How To Spend A Weekend in Barcelona

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If your idea of a good time is sipping sangria, strolling along a sandy beach front and tapas bars, Barcelona is the place to go. With no shortage of great hotels and an even better selection of places to eat and drink – you’re guaranteed a good time. Here Alice Tate – frequent visitor and head of PR for The Hoxton hotel – tells us how to make the most of a long weekend in Catalonia’s capital…
Photography TOPE

WHERE TO STAY

Barcelona’s hotel scene is booming. The Hoxton is the city’s latest launch, having opened its newest location in Poblenou, a neighbourhood that’s been coined as Barcelona’s most creative district, full of cool coffee spots, art studios and concept stores, all while being in easy walking distance of the beach. Rooms feel Mediterranean with terracotta floors and pastel palettes and a large open lobby serves as a hip hangout for locals and guests where you can grab coffees and cocktails. Up on the roof, a checkerboard-tiled pool flanked by breezy cabanas is the ultimate sun-trap – somewhere you’ll happily while away a few hours with a fruity pitcher to share. A good base for trips with friends, the Homey Up rooms sleep four, which make for a more affordable option.

Casa Bonay is another cool base – often a hit with creative types – with a great central location between the beach and Sagrada Familia. Rooms are somewhat pared back, but with tall ceilings, statement mosaic-tiled floors and Malin + Goetz toiletries. Splurge on a terrace room to enjoy your own private suntrap. Downstairs, enjoy a light tapas lunch in the restaurant, Bodega, or a nightcap in moody lounge, Libertine.

For something a little more under the radar, base yourself at Hotel Brummell, a more intimate spot with just 20 rooms, set in a striking 1870 building in Poble Sec – well located for exploring Montjuïc. For beachfront cool, members will want to check into Soho House Barcelona. Other international imports include The EDITION and W Hotel.

The Hoxton
The Hoxton

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Eating little and often is the style in Barcelona – mostly because there are too many good spots and never enough time or stomach space. Kick things off in El Born where El Xampanyet will transport you back in time with its old-school charm. Squeeze in and find a spot at the bar, where you should sink a couple of glasses of local cava, pop a couple of anchovies, and order whatever dressed seafood takes your fancy. A few streets down, Bar del Pla does a very good lunch. Loved by locals, it’s a small, buzzy no-frills spot where you can work your way through a concise and affordable list of tapas dishes – don’t miss the croquettas, order extra pan con tomate, and try the sweet crema catalana to finish. 

Later, after a stroll around town or maybe a short siesta, start the evening off with an aperitif. The locals drink sweet vermouth, which is served long over ice. Just one will make your shoulders drop and relax you into the night. If sun-kissed sundowners are more the vibe, head to Tope, the taqueria on top of The Hoxton, with breath-taking views and tropical tequila cocktails. Otherwise, if you’re looking for showstopper cocktails, make a beeline for SIPS. Its creative concoctions have scored it a place in the World’s 50 Bars list.

If sun-kissed sundowners are more the vibe, head to Tope, the taqueria on top of The Hoxton, with breath-taking views and tropical tequila cocktails.

For dinner, full on foodies will want to book a table at Proper, a refined restaurant just off Santa Maria del Mar in El Born, where dishes cooked over fire are packed with flavour and best shared among friends. Let the team point you in the right direction of something chilled and juicy to wash it all down – here you’ll find some of the city’s most interesting selection of natural wines. Nearby, Bar Brutal is another firm favourite with its cavernous selection of natural wines and great sharing dishes, or try to get a table at GALA Restaurante, which guarantees a good time with its lively atmosphere and Instagram-baiting décor. For something more relaxed, El Nacional is a food court. 

Come morning, join the locals getting their caffeine fix at Three Marks Coffee (where they approach coffee-making like a science), or swing by Nomad Coffee Lab or Satan’s Coffee Corner in Casa Bonay. If you’ve got a busy day ahead, stop by artisan spot Funky Bakers (which has a few locations) for excellent on-the-go pastries. For bigger brunches, try CaravelleLittle Fern or Milk Bar & Bistro.

Casa Bonay

WHAT TO SEE & DO

Start from the top down and head up to Park Güell, Gaudi’s colourful tiled masterpiece with sprawling views over the city. It’s well worth the €10 entrance fee and you can pre-book tickets online with dedicated entry times to save waiting in queues. Afterwards, hop on a bus or work your way down through the sleepy streets of Gracia, stopping off for a coffee or an afternoon spritz at one of its many al fresco spots, before you reach Sagrada Familia. Unless you’re particularly interested in Roman Catholic churches, it’s probably sufficient to admire it from the outside. Just don’t bother asking about when the scaffolding will come down; part of its charm is said to be the fact that it’s forever evolving.

Next, veer off the always-busy Las Ramblas into the winding streets of El Born and Raval, where you’ll find row after row of boutiques, vermuterias and tapas bars, all housed in gothic buildings. Duck into Mercado de la Boqueria, an energetic local market full of fruit, vegetables and food counters where you can find everything from green juices to oysters. 

@ALICE_TATE

The sandy beach is a big selling point of Barcelona. Make sure to wander along the promenade away from the marina, where you’ll see paddle-boarders and locals playing volleyball. Stop for a drink or some shade in one of the many chiringuitos along the way.

Poblenou has emerged in recent years as the city’s most creative neighbourhood, and is well worth a wander – and if you like a dance, world-famous Razzmatazz is here, too. If you have an eye for antiques or just love rummaging for treasure, hit up Els Elcants, a giant flea market that sells vintage clothes, furnishings and trinkets all under a mirrored roof ceiling every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. 

The sandy beach is a big selling point of Barcelona. Make sure to wander along the promenade away from the marina, where you’ll see paddle-boarders and locals playing volleyball.

On the other side of town, Montjuïc is the castle-topped mountain with impressive views over the city. Up here, the Fundació Joan Miró is a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours walking through the grounds admiring the art and the striking architecture.

Finally, if the sunshine isn’t playing ball, or if you just fancy a spot of pampering, book into AIRE Spa — thermal baths just a few streets back from the beach, with different temperature pools and steam rooms. Its floatation bath is peak relaxation.

NEED TO KNOW

Flight time between London and Barcelona is two hours and 20 minutes, and the city is one hour ahead of GMT. Temperatures peak between May and September, reaching an average high of 29°C and an average low of 23°C.

Click here to stay up to date on all the latest travel guidelines and Covid-19 restrictions.

Visit BarcelonaTurisme.com for more information.

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The SLMAN Edit: Your Guide To A More Stylish Life.