For the best insider tips on this city, think outside. With a skyline of architectural big-hitters and a sun that can actually be depended on, outdoors is where it’s at. And by ‘it’, we mean people-watching, pool-dipping and fizz-sipping – after all, you are neighbours with cava country. From sceney rooftops to bedrooms with impressive deck-awe (sorry), these are patio-perfect boutique hotels in Barcelona.
For Gaudí from the poolside
You only need peer up at Sir Victor’s curved balconies – designed by Capella Garcia Architecture to resemble an open book – to understand smart things are at play here with space. Outside, you’re one corner from Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona’s grandest shopping street. Inside, hipster hallmarks (a marble pool table, Peter Lindbergh hardbacks) are complemented by nature.
One wall of the dining room is glass, allowing you to raid the breakfast buffet like a criminal, then clear your conscience by gazing at a plant-filled courtyard. The spa and sauna also look onto a private garden – the gardener of which must know guests really well.
Sitting pretty The roof terrace is Barcelona’s best for Gaudí gawking. From your roof-edge pew (first dibs on the ledge inside the pool), tick off La Sagrada Familia to the left; ahead, the undulating rooftop of La Pedrera. Being a voyeur is best accompanied by a Kimchi Mary (Mary’s naughtier sister, thanks to capers, kimchi and a secret spicy saucy), kombucha by local LOV ferments, and the jumbo prawn salad with grilled corn and avo.
Decked out rooms Look for a private balcony facing the interior courtyard for a space snug enough for a seat and dapples of sunlight.
More open-air flair Les Filles Café, a five-minute stroll away, serves healthy brunch dishes in a secret back garden. While there, book in-demand Berbena – two doors up – for a seasonal dinner that sits you with the chefs.
For bedrooms with outdoor benefits
Consider Casa Bonay the benchmark in indoor-outdoor vibe. As bird of paradise plants stand outside like botanical security guards, the open-plan foyer flanks off into various attractions. Satan’s Coffee Shop brews devilish caffeine; Bodega Bonay pairs curveball tapas (think: pesto leeks and sweet ‘n’ sticky eel) with natural wines; at the back, Libertine bar offers coworking-strength wi-fi followed by moody-lit cocktails. To find your room, head towards the bathtub of plants. Once inside, expect striking tiled floors (all original) and slick industrial touches, such as sliding doors.
Sitting pretty The roof has two terrace options. For escapism, a private guests’ area offers thatch-sheltered sofas and a pen-line of sea view. For atmosphere, the Chiringuito (Spanish for beach shack) serves BBQ food, Three Gin Martinis and DJ sets that get the cool crowd toe-tapping.
Decked out rooms Three words: Courtyard Large Terrace. This is the room you want (and there are five), purely for what’s outside: a whopper of a terrace. There’s decking, a waterfall shower, a hammock, and sun-loungers that do great things to your vitamin D levels and terrible ones to your laptop-screen visibility. Which is vacay perfection, if you ask us.
More open-air flair Pedestrianised Arc de Triomf is 10 minutes away; palmy Ciutadella Park awaits at the end. Need fuel? Grab a vegan cake from Orval, baby sister to Espai Joliu – the achingly hip plant-and-coffee concept store in Poblenou.
YURBBAN PASSAGE HOTEL & SPA
For the under-the-radar rooftop
In a city of attention-stealers (let’s face it, Gaudí wasn’t exactly low key), you could easily saunter straight past Yurbban Passage. That discretion is a selling point when it comes to securing a spot on the rooftop – which is glass-edged for maximum eye appeal. Not that we’re encouraging you to sprint to top base: downstairs, a vegan spa occupies the vaults, where exposed brickwork (very Architectural Digest) meets modestly exposed limbs.
Sitting pretty OK, OK, get to the rooftop! Sun-beds peer into the distance, which offers a checklist of landmarks (such as Montjuïc hill) as well as a glimpse into local life via washing-laden roofs and succulent-stuffed balconies. The pool sits proudly along one edge – a rectangular posing heavyweight with a backdrop of Instagram dreams.
Decked out rooms The Yurbban Suite Terrace has one hell of an outdoor space. The terrace alone is 26m2, which, in many cities, could be an actual studio apartment. Here, it’s simply home to sun-loungers, a view-blessed dining set-up and, naturally, an ice bucket.
