I am all about Barcelona right now! My last visit there was about 13 years ago and I recalled nothing beyond lots of Gaudí architecture, the Joan Miró Foundation, and a fabulous orange patent Chanel bag that I have never seen anywhere else in the world. After my recent visit, I am left questioning my own personal evolution as an adult. Has Barcelona really become that much more chic? Or has my palate for cultural experiences become more sophisticated? You must visit and let me know your thoughts! When you do, here is my official list!

ESSENTIAL SAY
Prior to arriving in Barcelona, we had a debate about whether we should speak Spanish or Catalan. Turns out, the majority of locals speak Spanish. Good luck with Catalan. It is a combination of Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Unless that sort of challenge gets you going, I would stick with your basic Spanish here.

Hello: Hola
Please: Por favor
Good-bye: Adiós
Thank you: Gracias
Excuse me: Discúlpeme
Do you speak English?: Habla inglés?

 

ESSENTIAL STAY

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

Mandarin Oriental 
I pride myself on being a decisive individual. In fact, I have zero tolerance for indecisiveness. That said, I changed my hotel reservation in Barcelona twice. READ HERE TO AVOID MISTAKES! For several years, the hotel in Barcelona was the Hotel Arts (now owned by the Ritz-Carlton). However, upon further investigation, it became clear that the location at the beach was inconvenient to everything else besides the beach. Also, the size and ambience are now akin to a “luxury” cruise ship. I am not a cruising gal. Hence, we settled upon the Mandarin Oriental. Though the basic rooms are rather small, this true five-star hotel is centrally located on the Passeig de Gràcia. The service was impeccable, the rooms are streamlined and contemporary, and the food is terrific. We walked everywhere our entire stay and even enjoyed yoga on the beautiful rooftop deck. Each morning, we indulged in a fabulous breakfast before a full day of cultural, culinary, and sporty excursions. We became friends with the young gentleman at the concierge desk and felt sad to say good-bye. They helped with basics like Segway reservations, but also found the perfectly sized box to ship our laundry home when we realized we had no room for “gifts” in our rolling bags.

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona
Passeig de Gràcia, 38-40
+34 931 51 88 88
mandarinoriental.com

ABaC Barcelona

ABaC Barcelona

ABaC
If you are more of a boutique-hotel collectista, I would absolutely encourage a stay at the ABaC hotel. ABaC is located in the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi neighborhood, an affluent residential area not too far from central Barcelona. It is definitely a short drive to many desirable activities, but I think it’s worth the ride. This quarter is a perfect juxtaposition of old and modern and is also home to many beautiful parks. The rooms are fresh and contemporary with Hermès amenities, Treca de Paris mattresses, Nespresso coffee machines, and Bang & Olufsen sound systems. Need I say more? Always…the amazing ABaC restaurant awaits you downstairs!

ABaC Barcelona
Avinguda del Tibidabo, 1
+34 933 19 66 00
abacbarcelona.com

ESSENTIAL PLAY

Joana Wilhem of BGB Barcelona

Joana Wilhem of BGB Barcelona

Guide: Joana Wilhem of BGB Barcelona
I LOVE Joana! Her high energy is my cup of tea and she is a true collectista herself. Joana is sophisticated and knowledgeable and has a formal degree in art history. However, she also knows how to tone it down for the children and culture philistines in the group.

Barcelona Guide Bureau
Via Laietana, 54, 3-4
+34 932 68 24 22
barcelonaguidebureau.com

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La Basílica Galería

La Basílica Galería
Seriously, I thought I literally struck gold at this off-the-beaten-path, highly curated space. This gallery encompasses case upon case of unique locally designed jewels, handbags, and more. Across the way, you should also check out Basílica Galería Perfume, which is a curated gallery of artisan perfumes.

La Basílica Galería
Carrer de Sant Sever, 7
+34 933 04 20 47
labasilicagaleria.com

Sabter HNOS

Sabater Hnos.

