Worth getting out of bed for
Make the most of Meliá Barcelona Sky’s YHI Spa, and treat yourself to an afternoon of pampering and a trial of the spa’s hydrotherapy circuit. Treatments are based around Aztec and Mayan rituals, and therapies and the organic products are locally sourced. There can be few things more relaxing and restorative than the spa’s underwater massage chairs, overlooking the ocean.
The hotel overlooks the 5.5 hectare Parc del Centrede Poble Nou, designed by architect Jean Nouvel. Enter the giant sustainable garden through a Gaudí-esque gate, promenade through its romantic forest and woodlands, and explore the old Oliva-Artés factory, which is by stunning willows, lianas and flowers of every description.
Gaudí’s famous work in progress, La Sagrada Familia cathedral, is just a short taxi drive from the Meliá Barcelona Sky. Visit the museum inside and watch the stonemasons industriously carving stones to be used in the building, as the controversial continuation of Gaudí’s 1882 beginnings gathers pace.
Visit the old part of Poble Nou, which once housed fishermen within its narrow, winding streets. Despite all the recent renovations, the area has retained its traditional Catalan charm, and is a tranquil and attractive setting. Compared to the tourist trap of Las Ramblas in central Barcelona, Rambla de Poble Nou offers picturesque, tree-lined charm and local feeling. There are even age-old shops and bars to explore, and Mar Bella beach awaits you at the end.
For the finest, freshest fishy feast, sit beneath the wooden beams at El Pescadors (+34 932 240 004) on Plaça Prim and choose from salt-water wonders such as calamari, prawns, angler fish fricandó, tuna with pickled Figueres onions or hake with romesco bread and leek mousseline sauce. One of Barcelona’s most famous restaurants, Botafumeiro (+34 932 184 230) on Carrer Gran De Gràcia has seduced and sated foodies for more than 25 years with its traditional cuisine, culture and professional standards. The menu blends Catalan and Galician influences, with particular emphasis on seafood and sweets. If you prefer your snails on salad lettuce rather than garden lettuce, head to Los Caracoles (+34 933 023 185) on Carrer Escudellers. The restaurant, named after the garden-munchers, pays homage to them both in décor (mosaic snails adorn the walls) and in the menu. For the squeamish, there’s delicious paella and grilled chicken or fish. Agua (+34 932 251 272), on Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, is one of the busiest and best seaside restaurants, thanks to its beachfront location and moreish Mediterranean cuisine. Admire the warm, welcoming colonial-style interior, but head for the highlight – the beautiful beachfront terrace right on the boardwalk. Be sure to try Agua’s unique coal-cooked rice. You can snack on tapas if you just want a mainly liquid dinner.
You can’t get any more local than a bar within your hotel and at Meliá Barcelona Sky, you have not one but two nightspots to choose from. Firstly, there’s the lobby’s Sky Lounge Bar; secondly, on the sixth floor, there’s New York import Angels and Kings. It’s dark, Victorian and edgy, and features opulent furnishings and graffiti-inspired artworks, a stage at the back and access to the outdoor pool.
Bestial (+34 932 240 407) on Carrer Ramon Trias Fargas is a minimalist and modern beachfront restaurant. Along with its Italian-influenced menu, the restaurant serves up cocktails and live music till 2am. Enjoy the excellent sea views as you sip a fruity creation or linger over limoncello sorbet in the wooden garden terrace. Be sure to admire the mural by Frederic Amat on the windows as well. The bar also has video-art exhibitions and open-air projections, so boredom is never on the menu. If you’re feeling spontaneous, head down to Villa Olympica and walk along the beach; the myriad of cabana bars (or chiringuitos) attract butterfly-flocks of good-looking locals and will keep you dancing till dawn if you so desire.