Situated just a hop, skip and jump from Plaça Catalunya, and within easy reach of the city’s Gothic and El Born quarters, Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona is a design-conscious delight. From the ornate front desk – made from gilt-edged panels taken from a Sicilian church – through to the Asian-inspired themes in the communal areas, and even the simply framed artworks in all the rooms, a laid-back, arty feel pervades throughout.
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A welcome glass of wine or cava and homemade cookies
We love the Pulitzer Extra rooms, which have the feel of an architect’s studio. The starkness of their design means that touches such as the high-gloss black doors, which come with English-style brass knockers, and hinged headboards upholstered in vertical black pinstripe really stand out. They also come with their own seating areas.
There is no swimming pool at Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona – all guests, however, can use the facilities at the nearby Holmes Place Fitness Centre for a small fee.
Balenciaga finery for swanning around the rooftop terrace bar on warm, sultry nights.
The hotel offers a programme of live music during the summer months.
Kids are welcome, though Pulitzer doesn’t consider itself to be a family hotel. Children’s facilities are at a minimum, though babysitting with a local nanny is available from €10 an hour.
The large, banquet-style table in the centre of the room is great for big, noisy groups. But let's face it, you're in Barcelona: the atmosphere's going to be great anywhere.
Loose, open-necked shirts for him; smart shoulder-revealing dresses for her. With a stylish rooftop bar just a lift ride away, you’ll want your evening attire to take you effortlessly into the night.
A green haven in the heart of the city, tropical plants and potted palms abound in Pulitzer's new Greenhouse Restaurant. Large glass windows enhance the effect of being in a gardener's potting shed and the menu prides itself on market-fresh produce. Organic wines from small vineyards cap of the earthy, bucolic feel. The weekly-changing lunch menu features many tasty dishes like roasted pork loin with hazelnut vinaigrette.
On winter weekends, the hotel throws on laid-back, afternoon sessions at its sixth-floor Pulitzer Vermut terrace, with cocktails, music, newspapers and blankets, plus a tapas selection of Catalan-style patatas bravas (potatoes), croquetas and more. Come summer, the blankets get thrown off, and the party really gets started, with DJs, bands and acoustic sets drawing a young, fashionable crowd. If you're looking for a more sedate drink, the open-to-all Lobby Bar throws on a mix of lazy couches, delicious cakes and coffees, with cocktails and a chilled-out, Shazam-worthy soundtrack.
The Greenhouse Restaurant serves weekday lunches from 1pm-4pm; the sixth-floor Pulitzer Vermut bar opens on winter weekends (October-April; noon-4pm); the Pulitzer Terrace from 6pm-12am (May-September).
Guests can order from a comprehensive menu of snacks and light meals between 7am and midnight.
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. 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 and Fundació Joan Miró. 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 on Carrer Gran de Gràcia for some of the best spiney lobster, seafood cannelloni and locally caught fish. Further afield, seaside Agua has a delightful terrace for alfresco dining and a tempting tapas menu. Blow the budget at Via Veneto, which has an exceptional wine cellar and delightful modern cuisine. For addictive, high-quality tapas we like Tapas24, headed up by 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 where Cacaolat, Catalonia's own drinking chocolate, and crema Catalana (a Spanish crème brûlée) are the order of the day.
Spanish bar culture partners moreish snacks with delicious sangrias, sherries and spirits; try Gimlet 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. 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.
We have quite the trip planned. Not the usual Mr & Mrs Smith weekend away: but a whopping 600km holiday spanning Spain and France. Jealous? Wait until you get a real flavour of our Spanish sojourn. The amuse bouche to this travel banquet? A spell at the Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona. After landing from New York, my wife and I head straight to the Pulitzer in our rented Mini Cooper Cabriolet – our spin down Carrer de Bergara certainly whets our appetite for adventure.
Parisian-style Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona is located on a quiet side street juxtaposed with the busy Cataluña Square off La Rambla. Any post-transit hunch in my shoulders relaxes the moment we enter Pulitzer's calming, open and airy reception: perhaps it’s the clean lines and peaceful ambience, or maybe it’s the artiness. Floors of rich mahogany support leather couches, mid-century chairs, ottomans and natural plants – it’s all utterly modern but not intimidatingly contemporary.
