I’m a bit dazed. As I step out of the cab outside boutique hotel Meliá Barcelona Sky, I’m immediately struck by the giant green-and-blue building that soars up and up from the pavements of Carrer Pere IV. In elegant, vehemently low-rise Barcelona – known for its curving, art nouveau Gaudí-isms – skyscrapers most definitely aren’t the norm. I’m still looking up, open-mouthed, at its summit when I stumble face-first into a revolving door, which promptly spins around and disgorges me into the hotel’s stylish and sexy lobby. A bemused-looking Mr Smith is left standing outside with our luggage.
We’re staying on the Level – the VIP-friendly part of the hotel in which all the premium rooms are to be found – so we head up 25 floors in the lift to a check-in desk that offers breathtaking views over the city. Everything’s a bit special on the Level, you see. Food and drinks are complimentary, there’s a private cinema and games room, and you’re extremely unlikely to bump into anyone wearing a bum bag and ‘I love Barcelona’ baseball cap. Once he’s finished interrogating the concierge about restaurants and dancing venues for the evening ahead, Mr Smith thoughtfully slips into the conversation that we’re in town to celebrate my birthday. In a blur of well-chosen black clothing, the concierge disappears to the bar at the end of the lounge and produces two flutes of crisp, chilled Cava. We clink glasses and toast what I can’t help thinking is going to be a wonderful weekend.
Glasses still in hand, we enter our largely darkened room on the 21st floor and throw back the drapes to reveal floor-to-ceiling windows. Mr Smith, a vertigo sufferer, recoils, but I ease myself onto the glass-side chaise longue and spend several minutes gazing down on the impressive sea vistas. The dazzling hotel pool, with its requisite bronzed bodies draped over bright-red Balinese beds, is also directly below. I know where I’m going to be spending tomorrow. ‘There’s a sun lounger down there with my name on it,’ I inform Mr Smith, who is too busy plugging his iPod into the Tango X2 audio system to take much notice of me. He’s already fallen in love with the in-room gadgetry, though I’m more impressed by the Nespresso coffee maker beside our bed and the lovely Aveda products in the bathroom.
Dressed to the nines and feeling ‘birthday fabulous’, we slip down to the Sky Lounge Bar to join our friends who’ve accompanied us from London for the weekend. They offer birthday wishes and enthusiastic nods of approval at my choice of hotel. We sit on white, L-shaped couches to sip more Cava and survey our surroundings. Rectangles of blood-red carpet provide vibrant splashes of colour on the glossy white floor while the light fittings above look like rolls of unravelling paper. A sleek, rectangular bar sits beneath a lamp that looks like a giant baby’s mobile, and an attractive female DJ spins some funky, chilled-out tunes on the decks nearby. By now, we’re feeling cooler than the bottle-filled ice buckets in front of us.
After drinks, we enjoy a delicious dinner of high-end tapas – jamon iberico de bellota, truffle omelettes and freshly grilled seafood – in the lively Sky Food Bar, which winds up around 1.30am. We then head for Port Olympia, just a few blocks from the hotel, where there are a multitude of stylish clubs and bars that face directly onto the beach. Afterwards – we’re having a big night, OK? – we troop back to Angels and Kings, the super-sexy Catalan sister of the infamous New York and Chicago hangouts, which is ideally situated on the sixth floor of our hotel. Mr Smith and I feel incredibly rock ’n’ roll as we swan up the red carpet, straight past the queue and flash our room keys to the doorman. We dance until the wee small hours, then take the short trip up in the lift to where our comfy king-size bed awaits.
After waking to freshly made espressos and what can only be described as 'breakfast tapas' – tiny pots of yoghurt topped with fresh-fruit compote, baby pastries, squares of omelette, cheeses and charcuterie – from the Level Lounge buffet, we don our finest swimwear and make a beeline for those red sun loungers down at ground level. The soothing sound of water trickling into the glamorous metallic pool, and the blissed-out beats emanating from hidden speakers, lull me off into a sensuous and satisfying siesta.
Afterwards, half our party heads to Gaudí’s Park Güell for a culture fix, while the foodies among us make our way over to La Boqueria, a bustling, undercover food market just off Las Ramblas. Here, we sample melt-in-the-mouth jamon, moreish Manchego and artfully displayed anchovies, before tucking into delicious grilled prawns, cooked-to-perfection squid and the biggest scallops I have ever seen at one of the busy marketside tapas bars. Then we walk off our accrued calories on the beach, where locals gather to play music and volleyball in the sunshine. Back at Meliá Barcelona Sky, we treat ourselves to sunset cocktails and picture-perfect views from the 24th floor outdoor terrace.
That night, we do it all again. The drinking, the dining, the clubbing, the falling into bed at 4.30am… So, by Sunday morning, I’m starting to feel far older than my new age. Mr Smith and I take advantage of the late checkout that he’s thoughtfully arranged, and spend those extra hours luxuriating in the downstairs ME Spa. Lying on a warm marble slab in the hammam, a masseuse’s fingers undoing all the knots in my back, I reflect on our blissful weekend in the Catalan capital. It’s been fascinating, luxurious and unbelievably cool – exactly like Meliá Barcelona Sky. I’ll definitely be back. I guess you could say I’ve found my Level.