This luxury hotel melds historic art deco charm with 21st-century designer sass. Located deep in the middle of Barcelona’s bustle, it occupies a 1920s building that’s been lovingly reworked by architect Oriol Tintoré. Original features—most notably the stone floors and the winding neoclassical stairway—are immediately apparent in the stately lobby entrance, and these heritage touches continue into the hotel’s public spaces and many of the rooms. Not that the rooms are traditional; on the contrary, they’re very slick, decked out with modern conveniences such as media hubs, full black-out electric blinds, and DVD libraries. Arranged around an inner patio (so they all face outward), the rooms are generously flooded with daylight, which highlights the restrained color palettes and elegant wooden floors. At night, candles dotted around the rooms provide mood lighting, and there are complimentary chocolate truffles—touches that are especially appreciated by couples looking for a romantic getaway. Shared facilities at the hotel include an eighth-floor roof terrace with infinity pool, an award-winning restaurant, and a comprehensive spa and wellness center.
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Set right in the heart of the city, next to the soaring Barcelona Cathedral, the Grand Hotel Central offers direct access to the Gothic Quarter, with Plaça Catalunya and Las Ramblas less than a 10-minute walk away. The narrow streets and designer restaurants of the El Born district are well worth exploring. For a break from the luxurious lifestyle, guests should grab a gourmet burger from the breezy but pioneering Kiosko, on Avinguda del Marquès de l'Argentera.
Need to Know
Rooms: 147 rooms; from $265. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The in-house restaurant, Avalon, is overseen by award-winning chef Ramon Freixa, a kind of Spanish Hestor Blumenthal who uses seasonal produce to craft innovative Catalan cuisine for a serious and sophisticated dining experience. For something less formal, the City Bar—all natural woods and plush fabrics—serves salads and sandwiches throughout the day and decent drinks in the evening. In the warmer months, the poolside Skybar is the place to be, not least for the jaw-dropping vistas across Barcelona’s spire-filled skyline. Spa and gym details: The seventh-floor wellness suite offers private massage rooms, steam rooms, and saunas, while the fitness center is equipped for everything from aerobics to Pilates.
Who’s it best for: Foodies, dandies, trendies—anyone wishing to wallow in refined indulgence. Our favorite rooms: Suites come with complimentary cava, chocolates, and a free copy of the hotel’s self-produced Barcelona guidebook, among other goodies. Dining with a view: Guests who dine at Avalon should try to book a table near the window, which—thanks to the restaurant’s location at street level—makes for great people watching in between courses.