More open-air flair The passage in Yurbban’s name connects smart Eixample to the winding, who-knows-what-you’ll-find lanes of El Born, making this prime strolling and snapping territory. With a shopfront made entirely of mosaics, Marea Verde on Calle Bruc is the most photogenic pharmacy-turned-florist you’ll ever see.
For serenity in the city
The best place to stay in Barcelona if you want to relax outside without having to compete with a subwoofer to have a conversation. The Alma is a serene queen – elegant, pared back, sophisticated like your French friend who chucks on jeans and looks like she’s come from a Vogue photoshoot. While there is a rooftop (generally open in summer), the garden is the scene – for coffee, cocktails, and deciding which interior piece you need the retail details on. (We’d bet the lamps).
Sitting pretty The garden is a magnet for guests <and> locals: one, because it’s beautiful; two, because nowhere else in central Barcelona offers a space like it. Tables and sofas are scattered among the trees, giving you shade and privacy with a splice of people-watching. There’s a casual bar menu (featuring the obligatory jamón ibérico and croquettes – try aubergine and feta), but the mood gets romantic under evening candlelight when live jazz trickles out from the bar’s Thursday-evening sets.
Decked out rooms Windows are a floor-to-ceiling event: choose a Grand Deluxe room for a garden outlook, or an Executive Suite for two sets of windows plus herringbone floors, which really nail the neo-classical design brief.
More open-air flair Wander three blocks to Enric Granados, a partly pedestrianised street that’s lined with terrace dining. Take dessert in cone form at Dela Crem – Barcelona’s best gelato – where flavours are listed (and rapidly devoured and scrubbed out) on an hourly changing blackboard.
For the social media (hot)shot
The Kimpton Vividora may be a newbie on the Gothic quarter’s hotel scene, but it doesn’t take long for whispers of a good thing to spread. The rooftop, with laidback DJs, sunrise yoga classes and a pet-friendly policy, is chillout perfection – particularly if you like a pooch for a pool-mate. Then there’s the design: sunset-toned leathers, geometric tiles, a jungle of plants, and enough photo opportunities to stop even a seen-it-all social media user in their scroll.
Sitting pretty A few things elevate the Vividora’s rooftop from its competitors. The staff are best-mate friendly – no ‘I’m too cool to serve’ vibes here (even if they are, indeed, very cool). Ditto the poolside vibe, which encourages posing (cue the artfully positioned giant beanbags) but doesn’t give off pretentious fumes. The pool is also metal-sided to absorb the sun’s heat, meaning you can shimmy in without making a facial expression that you don’t want immortalised online.
Decked out rooms Outside space elevates suites from entry-level rooms – ask for one on a corner for multi-directional views.
More open-air flair Two Schmucks on a Terrace – 10 minutes’ walk away in edgy Raval – is not only the best-named all-day food joint, but the most moreish. The cocktail-fluent team achieved number 26 status on the World’s Best Bars ranking, before branching out into carby stuff to mop liquor up. The tacos – stuffed with soy and ginger beef, pickles, mint, and a wickedly fiery cucumber, mango, chilli and lime dressing – are outrageous.
For urban vibes inside
A former office building isn’t the sexiest backstory. But rather than ignore its previous life, Ohla Eixample stripped off the strip lighting, added in the mother of all soundproofing jobs, and retained unconventional features to create an urban aesthete’s dream. Steel columns stand proudly against cement bedroom floors and limewashed walls; you might be inside, but there’s an edgy, industrial feel that’s like a modern art gallery meets a carpark. In a rather sexy way.
Sitting pretty One feature that definitely wasn’t around in the office-block era is the rooftop infinity pool that lets you bob about feeling on top of the world. It’s heated (kerching!), with bar service only a few backstrokes away. Now that’s what we call a remuneration package.
Decked out rooms For a terrace, you need to plump for a suite or the penthouse, while a Design Deluxe room offers a balcony. Glass-walled bathrooms add to the open-plan, loft-esque mood – though, depending on how intimately you want to know your travel buddy, you may need a shower equivalent of a safe word.
More open-air flair Stroll 15 minutes and you’ll be at Casa Vicens – the first private house Gaudí designed. Visually, it’s a kaleidoscopic mismatch of styles that shouldn’t work at all, but absolutely does. It also has an outdoor coffee shop by Hofmann (creator of Barcelona’s best croissants), and a first-rate gift shop that goes way, way beyond the usual tourist drivel.
From these heights, you can also see our complete collection of hotels in Barcelona