If you’re yet to do Barcelona, book now. The Catalonian capital has it all: great food, art, rich history, cracking cocktails and the beach. And if you like the balance of the glamour (rooftop bars and five-star dining) and the grime (cheap eats and partying till the small hours) that London offers, Barcelona does it too, only with added sunshine.
We spent a long weekend in the city, setting up base at the painfully cool DestinationBCN – a collection of apartment suites that will make you rethink self-catered.
What: From the outside, you’d be forgiven for walking past the inconspicuous door of DestinationBCN. Inside, a charming, mechanical lift sits in the centre of a quintessentially Catalonian apartment block, where above, 14 one and two-bedroom apartments circle that and the winding staircase. Each apartment has been renovated and spruced – a home away from home, probably with more style.
Where: Sat on the corner of Universitat (good for quirky bars, boutique shopping, cheap lunches and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) and walking distance to must-visits like the Sagrada Família and Casa Batlló (one of Gaudí’s famed masterpieces), as well as Barcelona’s best shopping street, Passeig de Gràcia – head here for Chanel, Loewe and the most organised Zara in Spain – DestinaionBCN is in prime location. The Gothic Quarter is close by, too – a must visit for late dinners and bar hopping – get lost in its dark walls and winding roads, you’re bound to find a basement bar or authentic tapas joint.
What’s on offer? We stayed in the Moon suite – a chic, 70 square-metre space, with one bedroom and one bathroom – ideal for a couple’s weekend getaway. For something smaller and a little more affordable there’s the Marimon, or blow the budget by booking in to the Tengujo penthouse complete with private roof terrace.
The interiors… Are mid-century modern-meets-Catalonian chic. Take styling notes from the Farrow & Ball-esque saffron and grey walls, white linen drapes and five-star hotel-worthy beds. If you’re a fan of the now huge #ihavethisthingwithfloors hashtag, Barcelona provides perfect Instagram fodder. Our apartment had beautiful blue and grey tiled floors at our sundrenched bay window – a reading spot to get lost for hours in. The Ibani freestanding egg-shaped bath in the bedroom was the cherry on the top, waiting to be filled up for a long, lazy soak after a day of sightseeing.
Little extras… Are not forgotten. From the Apple TV to the MALIN+GOETZ toiletries, a coffee machine and all the mod-cons you need, you’re offered a stress-free stay and a little touch of luxe without staying in a hotel.
Make the most of… Barcelona being a walk-able city, if only for the top up of vitamin D levels or the excuse to make food-inspired pit stops along the way. Failing that, there are taxis everywhere – we rarely waited more than a minute before flagging one down. And if you’re a keen cook, head to the Mercado de La Boqueria – a bustling local market where you’ll find towering stacks of fruit and veg, fresh local fish and cheese, cheap as chips street food and authentic tapas. The market is no-frills and busy – get there early to avoid the tourists and the siesta – and shop for dinner on a budget. It’s the prime place to pick up some gifts to take home too, from vintage-style chocolate tins to hot, spicy sauces.
What’s the damage? Apartments start from £78.18 (€90), excluding tax at 10%, plus a €66 cleaning charge. Check the website for last minute deals, too.
Would we return? Without a doubt. There’s nothing quite like staying in a hotel and being waited on, but if you’re going to do self-catering, this is just about as stylish as it gets. Book in and pretend to be Barcelonan for the weekend.