Barcelona Top 10
1. When it comes to Barcelona, a top 50 is more apt as the city is just a burst of food, lifestyle, zest and fashion. To begin with, the choice of incredible hotels is a traveller’s dream come true – I have stayed at the quaint and homely The5rooms on the buzzy street of Pau Claris, the chic SixtyTwo hotel on everyone’s favourite Passeig de Gracia boulevard as well as the topnotch Omm hotel in the same area.
2. Omm is also where the must-be-seen-must-be-savoured Roca Moo restaurant resides. Japanese cuisine with a distinctive Catalan twist is what their mouth-watering menu offers. Blanc at Mandarin Oriental and Abac are other fabulous dinner options. As is the superlative Arola at The Hotel Arts Barcelona, ably commanded by an ex El Bulli chef.
3. Lunch is an event in Barca. From the very best tapas at Cerveceria Catalana to a more chic brunch at Toc or a breezy Mediterranean mix at The Alma Garden restaurant – it is an experience much cherished daily.
4. Shopping for food is equally high on the list! Colmado Quilez is a treasure chest of spices, condiments, cheeses and meats; go on your last day so you can package it all for back home. St. Josep La Boqueria on the other hand, is a live food market and worth the stroll just for the sights, smells and samplings.
5. More than fashion, it’s been the home sections and jewellery in Barcelona that have excited me. Corium Casa has an eclectic selection and the renowned Vincon is a maze of everything a curated house needs. Sita Nevado gets my vote for the most exquisitely-finished costume baubles – I only wish I had bought more!
6. Gaudi, my Gaudi. It’s one thing to hear singing praises of this artistic architect, another thing altogether to stand in awe as you try to take in the extent of his genius as you walk through Park Guell, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera and the yet-unfinished La Sagrada Familia. But I wouldn’t discount the phenomenal 3500+ works holding fort at Picasso’s namesake museum either. This is a city of pure art, relish it.
7. Barcelona’s beachfront naturally signifies hours of sunbathing, sailing, surfing and a general fun-in-the-sun kind of day. The nights take on a life of their own though – start with potent cocktails at The Hotel W Eclipse bar and continue down to Shoko, a throbbing club that opens out to waves and acres of sand. There is no shortage of bars and clubs in this party-happy city; revellers start the evening late and one can choose from lazy bars like El Xampanyet (delightfully local), Bar Mut and Carrer D’Aribau. For some serious dance moves, trot to Angels & Kings, Buda or Sutton Club.
8. The Gothic Quarter or Barri Gòtic as it is called is a charming representation of what traditional Spain must have been. Its pride and joy, the Santa Maria Del Mar Basilica is a fitting queen to the locality, strewn as she is with spellbinding Gothic architecture. This is also the area to scout for typical and local fashion. La Manual Alpargatera is lined with ancient wooden benches where one daintily perches and admires their feet shod in summery espadrilles while Sombrereria Obach is famous for what else – sombreros.
9. From the traditional to the modern. El Born is Barcelona’s uber trendy district where home-grown designers and restaurants are making a heady name for themselves. Without a doubt, the prize for the latter goes to Comerc 24 – the best lunch I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying out. Eyes closed, go for their multiple-course tasting menu. Cristina Saura for her detailed handmade ready-to-wear separates and Natalie Capell for her super sexy boudoir style silks and satins caught my eye – and my purse strings.
10. Long lunches call for long siestas but don’t make the mistake of assuming that the merry-making eat-and-eat-more mantra of Barcelona ends post a long nap. High tea shops and pastry parlours thrive here; my icing-caked fingers point directly to Lolita or else Mauri. Oh, and let’s not forget Pudding. Such delicious names, aren’t they?