A weekend break in Barcelona By Dawn M. France
As women travellers we have become more savvy with our choice of holidays, and we demand more. We no longer book a weekend break, cross our fingers and hope we don't end up in a hotel which boasts soggy mattresses, dusty chipped china, and mouldy shower curtains.
I travelled with the highly acclaimed Mr & Mrs Smith, the company which brought you fabulous hotel guides and now offers the best handpicked boutique hotels with unrivalled luxury, exceptional style and design.
Mr & Mrs Smith have worked hard to ensure its travellers only receive the best choice in boutique hotels, a portfolio which marries city chic with coastal cool. Just a two-hour flight from Manchester airport, flying with Monarch Airways, takes you to one of Mr & Mrs Smith's boutique hotels, the Hotel Neri, Barcelona. The Neri has all the right elements of designer chic. Housed in an 18th-century former palace in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, it is within walking distance of Placa Catalunya, which boasts trendy tapas restaurants and bars.
The hotel's interior is dramatic, a marriage of striking Gothic architecture with richly coloured contemporary decor and soft furnishings. The interior is sexy and chic, and includes ornate metalwork, pieces of art placed on exposed brickwork and gilded mirrors hanging on stone walls. A variety of rich colours and luxurious textures all give the Neri an opulent charm. You cannot help but unwind in this hotel as you enjoy the relaxing music, which adds to its unmistakable sense of sophistication, style and glamour.
If you are inspired by the decorations of the Neri, you can book a bespoke service to create a piece of furnishing which has caught your eye.
The hotel offers a range of services including a personal trainer, should you wish to take charge of your exercise regime while holidaying.
You can also hire bicycles from the hotel and explore Barcelona. To help ensure your weekend at the Neri is stress free, you are greeted by the fragrance of joss sticks in your room, bringing a sense of wellbeing as you enjoy the delicate scent in your personal space.
On leaving the hotel, you experience Barcelona, a magical city with its modern mansions, Gothic Quarter and stunning architecture. A stylish Mediterranean city, it has its own language, customs, and cutting edge designs. The city hosts an array of restaurants, from fine cuisine to tapas bars. Cafe society spills out onto the pavement at every turn, and is filled with diversity of rich aromas and with the sound of laughter and conversation.
Barcelona is a vibrant city which offers fine art galleries such as the Museu d'Art Contemporani and the Museu Picasso, both well worth a visit. The city has excellent shopping. Head to L'Illa; this is Barcelona's biggest shopping mall. You can find all the chain stores here, as well as a number of smart boutiques. If you're looking for a weekend break which offers style, elegance and designer chic, visit the online hotel directory at www.mrandmrssmith.com.