Sir Victor's design and decor in a nutshell: the straight lines and plain materials are in themselves the art. And the pinnacle of urban living must be an elegant rooftop terrace with a swimming pool looking out across the jumbled horizon of Barcelona and the gorgeous Mediterranean sky.
Double rooms from £152.85 (€170), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.48 per person per night on check-out.
The hotel is named after Catalan novelist, playwright and poet Caterina Albert i Paradís, who wrote under the pseudonym Victor Català.
At the hotel
Spaciomm spa with hammam and Jacuzzi, rooftop swimming pool and a solarium overlooking La Pedrera, limousine and valet service.
Our favourite rooms
Those looking out onto Paseo de Grácia have the best views; those facing the interior garden have bigger balconies.
The Spaciomm Spa has eight treatment rooms offering shiatsu massage, facials, aromatherapy and underwater massage. There’s also a hammam, gym and hairdressing salon. The more adventurous can try the gravitational space, where gently rocking beds accompanied by chromotherapy make for a very different sort of relaxation room.
Swimwear – Barcelona has its own beach. If you’re vegetarian, research meat-free places to eat.
Sir Victor can supply a personal shopper to spruce up your style.
The restaurant is not suitable for small children; a menu at the bar caters for them. An extra bed (free for under-12s, otherwise €70 a night), or a baby cot (free) can be added to the Suite, Junior Suite and Suite Paseo de Gracia categories.
Secure a corner spot and people-watch the night away.
Lobby Restaurant & Bar is a gathering place for Barcelona's in-crowd, staying open until the early hours. Drinks are accompanied by a variety of but enticing tapas dishes, which are served until 1am. Omm Club, the hotel's scene-stealing daytime club features live music and DJs most Fridays.
2am for the bar during the week, and 3am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
24 hours; there's a dedicated room service menu which includes sandwiches and salads.
The nearest airport is Barcelona Airport, known locally as El Prat, which is served by EasyJet and Spanair. It’ll take roughly 20 minutes to reach Sir Victor by car. You can take a taxi for around €35. There’s a train station a short walk from the airport, connecting Terminal A and the city centre every 30 minutes for around €5 for a single ticket. The Aerobus service is even more regular, leaving the airport for central Barcelona four times an hour.
The city is served by an excellent metro and bus network, but if you plan to venture beyond Barcelona, there are links to Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza or Bilbao from Barcelona’s main railway station, Estació de Sants.
Sir Victor is very central, so stick to metro and bus routes for travel around the city. If you do decide to drive, the hotel offers valet parking. If you’re driving to Barcelona from France, take the AP-7 from the French border down to Barcelona. Driving from Madrid will take a little longer: six hours on the A2, via Zaragoza.
Worth getting out of bed for
Take a cable car to the top of Montjuic for breath-taking views of the old town. Antoni Gaudí left an incredible legacy in Barcelona, from his undulating apartment block La Pedrera to his swan song, the Sagrada Família which is still under construction. The city pays tribute to other great artists with the Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró, and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona which focuses on 20th-century Catalan artists. The Gran Teatro de Liceu is up there with Europe’s great opera houses, and Palau de la Música Catalana, another of Gaudí's masterpieces, has regular performances of Catalan music. At weekends, drummers play in local hangout Parc di Ciutadella. One of the best food markets is Bocadilla, just off the lively LaRambla. For designer labels, head for Passeig de Grácia. You’ll find boutiques and more unusual shops in the El Born area.
7 Porteson Passeig d’Isabel II is Barcelona’s oldest restaurant, and serves an authentic Catalan menu in a formal environment with a pianist from 22h30. Fish-lovers should head to traditional La Barra de Botafumeiroon Gran de Grácia. Passadis del Pepon Pla de Palau does good seafood – they call the shots on what you eat, which can be fun. Acontraluz is a bit out of the way, uptown on Milanesat, but it’s a cool, contemporary restaurant with a lively atmosphere and great Mediterranean food; ask for a seat in the conservatory. Agua on the beachfront is fab for seafood, and is especially pleasant in summer if you get a table on the terrace looking out to sea; booking well in advance is advisable.
Our favourite tapas bars are: Cal Pep on Plaça de les Olles, a traditional tapas bar with all the favourites – cured hams, daily specials and a bustly atmosphere in the evenings; Cervecería Catalana on Mallorca (+34 932 16 03 68); Ciudad Condal on Rambla de Catalunya (+34 933 181 997); Flash Flash on La Granada del Penedès for its tortillas.
Stop at La Vinya del Senyor on Plaza Santa Maria for a glass of wine before hitting the shops in the Gothic Quarter. For after-dinner drinks, head for El Born district. Or head uptown to Carrer Maria Cubi, where there are several lively bars; our favourites are Universal and Mas y Mas.
