The nearest airport is Barcelona’s El Prat, roughly 20 minutes away by car. A taxi will cost €30. Trains run from Terminal A to the city centre every 30 minutes, and there’s also a shuttle service, which leaves the airport every 15 minutes. Hop out at the Plaça Catalunya station, which is conveniently close to the hotel.
The closest station, Plaça Catalunya, is a leisurely five minutes’ stroll from the hotel. The majority of metro and bus routes pass through the station, linking it with all of the districts of Barcelona. Take Line 1 or Line 3 on the metro to get to the hotel. If you’re thinking of venturing outside the city, you can get to Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza or Bilbao by train from Barcelona’s main railway station, Estació de Sants.
The hotel is central, so stick to metro and bus routes for travel around the city. If you do decide to drive, the hotel offers parking for around €25 a day. If you’re coming from France, take the AP-7 from the French border down to Barcelona. Driving from Madrid will take a bit longer: six hours on the A2, via Zaragoza.
Worth getting out of bed for
The most celebrated of Barcelona’s food markets, Mercat de la Boquería, just off Las Ramblas, is the best place to stock up for a Catalan picnic. Find jamón ibérico, manchego cheese, membrillo (quince preserve) and Manzanilla fino sherry in troves, or mingle with locals at the market’s various tapas bars. Bar Pinotxo is one of the most popular counter bars, due to it’s exceptional daily specials, such as squid and bean stew, and fresh sharing platters – arrive early to avoid the queues (+34 933 171 731). Barcelona has a strong artistic legacy: visit Antoni Gaudi’s iconic Sagrada Família (still under construction, after all these years), and wander through Unesco-protected Park Güell to see Gaudi’s characteristic, irregularly laid trencadis tiles. Glimpse the works of Spanish greats – including the headline acts – at the Museu Picasso (+34 93 2 563 000) and Fundació Joan Miró (+34 934 439 470). Sun-worshippers can soak up the rays on Barceloneta beach, or a row a boat on the lake in Parc de la Ciutadella – also home to the Trevi-inspired Cascada fountain.
With an enviable beachside location, much of Barcelona’s dining scene celebrates fresh and flavourful seafood; head to Botafumeiro (+34 932 184 230) on Carrer Gran de Gràcia for some of the best spiney lobster, seafood cannelloni and locally caught fish. Further afield, seaside Agua (+34 932 251 272) has a delightful terrace for alfresco dining and a tempting tapas menu. Blow the budget at Michelin-star-holding Via Veneto, which has an exceptional wine cellar and delightful modern cuisine (+ 34 93 200 72 44). For addictive, high-quality tapas we like Tapas24, headed up by Michelin-acclaimed chef Carles Abellan, who crafts a mix of classic favourites, such as ibérico croquettes, and changing specials.
Those seeking sweet treats should head for Farm Viader (+34 933 183 486) where Cacaolat, Catalonia's own drinking chocolate, and crema Catalana (a Spanish crème brûlée) are the order of the day. Don’t let Tonka Bar’s slightly shabby exterior fool you: this tiny cafè has exceptional tapas, pies and quiches (at extremely affordable prices), and all-organic meat, eggs and tofu (+34 931 270 544).
Spanish bar culture partners moreish snacks with delicious sangrias, sherries and spirits; try Gimlet (+34 93 201 5306) on Calle Santaló for killer cocktails, or Can Cisa Bar Brutal, a tavern-style bar with a lavishly stocked wine cellar, offering more than 300 bottles, and traditional tapas (+34 932 95 4797). Toast the city sights at Sky Bar on the roof terrace of Grand Hotel Central – sip a Central Tonic (the hotel’s own take on a G&T) while gazing over El Born’s rooftops.