Welcomed by the friendly Amanda at the front desk, and hearing that our room is not ready so early in the morning, we collapse in the comfortable lounge. Striking splashes of red and white and Rothko-esque pieces adorning every wall make this bar area buzz with creativity. I order water (sin gas, if you’d like the details) and for Mrs Smith: a combination of homemade chocolate and coconut gelato (a dose of food porn to keep your interest piqued). Sinking into oversized white leather sofas, we feel immediately at home. What a great way to begin these American Smiths' 10 days in Europe...
Our serotonin levels soon get another boost. Having booked a superior double, the treat of a suite – room 516 – is excellent news. Another hit of happy hormones comes with a step past our large wooden door and thanks to the sight of a four-poster bed dressed with fresh white linens. In front is a large modern desk with connections and outlets that make sense, even to Americans. To the left of the bed is an Arne Jacobson-style egg chair. But most beguiling are the huge sliding glass doors that lead to a big potted-plant-studded terrace. Two large awnings shade us from that midday Spanish sun at the touch of a button. An outdoor shower is there, meanwhile, to promise exhibitionists an extra thrill. A couple of inviting chaise longues and a big square teak table with four chairs indicate that more reclining is likely to be on the cards – and this suits us just fine.
One of the other true pleasures of this particular suite is the indulgent closet space. There are four large hanging wardrobes; the fact that my wife did not have to request additional hangers was certainly a first. The next wow for this pair? The bathroom – care of a super-sized shower and Madagascar flooring and wood panelling. A separate bath, uncharacteristically roomy for Spain, and dedicated speakers piping soothing music makes it like having our own spa. But enough about how the hotel looks – our next encounter proves that it’s more than just a pretty place.
Ever professional, patient and helpful, the front staff and their recommendations are outstanding. While I studied Spanish for a decade, my lack of practice in recent years, and the specificity of Catalan Spanish, has me a little challenged. However, the staff of the Pulitzer make me feel comfortable with my less-than-perfect speak and dialect, and I even get the occasional congratulation on decent conjugation and my attempts at the lazy ‘ch’ that those Castellans utter so sexily.
In summer, this hotel buzzes more than ever – and we’re not just talking about those giant insects that hum their way through the city in hot weather. We'e referring to the rooftop bar, with its oversized rustic wicker furniture, iron daybeds and hundreds of verdant potted plant. Pulitzer's terrace plays host to the city’s cocktail-quaffing beautiful people. But it’s not just a spot for night owls – for us, breakfast at the Pulitzer is a highlight. There's a feeling of dining with nature, while at the same time experiencing something fully contemporary. The restaurant, Visit, is located in a spacious room that opens onto a courtyard where the clear-panelled ceiling has retractable shades. As for the spread it includes that famous ibérico ham, eggs, yoghurts, cheeses, freshly squeezed pear, peach and orange juices. My top tip? The wholewheat mini baguette – one of seven different types of bread.
Now that I’ve done my job describing the look and the feel of the place, let me mention Pulitzer’s location also hits just the right spot. It’s ideally situated for a walk to Passeig de Gràcia, the Madison Avenue of Barcelona, as well as all the must-see sites – Gaudì’s magnificent Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Parque Güell and Casa Batlló. Between the hotel and Castle Montjuïc to the south, is also one of the most delicious and stimulating markets that we have visited. It is here at La Boqueria that we discover another best-kept secret: Pinocchio. At lunchtime this unassuming tapas bar at the head of La Boqueria is in fact given some love by the world-renowned chef of El Bulli. An extraordinary meal of gambas (prawns), mejillón (mussels), navajas (razor clams) and lobster are of course accompanied by small mountains of bread with Spanish olive oil. If you’re not salivating reading this then I haven’t done my job.
After gorging on the many tantalising sights and tastes of this exciting Spanish city, we finally brace ourselves to continue our journey north. As we begin prising ourselves from our terrace, a frond sways with the wind, and reflects the sun in a way that I’m sure is nature’s way of beckoning us to come back again soon. To be honest, if I hadn’t the lure of driving our Mini up the Costa Brava towards sun-drenched S'Agaró, I might not be able to leave this very special find in the midst of bustling Barcelona. That’s the pull of Pulitzer.