Occupying a 19th-century Las Ramblas townhouse, Yurbban Ramblas is a hip urban hideaway that’s right at the heart of the Barcelona action, mere steps from bustling Plaça de Catalunya and the mediaeval Gothic Quarter.
Barcelona-El Prat Airport is around 30-40 minutes’ drive from the hotel depending on traffic. Cabs are readily available and frequent shuttle buses serve nearby Plaça de Catalunya.
A major hub for national rail services and local metro lines, Plaça de Catalunya station is located beneath the giant central square right by the hotel.
Those who wish to brave Barcelona’s chaotic driving conditions and expensive parking can hire a car at the airport. But the city’s excellent metro, bus and tram network mean you really won’t need one.
Worth getting out of bed for
Stepping straight out of Yurbban Ramblas’ cool, calm interior into the frenzied hubbub of Las Ramblas can be overwhelming to the uninitiated. Our advice: make straight for the Font de Canaletes opposite to fill your water bottle and get your bearings. This peculiar hybrid of ornate lamppost and drinking fountain goes unnoticed by many, except after FC Barcelona victories when carousing fans congregate around it in their hundreds.
Suitably refreshed, head north to Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona’s vast central square, and jumping off point for the likes of the Eixample barrio, with its colourful art nouveau architecture and smart boutiques. Zip straight to big hitters including the Sagrada Familia and Gaudí’s masterful Parc Güell via metro from the plaza (being sure to book tickets in advance – much more satisfying to sashay in like the King of Spain rather than melt like ice cream in the midday queues).
Leaving Las Ramblas and stepping into Carrer de Petritxol is like entering a portal to another world. And what a world it is. This impossibly narrow street is – if you’ll pardon the expression – chock-full of chocolate emporia, where cocoa-based goodies in just about every format imaginable make Willy Wonka look like a slouch by comparison. Head to the reassuringly old-school Granja Dulcinea, largely unchanged for nearly a century. Once a favourite haunt of Salvador Dalí it’s purported to boast the best churros and hot chocolate in town.
East of Las Ramblas, the labyrinthine lanes of the mediaeval Gothic Quarter are fab for getting lost in. Discover tranquil hidden courtyards along narrow, cobbled alleys and pause to marvel at the grand gothic melodrama of Barcelona Cathedral. With its elaborate central spire, secluded cloisters, fabulous gargoyles and 13 resident white geese, it more than holds its own against Barcelona’s other bucket-list basilica.
Wander Carrer d'Avinyó where an adolescent Picasso began his career in earnest at the (now long-gone) School of Fine Arts, then make for the museum dedicated to his work in neighbouring La Ribera. Comprised of five adjoining mediaeval palaces – a suitably ostentatious setting for such a collection – the Picasso Museum contains a mind-boggling 4,000+ pieces, including a very substantial hoard of sketches and paintings from Picasso’s formative years, plus masterpieces from his Cubist and Blue periods.
Age-old disagreements about which ingredients are permitted in a traditional Spanish paella have cemented its position as one of the country’s most divisive dishes. It’s also one of the most hit and miss, so it’s worth pushing the boat out a little at 7 Portes. Here, in a smart dining room with exposed beams and checkerboard floors, you can continue the debate with your choice of several different but equally authentic takes on the dish.
Enigma by name, enigma by nature: the only way to discover what Albert Adrià’s concept restaurant is all about is to book a table and go. Details are deliberately thin on the ground, but you can expect an extensive tasting menu of weird and wonderful dishes including the likes of goat belly with pomegranate and pea teardrops with frozen caviar. Food is served in a series of highly stylised rooms, and not always necessarily on an actual plate…
Practically next door to the Picasso Museum, Pastelería Hofmann’s cakes and pastries are works of art in their own right. Grab a frothy hot chocolate and life-changing mascarpone-filled croissant and enjoy your sweet treats by the boating lake in nearby Parc de la Ciutadella before heading straight back for second helpings.
Its name a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Gothic Quarter’s many sacred churches and synagogues, Satan’s Coffee Corner serves up devilishly good specialty coffee alongside a range of pastries and light breakfasts.
Perched atop the luxury Hotel Casa Fuster, a landmark Catalan art nouveau confection designed by Gaudí contemporary Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the Mirador Terrace is a prime spot for sundowners. Chug craft cocktails or make like the locals and sip vermouth rosso, accompanied by sweeping views down the tree-lined Passeig de Gràcia, as well as the ubiquitous Sagrada Familia and Tibidabo mountain.
A reassuring short two-minute stumble from Yurbban Ramblas, La Whiskeria serves up a bewildering array of primarily Scotch whiskies, with a few more from Ireland, North America and Japan thrown in for good measure. Order traditional whisky cocktails or have your mind blown by imaginative newbies including the Tropical Highlands, with lemon, mint and curacao, and the Penicillin, a medicinal mix of ginger, honey and fresh lemon.