The only thing that can improve a two Michelin-starred restaurant in Barcelona is not having to go home after dining. At ABaC Restaurant & Hotel you don’t have to – head straight from sampling the decadent tasting menu to your white and gleaming bedroom, or down to the equally pristine subterranean ABaC spa.
Get this when you book through us:
A spectacular fruit sculpture and one free admission to the ABaC spa a person
Noon, but may be flexible depending on availability. Check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £157.89 (€185), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast (€30 each).
The hotel has a fleet of Mercedes Benz at your disposal, and you can arrange to take the wheel of a Ferrari or Lamborghini if you fancy cruising the streets of Barcelona in style or to try them out on a racing circuit. Or, if speed is not of the essence, hire a Segway.
At the hotel
ABaC spa with Jacuzzi, hammam, cold plunge pool, heated sunbeds and juice bar (€25 a person a day); free WiFi throughout. In rooms: huge B&O flatscreen TV with MS Office and internet, DVD/CD player, remote control lights and blinds, minibar, Jacuzzi bath, Hermès toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Ask for the Penthouse; it has two chaise longue-style love seats at the end of the bed and a wrap-around terrace with a Jacuzzi and shower, so you need never leave the room to enjoy the Barcelona sunshine. The bathroom has a limestone island in the centre with double sinks, and a Jacuzzi bath set up for colour therapy sessions. All ABaC’s rooms are dreamily decorated in whites and warm neutrals, with little pops of colour added by velvety purple blankets and throw pillows. To top the gadgetry stakes, all suites include iPads.
The hotel doesn’t have a swimming pool, but in the ABaC spa, there’s a relaxation pool with submerged hammocks for watery relaxation.
Splendid subterranean spa with hammam, chromotherapy and thermal pool with submerged hammocks.
Bring your sleekest swimwear to showcase in the spa – a black Missoni cut-away will match the bathrobes you’ll find in your room.
Baby cots are available and sitters can be arranged (€40 an hour, plus seven per cent VAT), but ABaC is not ideal for youngsters.
Low energy lightbulbs are used throughout the hotel, which is designed to make use of natural light as possible, and everything that can be is recycled. Electricity in rooms operates on a keycard-based power system to conserve energy.
Ask for a corner table in the smaller back room, which has a more intimate atmosphere, or, if weather and availability oblige, request a spot outside in the courtyard.
Michelin man (ties, not tyres).
This is the hotel’s headline act, with acclaimed chef Jordi Cruz at its helm. The distinctive fusion cuisine has earned ABaC two Michelin stars, making it a landmark on Barcelona's gastronomic map. It would be a culinary crime to miss the 11- or 19-course tasting menu, which features such foodie fireworks as Iberian suckling pig paired with mango tatin and bamboo-steamed foie gras, all served on patterned Versace china.
A cavernous underground space riddled with nooks and dotted with leather chesterfields, the hotel’s lounge stone-arched bar has a futuristic edge – the lighting around the perimeter changes colour slowly, steadily and theatrically over the evening. The wine cellar holds more than 800 labels.
The restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The rest of the week, take lunch from 1.30pm to 4pm and dine from 8.30pm–11pm. The bar opens from Tuesday to Saturday, keeping the G&Ts flowing until 2am.
The nearest airport is Barcelona (BCN), more often known as El Prat. It takes about 15 minutes to drive there. There’s also a half-hourly direct train from terminal A to the centre of Barcelona, and buses leave the airport for the city centre every 15 minutes. There’s even a bus stop directly outside the hotel.
Barcelona Sants Station is about 5km from ABaC; ask the hotel to arrange a reliable taxi. Trains are operated by Renfe (www.renfe.es), and go to Barcelona to Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza and Granada. The city itself has an excellent metro and bus network.
You won’t need a car for sightseeing; in the upper zone of Barcelona, the hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the city’s key players, and the bus and metro services are extensive. If you do decide to drive, the hotel offers valet parking at a daily rate of €40, or you can choose from a selection of Mercedes to navigate the city in style.
The hotel offers a fleet of Segways for eco-friendly exploration of the city.
Worth getting out of bed for
ABaC is well suited to petrolheads – the hotel can arrange for you to spend a day gunning Ferrari or Lamborghini around a racing circuit. If that’s too adrenaline-heavy, hire a Segway for a tour of the Gothic quarters or the Gaudi route. There’s a personal shopper on hand to help you navigate Barcelona’s boutiques. For fantastic views, take the funicular to the top of Mount Tibidabo, where you’ll find the city’s oldest (and now only) amusement park.
As befits the most accomplished restaurant in Barcelona, ABaC keeps abreast of the competition, and can point even the pickiest diners in the direction of superior sustenance. El Asador de Aranda in Tibidabo is devoted to classic Castilian cuisine, serving delicious clay-oven cooked lamb washed down with fine Ribera del Duero wines. Its terrace is ideal for summer dining. Located on the Tibidabo mountainside, La Venta is two restaurants in one, both offering sweeping city views and excellent Mediterranean cuisine. The upper eatery, El Mirador de la Venta offers the most dramatic views, but just seven tables to enjoy them from, so book early.
