travel

The Hotel Arts Barcelona: living and dining in five star luxury

The clean, modern, and smart design by Jaime Tresserra makes for a simple but elegant aesthetic.

2022-07-19

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Hotel Arts and Alastair James

I'm a simple man. I like simple pleasures and a simple life. I'm more used to a Premier Inn than I am the five-star luxury of the Hotel Arts in Barcelona. But a splash of luxury every now and then doesn't go amiss.

Walking into the cool marble lobby I'm escorted up to the first floor to reception. It's a wide open space with plush, comfy-looking sofas at one end, an outside terrace beyond that, and a cafe.

The Hotel Arts from above (Photo: Hotel Arts Barcelona)

Here, I'm offered the choice of water or sparkling wine. I choose the latter. After all, when in Rome!

I'm then escorted up to the 34th floor (of 44) because I've been booked into one of the hotel's penthouses and therefore get my own private concierge. One of my new best friends shows me to my room and my jaw hits the floor. 

For two nights I will be staying in a one-bedroom, two-floor (and two-bathroom) flat overlooking the entirety of Barcelona. Downstairs is a lavish open-plan living and dining space complete with a drinks cabinet and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. 

@mralastairjames That view 🤩 #barcelona #travelling #gaytravel #hotelartsbarcelona #hotelarts #hotel #fyp #gay #lgbt ♬ Summer day - TimTaj

The two sofa setup seems overkill as I'm traveling solo, but for a couple staying here long term or having people over, it's ideal. 

Off that is the fully functioning kitchen featuring a Smeg fridge stocked with the usual water, soft drinks, and then the Cava and Champagne. On one counter lies a stand occupied by three bottles of wine. And then there's the tea and coffee, which is complimentary. Sadly, the rest is not. 

Upstairs is a large bedroom including an expansive double bed, large walk-in cupboards, and a massive bathroom with glass walls. You can enjoy the view even if you're in the bath!

The bedroom (Photo: Alastair James)

The design is clean, modern, and smart. All the penthouses (some of which have more than one bedroom) feature furniture by the designer Jaime Tresserra. Soft whites and earthy browns give a sense of simplicity but also opulence. 

Left on my own I explore the space further and am astonished to find more cupboards than I could possibly fill even if I wanted to. I, who traveled with only a backpack, manage to fit everything I brought on top of the unit housing the safe inside one cupboard.

The penthouse is palatial. My voice echoes as I verbalise my thoughts giving it a cavernous feel. I'm clearly not the intended market with this kind of suite but I can enjoy this rare opportunity. 

The selling point of the flat is the view though. It's truly spectacular and offers the literal definition of a panoramic view of the city with its old city buildings standing out against the more modern architecture.

The bathroom (Photo: Hotel Arts Barcelona)

Most of the rooms I'm used to staying in could probably fit in the bathroom alone. The design is a white-on-white affair with white fixtures set against white marble conjuring up images of vintage decadence and designer houses. 

Rich-scented Acqua Di Parma toiletries are supplied and enhance the extravagance and opulence of the experience. 

The elegant and simple design of the hotel continues into one of its five restaurants, Enoteca, where I have dinner on my first night. Everything is white, pure, and clean. The gentle easy-listening music and the sea view complete the relaxing ambiance.

I'm treated to the 15-course tasting menu designed by the two Michelin star chef, Paco Pérez. Throughout the night, I'm taken on a walk along the Catalan coast and experience all the flavours of the Mediterranean.

Lobster, tomato salad, vinegarette, coral mayonnaise, and nitrogised powder (Photo: Alastair James)

I'm guided on this trip by my hosts, Max and Ricky, who work with clockwork precision to serve and collect dishes that combine the freshness of the sea and local produce from the surrounding areas. 

The wine pairing menu, supplied by the delightful sommelier Daniel, offers the perfect accompaniments to each course complimenting various flavours and offering some unexpected surprises. 

Lovers of seafood will be more than satisfied given the hotel's stones-throw-away proximity to the ocean. As someone not in that camp, it was a chance to experience new flavours, textures, and ideas in a safe and manageable way.

Pérez's unique and innovative vision includes his take on a Bloody Mary - deconstructed and featuring nitrognised vodka rocks which smoke mystically as it arrives. That is followed by a sweet almond crisp which is in turn replaced by a crab brioche, a seaweed crisp ball, and prawns.

The smoked wagyu beef changes up the palette slightly and for someone more used to red meat was a welcome addition. 

Smoked Wagyu beef with onion juice, and beetroot (Photo: Alastair James)

But for the seafood lover or simply the adventurous, the tasting menu is the way to go. While the dishes may be small, after 15 you're left feeling suitably full. And after several different wines, vermouth and cider, a little pickled. 

The staff are personable and chatty. It can't be easy having to remember where every table is on their 15 course journey but Max, Ricky, and Daniel, as well as the rest of the staff in the hotel, are delightful.

They took time to get to know me and were interested in what I was doing there (I was asking myself the same thing!) and what plans I had for my stay. 

Such friendly service makes the experience of staying all the more pleasurable. As I was leaving two days later I happened to walk by Enoteca where I saw Max preparing for another day's service. We had a lovely conversation and we wished each other well. Small things make a big difference. 

After waking to that gorgeous view I head for breakfast which is a typical affair with the usual continental offerings mixed with local delicacies and produce.

The adults-only infinity pool (Photo: Hotel Arts Barcelona)

On the pool-deck guests have two options - the pool open to everyone and the adults-only pool. I made sure to try both but it's worth noting that lounges at the adults-only pool are more limited.

Being situated near a large roundabout and some busy roads does occasionally pull you out of a relaxing nap or sunbathe by the constant tooting of horns. But enjoying a couple of cocktails from the poolside bar helps dull that noise somewhat.

The poolside tapas is enjoyable and the selective menu offers a range of options from small nibbles to filling sandwiches, wraps, and salads ranging between €20 and €40. As for cocktails, there is a decent selection. My recommendation would be the Arts Caipirinha but the Cucumber Cooler is also worth a try.

If visitors fancy a spa treatment 43 The Spa floats above the city and even higher than the penthouses. It offers the usual treatments from facial massages to full body and scrubs as well.

Organic luxury is captured in this urban spa which offers unparalleled views of the sea and the city of Barcelona. It's worth booking in advance and opening hours are 10 am to 8 pm (not 10 pm as the brochure in the room misled me to believe)

Favouring a quiet night in for my last night I opted for a hot shower and room service. Having dined so fabulously the previous night I chose the Arts Cheeseburger and fries. In my humble opinion, getting the basics right is important. You can't have a 15-course meal every night. 

Dinner with a view (Photo: Alastair James)

The burger was a little overdone for my liking but still good. Anyway, how many times am I going to enjoy a burger and chips with such a splendid view and in such a setting? Probably never again, so I made the most of it. 

Bearing that in mind, I ordered the continental breakfast to be delivered to my room the following morning. Along with a choice of cereal, I enjoyed pastries, tea, juice, toast, and a fresh fruit salad. All of which was more than enough for another day's sunbathing before heading home and back to normality. 

The continental breakfast (Photo: Alastair James)

Check out the Hotel Arts Barcelona here.

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