Picture a place where you can stroll off the beach onto a glamorous rooftop terrace to enjoy sumptuous cocktails. Imagine relaxing in a candlelit spa with revitalising massages and health treatments, followed by a gourmet meal for two in a romantic square overlooking a 14th century church. All of this and more is possible. In fact, whether you’re in need of a boutique shopping spree or simply crave a romantic getaway with your loved one, Barcelona is unquestionably one of the world’s best places to do it. Here’s how to live the good life in the Catalan capital of cool.
Luxury and Elegance
With the seductive streets of Passeig de Gràcia and Diagonal to explore, not to mention the grand department stores and haute couture boutiques that grace the city centre, fashion forward couples can shop for everything from big name brands to one-off vintage attire and handmade jewellery.
Debonair gentlemen will find plenty of vogue inspiration at boutiques like Oscar H. Grand (Carrer de la Barra de Ferro, 7, 08003), which offers custom tailoring and hand-crafted Prêt-à-porter items inspired by the timeless designs from the 20th century.
Grand says that “even the most discerning of fashionistas will love wandering around Barcelona’s old streets, where you are sure to discover many interesting local designers and beautiful boutiques”.
He also recommends exploring the neighbourhood of Gracia, where, he reveals, “there is a beautiful custom made shoe shop called Cuervo Cobblerblack Bird (Carrer de Sèneca, 2, 08006)”.
Elegant quaintrelles have even more to get excited about in the old town, with an abundance of artisan ateliers and independent boutiques, such as Iriarte Iriarte (Carrer Cotoners, 12, 08003). This inspiring workshop and retail space was opened in 2009 by Carolina Iriate, who has since been hailed as one of Europe’s premiere luxury bag designers.
“The objective was to create a special space where I could design, make and sell my hand-crafted leather bags and accessories. I make my fashion pieces for men and women who appreciate good quality and care about how things are made,” she says.
Iriate also recommends Natalie Capell (Carrer de la Carassa, 2, 08003) for beautiful made to measure dresses, La Comercial (Carrer del Rec, 73, 08003) for international labels and Les Topettes (Carrer de Joaquín Costa, 33, 08001) for luxury perfumes from across the globe.
Relax and Revive in Style
Barcelona is overflowing with glorious spaces of zen-like rejuvenation, but, from personal experience, I recommend the subterranean sanctuary of Aire de Barcelona (Passeig de Picasso, 22, 08003), which is housed under the stone archways of one of the Born neighbourhood’s most ancient buildings.
Olaia Sarasqueta is the commercial director and says it’s not just about self-indulgence, but also about preserving and celebrating an ancient cultural tradition.
“We wanted to recover the traditions of ancient Greek and Roman baths and create a place where people could completely switch off from the stresses of everyday life. It’s a great way for couples to spend quality time together, especially with our couples’ massage therapies,” says Olaia Sarasqueta.
Cocktail culture and fine dining
What better way to end a day of hedonism than with a romantic meal for two followed by expertly made cocktails? Or as they do it in Spain, cocktails followed by dinner (they believe a good stiff drink helps work up a healthy appetite).
Living legend Javier de las Muelas is the proud owner of the Dry Martini cocktail bar and restaurant (Aribau, 162 – 166, 08036). And he should be proud: it’s currently lauded as the third- best gin bar in the world. Opened over thirty years ago, it was originally a martineria, serving only gin-based cocktails, but it now serves all the classics, including margaritas, negronis, old fashioneds and whiskey sours.
Javier de las Muelas explains that the key to his success lies in his multi-sensory approach.
“We approach mixology like a grand opera and play with the senses: enveloping light background music that complements the clink of glasses and the sound of the shakers in action. We create a warm and inviting atmosphere with classic decor, but stay contemporary with beautiful works of modern art. And of course, the taste and aroma of our perfectly executed cocktails. Perfection!”
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, Javier de las Muelas recommends heading to Dos Cielos restaurant at Hotel Meliá Barcelona Sky (Carrer de Pere IV, 272 – 286, 08005), which offers contemporary haute cuisine and romantic city views from its fortunate 24th floor vantage point. Equally as chic is La Dolce Vita terrace bar and restaurant at Hotel Majestic (Passeig de Gràcia, 68, 08007), where you can explore the delectable flavours of the Mediterranean.
And if that’s not enough romance for you, why not go for ‘one last drink’ at Boadas Bar (Carrer dels Tallers, 1, 08001), which is not only my favourite bar, but also the oldest cocktail bar in Barcelona.
If you’d like to sample the elegance and sophistication of Barcelona book one of hotel deals in the city.