The cocktails are average and the music commercial, but at Mirablau (+34 93 418 58 79), everything comes second to the mind-blowing city views. Right beside the Tibidabo funicular, the view from the colossal windows stretches right to the sea.
Modern minimalist Barcelona boutique stay ABaC Restaurant & Hotel undeniably has an impressive address. Situated on the edge of Plaza John F Kennedy, where both Calle Balmes and the L7 metro begin their journeys across the Catalan capital, and from where the old, wooden Tram Blau (blue tram) starts its climb up to the best views of the city, it sits in seriously uptown Barcelona. This is the part of town furthest from the sea, where the haute bourgeoisie built their edge-of-town palaces, and where the heroes of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s novel The Shadow of the Wind first made love. The ideal setting, then, for a Mr & Mrs Smith weekend.
ABaC itself is a turn-of-the-millennium modern masterpiece. Even though one of its two buildings was built at the end of the 19th century, there’s not a trace of historical quaintness to be found. From the moment that we enter the outer gate from the street, cross over the large paving stones in the carefully manicured garden and descend in the glass elevator to its subterranean reception, we’re struck by how up-to-the-minute everything is. Amazing, considering that the hotel was a bit of an afterthought. Its sole reason for existence is to provide 15 well-appointed bedrooms to accompany a two Michelin-star restaurant.
When we check in, the staff are polite and welcoming; they ask us how our journey was, and whether we’re going to need any maps or information on the city. Mrs Smith and I, Barcelona dwellers both, smile sheepishly. There is something particularly wonderful about staying at a hotel in your own city; it represents the ultimate escapism. Just half an hour earlier, we’d been baking birthday cakes at home with our three young children, my wife oblivious of the real treat to come. Now, we’re thoroughly cocooned in a bubble of modern comfort and luxury, thick double-glazed windows cutting out all trace of the Friday-night city din, and there’s not a child in sight.
We are shown swiftly around the hotel – the spa, the restaurant where we are to dine later and the cool lounge bar – before taking the lift up to our room. Now, I’m not a huge fan of Continental designer cool – my preferred interiors style design is probably best described as Anglo-Irish shabby chic – but I’ve been to enough hotels in the Mr & Mrs Smith collection to vouch for the fact that the ABaC bedrooms are as good as you can get if you like that kind of thing. There’s an enormous Bang & Olufsen TV and remote-control curtains to fulfil all techy fantasies, and the bed comes with huge puffy pillows, crisp linen sheets and a super-comfy mattress from Treca de Paris. Before you can say ‘hot bubbles’, Mrs Smith has taken her glass of white Rueda wine into the in-room Jacuzzi, and spends the next 20 minutes or so giggling hysterically as the water changes from green to red to blue.
Refreshed, we head down to dinner and take our place among the other well-dressed couples in the restaurant. At this point, I must hold my hands up and say that my favourite Spanish restaurants are the ones that only the locals know about; the kind of places with questionable 1970s decor that serve simply grilled prawns and langoustines on a bed of fresh salad. I am a little sceptical, then of a restaurant with two Michelin stars and a famous penchant for El Bullí-style experimental cooking.
However, Mrs Smith (who, having grown up on fantastic Spanish food, can be incredibly fussy) and I are completely seduced. From the first mouthful of fabulous, nutty Languedoc olives to the final fork of exquisite mushroom, avocado and crab tartare, the food never stops delighting our tastebuds. In retrospect, my only regret is not getting up in between one of the many light but delicious courses to watch the chef and his team at work. But by the time we drifted contentedly past the kitchen on our way up to bed, there were just a handful of the team left doing the wash down.
Back in our room, my wife soon succumbs to the comfort of the enormous bed; so I choose to stay up a little while longer and lie on the sofa by the window, drinking the last of the Rueda and gazing up at the flickering lights of the ancient amusement park atop Tibidabo. After a while, tiredness starting to swamp me, I get up and attempt to close the curtains with the remote control. But, try as I might, I can’t manage it, so, putting it down to drunkenness, I give up and go to bed.
When we wake up, I’m glad all my curtain-closing efforts came to nothing. Bright sunshine streams through the windows, alerting us to the deep-blue sky and glorious Mediterranean morning outside. We lounge in bed for an hour or two, putting off the inevitable return to our three little darlings at home for as long as we possibly can. If we’d have been better organised, we decide, we would have made sure we’d had the time (and the swimwear) to visit the ABaC spa, and we’d have treated ourselves to one of the many treatments on offer. Another day, perhaps…
On checking out, we confess to the receptionist that neither of us could make the curtains close. She apologises, and politely suggests that it was probably a mechanical fault. Only a day ago, I’d have scoffed at this, and no doubt launched into a searing condemnation of modern technology and how it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. But now I just smile and tell her it doesn’t matter. I have been thoroughly seduced by ABaC Restaurant & Hotel, and she’s not going to hear any complaints from me.