s something quite special to enjoy such a beautifully curated feast, with the panoramic view of the city, twinkling around you as you enjoy some sumptuous Japanese dishes.
The relaxation continues with their spa with treatment rooms, a sauna, steam bath, and hot and cold plunge pools. The hotel is taking the time to talk to their clientele and really curate their spa experience, to make sure that they’ve got it right.
Up in your room, the bathroom is another tranquil space. Again with Japanese-style décor, the focal point was the wooden, onsen bath, shaped to the body, a rainforest shower, and marble surfaces, complete with a view of the Sagra De Familiar.
It’s clear that whether you’re in your own quarters, the spa, or the restaurant, every nuance has been thought out by the hotel to maximise your experience to feel effortless calm, and relaxed.
It’s the attention to detail and the nuanced touches, down to the plants and artwork that have been picked, that really make the hotel an oasis in a sprawling city.
Rooms are available from €200 per night, for more details and reservations, visit nobuhotels.com
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