I have to start with a confession. This Mr and Mrs Smith live in Barcelona, so a visit to a boutique hotel on our home turf was going to have to be pretty special to make it a weekend we’d never forget. When I discovered we were to be staying at Sir Victor, the sister to my favourite restaurant, Acontraluz, I decided it wasn’t going to be a problem…
We hopped in the car, waved goodbye to thirtysomething domesticity, and made our journey across town. Finding Sir Victor, just off Paseo de Grácia, the main avenue in the middle of Barcelona’s art nouveau grid, isn’t hard. In keeping with its neighbours, it’s a seven-storey building with a flat front. However, this being a city touched by the hand of Gaudí, and with his apartment block La Pedrera around the corner, clearly Sir Victor felt obliged to do something quirky. The façade of small, white rectangular slabs is tautly pulled back like a sheet of white metal and repeatedly slashed, creating slits for thin windows and small balconies protected from the full glare of the Mediterranean sun.
We’d packed light, but though the revolving door is big enough for most visitors’ accessories, it was a little too small for ours. Then again, not all lovers take a pram with them on a romantic break – let alone its contents. Fortunately one of the adjacent sheets of glass slid back, to reveal a sleek minimalist reception area. No fake oil paintings or the prints of landscapes from yesteryear so popular in lobbies of swanky hotels across the world. In fact, there aren’t any pictures at all. This is Omm’s design and decor in a nutshell: the straight lines and plain materials are in themselves the art.
Even with a 16-month-old ankle-biter in tow, we found ourselves treated kindly from the start, and a sweet receptionist took us straight up to our room. Some couples request oysters and champagne on ice waiting for them in their room… We’d ordered a cot. It wasn’t there yet but soon arrived, and managed to fit into the room’s perfectly integrated minimalist wood-and-metal decor. (Something a grabbing-hands-everywhere Master Smith was having a little trouble doing.)
Everything looked crisp, yet felt comfy, and the walls, bathroom fixtures, sheets and towels were all a pristine white – a particular treat for parents of a toddler. We had an interior room, so our balcony overlooked the internal courtyard; the contrast of the scruffy rears of the buildings opposite and the elegant, modern perfection of the hotel framing them is a sight to behold. And for those who want to revel only in design-conscious bliss, there’s a gauze blind, transparent enough for light to penetrate but sufficiently opaque to keep out the imperfections of the outside world.
Resisting the temptation to collapse on the bed for a siesta, we headed up to the pool bar. Wow. The pinnacle of urban living must be an elegant rooftop terrace with a swimming pool, and this was an immaculate, wood-lined haven. Looking out across the jumbled horizon of Barcelona and the gorgeous Mediterranean sky, we ordered two Spanish-strength gin and tonics to sip as we soaked up the view. As well as nuns scurrying around the convent across the road, we could see the eccentric swirls of La Pedrera’s fantastical roof, one block away. To our left, the spires of Barcelona’s most emblematic building, Gaudí’s unfinished church La Sagrada Família, were visible in the distance. Armchair sightseers can delight in two checks in their tourist tick boxes without having to leave the comfort of their sunlounger. Perfect.
We could have happily stayed put there all day, but we mustered the energy to stumble out for a late lunch. Our lucky choice was just the ticket: a popular tapas bar called Commerç 24 on Carrer Commerç, where we snapped up an outside table. It’s a colourful, retail-rich area. With our blood-sugar levels back up, Mrs Smith managed to coax me into a little shopping. But humidity and tourist levels were also up, so Omm soon lured us back, an oasis of freshness, calm and hush. We had a table (and a babysitter) booked for 21h30.
The hotel restaurant is called, curiously, Moo. (Perhaps because it’s so delicious, the temptation is to milk the menu for all you’re worth.) It is the creation of the Roca brothers, world-famous for their creative combinations of ingredients and flavours. Their disdain for convention is, perhaps, most apparent in the spindly chocolate mixed with salt that arrived with the coffee. With each dish a half portion, we could try twice as many things. Each serving comes with a carefully selected wine: another incentive (as if you needed one) to have as many plates as possible. You find yourself ordering not just to sample the mouthwatering French-influenced food, but also for the wine that comes with it: foie gras and figs with a Pedro Ximénez, entrecôte with an Haut Medoc… We may not have left town, but our tastebuds went all over Europe.
Though we only had five floors to ascend to get to our room, the corridors were an experience in themselves. With no natural light,the charcoal-grey carpet and walls are illuminated only by a purplish glow and two phosphorescent white lines that run either side of the floor, the length of the corridor. The runway effect proved fortunate after six different wines over dinner.
Master Smith awoke a little earlier than usual, and our room was quickly transformed from a temple of calculated style to the chaos of a child’s playpen. We all went for a morning swim on the roof and then down for breakfast in the open-plan bar. Could there be a more wonderful start to the day than the juice of fresh blood oranges from Sicily, delicious local breads, cheeses and salamis, exotic jams (such as raspberry and red-pepper jelly), and sandwiches of cheese and Mediterranean tomatoes that melt in the mouth? Sadly, just as we had eaten our fill, we realised that it was time to leave. We’d had a wonderful break without even leaving our everyday stamping ground. So fabulous was the aesthetic and gastronomic experience that Mrs Smith insists that we do it more often. I give in on the strength of the breakfast alone.