An introduction to Barcelona

Barcelona epitomises what you’d expect from a charming Mediterranean city. Copious amounts of sunshine, fantastic food and a relaxed pace, it’s affordable yet competes with any city in the world in terms of cultural and design. The city is well known for its Gothic architecture, modernistic buildings and strong Catalan influence, which is stronger than ever as the city is striving for independence. Couple culture and ease of access from most of Europe, Barcelona is the city you should visit next.

Barcelona is packed with a wide selection of hotels across the city’s many districts with new openings every year. Spoilt for choice, our recommended hotels are the Cotton House Hotel and the Grand Central Hotel.

The Cotton House hotel is located on the Gran Via, which is well connected via public transport to the rest of the city. The hotel is incredibly understated from the outside of the 19th century building formerly the headquarters of the Cotton Textile Foundation (hence the name). However, as soon as you enter you immediately feel relaxed and impressed, with the grand spiral staircase sweeping up from the middle of the hotel.

The rest of the hotel has somewhat a colonial feel, out the back of the hotel there is a huge rooftop terrace where you relax, eat and take in the sun. There is also a small rooftop pool to enjoy the sunny and warm Barcelona weather. All rooms are individually named with a reference to cotton. They are all luxurious, white and with a fresh feel and many have a balcony.

Grand Hotel Central is a very different hotel from the Cotton House. Located on the Via Laietana and very close to the Gothic district opposite the cathedral, the hotel is located very centrally (pun intended). Las Ramblas, them main street in Barcelona, full of buzz, can be reached easily by foot and as with the rest of the city the public transport is also easily accessible. The hotel has a huge facade, beautiful bronze doors, the whole hotel is full of impressive artwork, with a wide number of seating areas. The facilities of the hotel are top notch with a spa, gym, sauna, and a fantastic 10m infinity rooftop pool with views.

The pool is a great spot to hang out during the day and at night time it will transform to a great place to have dinner and cocktails as one of the trendiest pre-dinner places in Barcelona. Breakfast at the Grand Hotel Central is ample with a lot of pastries, cured meats and hot dishes made to order. The rooms of the hotel have high ceilings, wooden flooring, modern decor and most have a Nespresso machine, which is a brilliant get-me-up early morning facility to have in any room.

There is plenty to do in Barcelona during the day and way too much to include here. There is a lot of quirky shops as you’d expect, and there is plenty to do and see on Las Ramblas. Close to the Cotton House Hotel you’ll find Parc de la Ciutadella. Getting there is a pleasant walk and you’ll pass the stunning Arc de Triomf. The park itself is a nice location to hang out and features lakes, fountains and plenty of greenery. If you feel so inclined you can pop in to the zoo which is next door to meet the animals.

If you are up for a bit of a trek head to Montjuic, a mountain located 173 meters above sea level close to the port. Here you can walk around the Greek garden which even has an ampitheater in it! All while taking in some spectacular views of Barcelona.

After walking around for much of the day one of our favourite places to stop off and refersh was Teresa’s. A healthy food shop which serves vegetarian food and also works as a juicery serving freshly made juices which will refresh you to handle the rest of Barcelona.

Barcelona is incredible destination for food with a wide selection of restaurants. For our main dinner during our stay we chose to go to Arcano. Set in a former stables, with low ceilings and a cosy atmopshere. This Argentinian restaurant focuses on grilled food and mainly steaks. However, there is also some off the cuff options such as a caprese salad and a Catalan grilled octupius dish with lentils, which were both superb, just like the steaks.

For our coffee fix, we were pleasantly surprised by Caravelle. Just off the busy Las Ramblas, the cafe was a surprisingly quiet location, even on a busy Saturday afternoon. It’s worth noting most of the best coffee houses, cafes and roasters are closed on a weekend, so if you’re a coffee nut like us, we’d recommend visiting during the week. Another highlight was Satan’s Coffee Corner, located on a back street near the cathedral.

We hope that you view this as an introduction to the city. It was one of our first destinations (back in 2015), our photography skills were somewhat lacking on those early trips and we intend to return soon and, when we do, we’ll update this article.

These hotels mentioned in this article serve as an excellent base for exploring Barcelona by foot. The parks combined with the beaches availaible in the city, really makes Barcelona worth a longer visit and we vowed we would explore the food scene in a greater detail on our next return.


About Author

Alex is a keen fitness and nutrition enthusiast, residing in the US, and contributes to travel, fitness and nutrition tips, news and other interesting tidbits.