Live Like a Local: Barcelona

The Suite Principal Paseo de Gracia opens onto a sprawling terrace with sweeping views of the bustling Passeig de Gracia.

Among its other strong touristic attributes, Barcelona is rich in architectural and culinary treasures. Not only do Millennials rank these aspects among their top 10 desirable vacation features, according to MMGY Global’s 2016 Portrait of American Travelers, they also value them significantly more than their older counterparts. Better than one in four Millennials who are interested in visiting European cities during the next two years have this metropolitan gem on their radar.

Gen Y clients heading for Barcelona with a goal to immerse them in the local ambiance may wish to consider El Palauet Living, a boutique hotel on the city’s designer strip, Passeig De Gracia. We recently stayed at this former manor house, which is in the same neighborhood as some of Antoni Gaudi’s most impressive architectural works. Nestled in between the trendy Gracia and the busy Plaça de Catalunya, the property is a central base for exploring the Catalan capital. Dating back over 100 years, the building used to house the Bonaventura family. Converted into a hotel in 2010, the building retains its original façade and reception area, both listed as “Barcelona Historical Treasures.”

The property consists of just six suites, each measuring 1,600 square feet and having two open-plan bedrooms. While all of the rooms have similar features, the layout of each differs. Keep an eye out for the opulent plaster ceilings. With more than 45 across the building, these pieces dating back to 1906 are some of the many protected “Historical Treasures” dotting the vicinity. Inside the rooms, expect Modernist furnishings and minimalistic whites and creams. Guests can control the ambiance through an in-room, iPad-linked system, which lets you choose the lights, temperature and music throughout. The expansive bathrooms include Japanese toilets and rainforest showers, and are fully stocked with Aveda products, alongside Osme organic toiletries, to keep guests fresh. Guests can also take a relaxing, pre-siesta dip in the Jacuzzi bathtub, with soothing chromatherapy lights.

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The seven in 10 Millennials who rank “kitchenette” as a desirable hotel room feature may be pleased to know that every accommodation also comes with a full kitchen and dining area. Watch out for the miniature wine fridge, which is fully supplied with Catalan wines, cava (the locals’ favorite sparkling tipple) and a seasonal wine of the month.

For a room with a view, we recommend the Suite Principal Paseo de Gracia. Only this suite opens onto a sprawling terrace with sweeping views of bustling Passeig de Gracia to enjoy with your morning café con leche.

For guests traveling with families, we suggest the Tibidabo Suite. Set away from the busy main road, the layout of this particular room allows for lots of space for active children, as well as a more open kitchen space, all with views of the scenic Mt. Tibidabo, of course. Tip: Kids can enjoy their own Kiddies breakfast, complete with Nutella sandwiches and fresh juice.

For those wanting the full VIP treatment, each room is assigned its own personal assistant.

While the hotel does not have an onsite restaurant, there is a range of gourmet options available. Popular local restaurants provide an extensive room service menu ranging from a typical Mediterranean offering from L’Eggs to a Japanese selection from Nomo. Our favorites include the Spanish gyozas filled with Iberian ham and tomato sauce or the Galician beef short loin served with bouquets for those looking for something a bit heartier.

Insider Tip: Guests looking to get a bit more hands-on in this gastronomic city can take advantage of the hotel’s personal chef service. A local Catalan chef will take you to local markets, including Las Ramblas' famous Boqueria, sourcing local produce to create typical Spanish dishes. You can sit back and let him get to work or take advantage of a private Spanish cooking lesson.

Light pours into the luxury Atico Tibidabo Suite through a semi-circular stained glass window. 

Get the most out of Barcelona’s sunny climate with a jaunt up to the rooftop terrace. Open to the public only one night a week during the summer, the exclusive terrace is perfect for a sunset tipple from the onsite bar.

Guests should try out the terrace’s spa, complete with Jacuzzi, Finnish sauna and a solarium. Don’t miss out on the selection of massages. Our Favorite: The hour-long anti-jet-lag restorative massage, perfect for travelers who need some restoration. Top Tip: A rooftop morning yoga session is the ideal wake-up call.

Guests who are looking to take in a bit more of Barcelona’s culture can partake in a range of El Palauet’s “experiences.” Apart from private tours of Gaudi’s architecture or the winding barrios, our pick was the Art Cava. Guests are taken to a local family-run vineyard where they get to visit the onsite bodega for some cava tasting. Insider Tip: Get a little more hands-on by completing the last step of the cava-making process, “disgorging” and come away with your own bottle. Take advantage of the hotel’s onsite child minding for those needing a little time away. 

The property also has two large event spaces, with a combined capacity of 450 guests. We liked the basement space. Once housing the Bonaventura’s kitchen and corridors, the rustic space is now converted, but maintains the original exposed brick walls and archways.

Centrally located, the hotel is within walking distance of most of Barcelona’s iconic offerings. Looking for some authentic Spanish eateries? We suggest a walk to Can Paixano, better known as La Xampanyeria. This tucked-away institution serves some of the best jamón bocadillos (small Spanish sandwiches) in town. Try the chorizo and manchego and wash it down with their famous cava. Those needing a tapas fix, should try the wine shop-turned-bodega de tapas, Quimet y Quimet. We like the Greek yogurt and truffled honey montadito or try the smoked oysters, all alongside a glass of chilled vermut.

Noteworthy is the Michelin-starred Tickets, where the carnivalesque façade opens up onto five small-plate bars and open kitchens. Foodwise, think gastronomic tapas, such as their liquid olive or the world of oysters.

Those seeking to escape the tourists need to visit the charming Gracia district. This Instagrammable neighborhood is chock-full of plazas, cozy boutiques and some of the best bars in the city, such as The Old Fashioned, a bespoke cocktail place with an extensive menu. Insider Tip: Chat with the friendly bar staff and they’ll whip you up your own personalized creation. A little closer to El Palauet is Boca Chica, a plush bar with plenty of ambiance. Right off Passeig de Gracia, enjoy a glass of wine on the garden terrace. Those in need of a pick-me-up, should pay a visit to Brunch & Cake to sip on an espresso.

Agents can direct any queries about El Palauet Advisors to General Manager Jana Santamaria ([email protected]).

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