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  5 Star Hotel Arts, Barcelona, Spain – Luxury City Break
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We are on the 30th floor Barcelona’s stupendous Hotel Arts, literally living the highlife. A long weekend birthday treat for husband – a.k.a. Flashpacker Phil.

Vertigo sufferers would be best to keep to single digit floors but for us, high in our club room with muted décor and state-of-the art minimalist chic, we are happy to be heavenly guests looking through hermetically sealed windows at the panoramic views.

Gazing eagle-eyed, down to the left we see a boundless stretch of early morning sun and shadowed buildings, sweeping toward the horizon tinged by the Collserola mountains. Down to the right is the Olympic Marina chock full of boats and yachts, Lilliputian-like people and toy cars. It's a heady experience staying on the club level of this exciting hotel.

Barcelona Arts – Cool and Trendy, Warm and Friendly

What gives the iconic Hotel Arts its reputation as one of the best places to stay for a Flashpackers luxury break in Barcelona? It’s unashamedly modern with its sleek steel skyscraper structure and cool interior design. Yet, the witty placement of edible nibbles and everywhere the interior blooming with artful displays of fresh flowers – give it a natural warmth.

Deal-makers, celebrities, honeymoon couples, corporate executives, families with children, teenagers and even canine guests; happily mingle in the buzzy reception area. At their service are the engaging young multi-lingual Ritz Carlton staff.

Hotel Arts, Barcelona Photo Gallery

A Barcelona City Hotel by the Beach

Why is the Hotel Art’s so special? Because it's both a business hotel in a modern metropolis and a Mediterranean beach resort.
Taking advantage of the mild autumn sun, we spend an hour or two by the large pool contemplating Frank Gehry's massive fish sculpture, swimming in the sky: a glistening lattice copper monument, placed as a landmark on the Barcelona waterfront, heralding the 1992 Olympics.

Before you know it, guess what? It's lunchtime. By the turn of the key in the elevator and the press of the ubiquitous number 33, we arrive at the inner sanctum of El Club for the all day complimentary buffet.

Delicate and freshly prepared salads, smoked salmon, plates of Iberica ham, a variety of cheeses and tiny tempting syllabubs in teeny fluted glasses accompanied by a gratis glass of champagne, make a perfect culinary pause.

Sight-seeing Must-sees in Barcelona

Post lunch, a quick taxi ride to the city centre for a visit to the Picasso Museum and Antoni Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia Cathedral.

Satiated by our Spanish cultural experience and overwhelmed by the combination of the grandiosity of Gaudi and the phenomenal power of Picasso, we happily return to our hotel.

A Siesta and Dinner at Enoteca Restaurant

Cocooned in uber comfortable beds it's siesta time: Spain's major contribution to civilised well-being. A shower in the high-tech vertical jacuzzi with jets of water pummeling and invigorating the body from head to toe and finally pampering the skin with Acqua di Parma freebie lotions, it's time to dress for the occasion: the birthday celebration at the Hotel Arts renowned Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant Enoteca.

Molecular cuisine is rather like abstract art. It sets the imagination spinning. To the untrained palette it might seem strange, but it's exciting. Chef Paco Perez softens the taste experience by punctuating his innovative creations with familiar taste sensation. It’s a gastronomic experience not to be missed.

First act – a delicate wave of popcorn; angelic feathery wafer infused with nougat reminds me of Saturday morning childhood treats. Sea Cucumbers arrive; tasty chewy fishy slivers and then plates of aromatic and traditional creamy rice with Ous de Reig mushrooms and white truffle, for my palette refined and flavoursome but for my husband's a trifle bland.

To follow – a luscious free range chicken burger with black truffle and sauteed fois gras, (nothing to do with a bun) and a tender Sole Meuniere with Iberica ham and macaroni of potatoes & langoustine. Chef's tilt to traditional cuisine?
Desserts of baked apple and cinnamon ice-cream and a pineapple, tangerine, white chocolate bergamot ice cream sponge cake, not forgetting foam of Yuzu (Japanese lemons), leaves us sweetly satiated. Unfortunately there is no room for the very tempting petit-fours.

Next morning down to the huge and well-equipped gym to work off the indulgence from the previous night and then up to the spa on the duplex levels of the 42nd and 43rd floor for a sauna.

Gaudi’s Gardens and Tasty Tapas

A Sunday afternoon walk in Gaudi's majestic and magical Güell-Park prefaces another culinary adventure. at the Hotel Arts Arola restaurant – Tapas with a Twist.

Part of the eating experience is the music. Serge's brother, acting as a gourmet DJ, syncopates the beats driving a frenetic accompaniment to the dishes with a mix of jazz and disco music that makes sure that all the senses are fed in one sitting – very Flashpacker friendly.

It’s been a wonderful stay – terrific fun, sprinkled with a little culture. The only disappointment for birthday boy is that Barcelona FC are playing away.

Room Rates at the Hotel Arts are from 295 euros + 8% tax for a deluxe room and from €465 + 8% for a room in the Club.
For special weekend packages or special events packages visit the Hotel Arts website.

Flying with British Airways to Barcelona provides an excellent and friendly service. Fares from £130 return from Heathrow.


© Philip and Nina Saville, The 2012-15