Fall in Barcelona serves up two delicious seasons in one: Mediterranean summer sun by day turns to cool breezes designed for strolling by night. That—not to mention airfares that have finally come back down to earth—is good reason to hop a flight to Spain and check out two fabulous newbies on the Barcelona scene, both opened in the months before the pandemic and thus enjoying their real debuts this year.
NOBU HOTEL BARCELONA Ever love a restaurant so much you want to move in? That’s the concept behind the nearly decade-old Nobu Hotel brand. The Japanese eatery won legions of fans by eschewing the trendy for the effortlessly excellent. These are certainly promising qualities for a hotel—and Nobu Hotel Barcelona delivers. The aesthetic is minimalist and refined, with dark woods, bronze accents, clean lines and artful Japanese touches: slippers and robes, tea sets, ink paintings and Kintsugi craft-pottery décor. Stunning cityscape views from almost all of the 259 rooms and suites remind you that you are, in fact, in Catalan and not Japan; I had the glorious experience of taking a bath alongside the famous Sagrida Familia, visible from the palatial bathroom of my serene 22nd-floor suite.
Other highlights include a hyper-convenient location, near Plaza de España and across the street from Sants train station; a soothing spa in the basement featuring Natura Bisse products and a plunge pool (the 3D Collagen Shock treatment lives up to its name); a cocktail bar in the lobby serving up divine tapas (for when you’re—gasp!—tired of sushi); and, of course, the namesake eatery, perched atop it all and affording you the once-in-a-lifetime experience of feasting on all your Nobu favorites while feasting your eyes on panoramic vistas of an iconic city.
SIR VICTOR HOTEL You came to Barcelona to shop, ogle Gaudi masterpeices, clock in some beach time and, generally speaking, catch a vibe like a local. Sir Victor Hotel lets you do all the above—in style. The chic 91-room property is located right off shopping mecca Paseo de Gracia, a few steps from Gaudí masterpiece Casa Milà and within walking distance of other Gaudi icons; it’s also a short drive from the beach and as embedded in local style and culture as could be. This is obvious on entry: the funky lobby is decked out in art by Barcelona-based artists, and the MR PORTER steakhouse is buzzing with local trendsetters.
Mostly attracting locals, though, is The Club, which the hotel doubles as: a members’ club complete with coworking space and a full calendar of activities, from book talks to DJ nights—all of which hotel guests can partake in. And oh, did I. I loved the plush Club space, complete with curated collection of books dedicated to the legacy of Caterina Albert i Paradís, a 19th-century Catalonian feminist author for whom the hotel is named (passing as a man, her penname was Victor Català) and the reason the property’s façade resembles a book. The Club staff advised me on cultural happenings in town and invited me back for their Fall programming.
They also sagely pointed me to the rooftop, where there were DJ sessions every evening. There I swam in the lap pool and dined on beef and lamb meatballs, seared Hamachi with ajo blanco, Greek salad and swordfish with lemon and oregano. Before checking out I treated myself to one of the most therapeutic massages of my life at The Signature Spa, the first organic and vegan spa in Spain—a true gem.
LOCAL TIPS Yes, it’s a trendy hotel chain, but The Barcelona Edition has “local” down to a tee. I spent a sexy evening there, first dining at Bar Alegria, an homage to classic Catalan cuisine: there was truffle tortilla, lamb stew, anchovy toast, potato salad (oddly enough, a Catalan staple) and an extensive local wine list. I talked books and politics with the wise, witty bartenders on the roof, which also boasts an Asian street food menu and bountiful city views. Then, heading downstairs to the basement club Cabaret, decked out in red velvet and oozing with sensuality, I sipped a Bocaccio (made from Mezcal, Amaro Montenegro, Blackberry Sage Cordial and Lime Juice) and pretended it was 1974 and I was in the Spanish edition—pun intended!—of Studio 54. The following night I took things in a whole other direction, enjoying West African eats and tunes at Kabongo, a lovely a restaurant and lounge. After many nights of feasting on tapas, a grand plate of jollof rice was a welcome treat.