THIS 44-floor skyscraper hotel was built for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, but wasn’t finished in time. Nevertheless, it soon became a symbol of the city’s early Nineties lifestyle renaissance and remains one of Europe’s largest paeans to avante-garde contemporary luxury, despite being owned by the Ritz Carlton group.
It’s all hustle and bustle in the sun-flooded marble and mahogany foyer, with a global crowd of the rich and famous being served by young, slightly incompetent, very friendly staff. It’s a cosmopolitan mixture of the glamorous and hot-shot business types, a true epicentre of global wealth. When we visited, a dozen red Ferraris were parked outside, a French businessman was shouting at a receptionist and we were told in hushed tones that a global superstar was staying.
The hotel’s name refers to the fact that this is a gallery too, with a large collection of contemporary Spanish art. Public areas are made ethereally elegant with work by Spain’s top sculptors and painters. Decadent bouquets of flowers are arranged everywhere, the clean, neutral colours of the hotel draw your eye to the ocean view and there are lots of little touches dotted about, such as jars of coloured candy or bowls of beautiful apples.
Rooms are minimalist and windowy – the views here are the thing, and take in the city, the beaches, sailboats and Mediterranean reaching far away. Bang and Olufson sound systems and state-of-the-art showers (two jets and a bench) ensure satisfaction (for the amount you’re paying for a room, they could stretch to offering you a bit of chocolate for free, though).
Hotel Arts has numerous bars and restaurants, but the ones to watch are two Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola’s place, which will give you a new idea of “sophisticated tapas” – it’s also meant to have the best patatas bravas in Spain; and Enoteca, which has a 450-label wine cellar and inventive Mediterranean food lorded over by the Michelin-starred king of Catalunian cooking, Paco Perez.
The cherry on the – literally – top of the Hotel Arts is the Six Senses Spa, the luxe Asian company’s first outpost in Europe. With 44th floor views of the Mediterranean, it’s one of the most gobsmacking city spas in the world – the relaxation room and steam room look straight out onto the sea and there’s a roof terrace too. It’s certainly worth a night of pretending to be a European playboy or girl to enjoy it all.
Hotel Arts Barcelona. Marina, 19-21, 0800 Barcelona. Tel: +34 93 221 1000; www.hotelartsbarcelona.com, from €221 per night for a deluxe room.