Google “things to do in Barcelona”, and you’ll find architecture and museums appearing as the top attractions, followed by market tours and Spanish cooking lessons. Some of the 20th century’s most influential artists left their marks on this vibrant city. Gaudi, Picasso, and Miro bequeathed Barcelona with countless buildings, paintings, sculptures, and outdoor installations. And, yes, even the food for which Barcelona is famous — tapas and paella — are turned into culinary works of art.
So it is apropos that a hotel matching the city’s artistic proliferation was built.
Located 15 minutes from El Prat international airport and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Hotel Arts is worthy of its name. Let’s begin with its striking design. With a background in structural engineering, architect Bruce Graham wrapped the exterior with metal beams that form a series of Xs running down the sides of the building. The result is an edgy and modern interpretation of a dwelling designed to cocoon hotel guests.
The 44-story hotel and the adjacent 43-story office tower stand over the site of Port Olimpic, home of the sailing competitions in the 1992 Summer Olympics. From the sea, both towers — Barcelona’s tallest buildings — appear as a symbolic gateway into the city of arts.
From here, a five-minute walk takes you to the Ciutadella Vila Olimpica metro station on the yellow (L4) line, which has the nearest stop to the Picasso Museum, the Gothic Quarter, and the Passeig de Gràcia shopping district. The Plaza Catalunya interchange, bustling La Rambla, and Gaudi’s beloved unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia, are just one connection away.
For the art of perfecting one’s tan, the hotel is steps from La Barceloneta beach. The accompanying boardwalk makes for a pleasant stroll and people-watching. The full-service beach has lifeguards, toilets, showers, and food outlets. The best part? The beach is completely smoke-free.
Art Everywhere You Turn in Barcelona
Hotel Arts’ standard accommodations — Barcelona’s largest entry-level rooms at nearly 500 square feet — are nicely appointed with chaises longues facing the windows and spacious double-sink baths. Interior design fans will appreciate the minimalist décor of the 2,000-square-foot Arts Suite that spans the entire ocean-facing side of the building.
Even more appealing are the lavish one-, two-, and three-bedroom penthouse apartments that resemble spaces you’d expect to find in the pages of Architectural Digest. Fully self-contained and with butler service, the suites are outfitted with the sleek furniture of renowned Catalan artist Jamie Tresserra. Handmade from varnished walnut, teak, metal fittings and accents, the contemporary dining sets, chairs, and wall units blend industrial design with functionality and timeless style.
Artwork by local and national artists graces the hotel’s public spaces. And in collaboration with the We Collect of Madrid, a recently added gallery houses a rotating exhibit by emerging Spanish artists.
The opportunity to appreciate art continues outdoors. Across the pool deck, the El Peix sculpture by famed Canadian architect Frank Gehry gleams in the sun. Created for the 1992 Olympics, the metal “scales” of the fish reflect not only its original golden shade but a spectrum of hues depending on how the sun shines on it at different times of the day, and even when it isn’t shining.
Culinary Indulgences at Hotel Arts
When it’s time to eat and drink, Hotel Arts’ guests can enjoy even more art — this time of the culinary kind.
Just off the lobby, the P41 Bar presents art in liquid form through signature cocktails created by Colorado-born, now Barcelona-based mixologist Diego Baud. But first on the wall is a mural created by Barcelona artist Javier Gutierrez (aka INOCUO The Sign). Made with hand-molded clay and infused with silk thread, the geometric installation pays tribute to some of the cities located on Parallel 41 — New York, Rome, Istanbul, Oporto, Shenyang, and, of course, Barcelona.
The menu — presented like flight boarding passes — logically features libations inspired by the P41 cities and their surrounding region. With names like London Detour, Sitges Swizzle, and Zonguldak Sour, Baud shakes up the classics with a creative twist that won him the title of Spain’s Best Bartender in 2015. The adjacent Coctelarium lounge houses a collection of tools of the trade that mixologists use to craft their art, and also hosts the Liquid Journeys mixology workshops and master classes.
Culinary arts at its best culminates with dinner at Enoteca by Paco Pérez. Highly regarded as one of Catalonia’s most celebrated and decorated chefs, Pérez brings his Costa Brava roots and simple but fresh approach to Hotel Arts. The restaurant is light and airy, and a terrace bathed in sunshine and refreshed by ocean breezes is a perfect spot to indulge in glorious Mediterranean cuisine.
The tasting menu is a tour de force of the garden, the mountain, and the sea — the trifecta that forms the basis of Pérez’s inspiration. Catalan broad beans, rocoto peppers, and Galician razor clams are married with white asparagus, Wagyu beef, lobster, and sea prawn in 11 magnificent courses. Each is as delicious as it is visually pleasing, beautifully paired with wines from the restaurant’s 700-bottle cellar. Clearly, the restaurant deserves its two Michelin stars and is only one of six in Barcelona bestowed with such honor.
Clearly, Hotel Arts embodies creativity in all its disciplines, with a spotlight on architecture, design, visual art, and gastronomy. Barcelona has many appealing reasons to visit, and Hotel Arts no doubt will perfectly complement your stay.
MORE ABOUT HOTEL ARTS BARCELONA
Location: Carrer de la Marina, 19-21, Barcelona, Spain (see map below)
Room Rates: A weekend night in December starts at $450 euro (approx. $440 USD), according to a search on the property’s booking engine.