Sabater Hnos. Fabrica de Jabones
One of my all-time-favorite collectistas wants to bring this shop to the States and I hope she follows through on this brilliant idea. This boutique sells nothing but incredibly curated, handmade soaps. Sounds a bit niche, but I am niche. They have soap petals in every scent imaginable that you can mix and match in artistically designed, fashionable gift boxes. Additionally, the soaps come in all sorts of shapes like children’s toys, the alphabet, confetti, and golf balls. Young collectistas may actually mistake some of the designs for candy. You can observe the soaps being created on the premises and meet its founder, the young and beautiful Eliana. These soaps make amazing hostess gifts and party favors!

Sabater Hnos.
Plaça de San Felip Neri, 1
+34 933 01 98 32
shnos.com.ar

Espai Boisa

Espai Boisà

Espai Boisà
My new favorite “thing” when traveling with friends or family is private cooking classes. It is quite ironic considering I never cook at home. Anyway, a cooking class creates natural bonding over a shared experience followed by delicious food that is usually accompanied by fabulous wine. Espai Boisà is located in a modern little neighborhood that is a fantastic, tree-lined walk from the Paseig de Gràcia. The space is clean, warm, and inviting. We had the time of our lives making homemade gazpacho, paella, Spanish tortilla, and Crema Catalana. It all tasted especially fabulous with a midday bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Espai Boisà
Passatge Lluís Pellicer, 8
+34 931 92 60 21
espaiboisa.com

Barcelona Segway Fun

Barcelona Segway Fun

Barcelona Segway Fun  
There is arguably nothing exotic about this proposition and I now have the utmost respect for Paul Blart, Mall Cop. I just don’t want you to forget to book this adventure before you head to Barcelona. It was a really fun way to tour the beachfront neighborhoods (once we learned how to balance properly. I must admit, every time the guide stopped, I had to continue spinning around in teeny 360-degree circles so I wouldn’t fall over).

Barcelona Segway Fun
Carrer del Sots-Tinent Navarro, 26
+34 670 48 40 00
barcelonasegwayfun.com

Escribà Barcelona

Escribà Barcelona

Escribà Barcelona

It takes only a quick peek into the beautiful window to see the goodies you are in for at this wonderful pastry café. This is definitely the place to stop for a little caffeine refuel and a sweet treat (or a few).

Escribà Gran Via
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 546
+34 934 54 75 35
escriba.es

Escribà Rambla
Rambla de les Flors, 83
+34 933 01 60 27
escriba.es

The Camp Nou Museum

The Camp Nou Museum

Camp Nou
Camp Nou is the FC Barcelona stadium. Wait—don’t skip over this one if you aren’t a fútbol fan. In addition to offering tours of the stadium and locker room, it houses an amazing football and sports museum as well as a crazy Nike fútbol store. This stop is your perfect way to acquire chits with Mr. Dottie when you want to visit the Miró and Picasso museums and maybe even an extra Gaudí house.

Camp Nou
Carrer d’Aristides Maillol, 12
+34 902 18 99 00
fcbarcelona.com

Chocolate Messi

Chocolate Messi

Museu de la Xocolata
I know it sounds hokey, but if you love chocolate, you have to visit the chocolate museum. It is fun and lighthearted, and they have amazing hot chocolate in the café.

Museu de la Xocolata
Carrer del Comerç, 36
+34 932 68 78 78
museuxocolata.cat

 

ESSENTIAL EATS

Tickets Bar

Tickets Bar

Tickets
This is the gastronomic ticket in Barcelona. Founded by Ferran Adrià, formerly of El Bulli, and his brother, this restaurant lives up to the hype. The menu is adventurous and fun. The presentation is both an art and science. Overall, the entire Tickets experience is both a culinary and theatrical event from the moment the circus-like greeter meets you at the entrance.

Tickets Bar
Avinguda del Paral·lel, 164
+34 932 924 254
ticketsbar.es

Cal I'sidre

Ca l’Isidre

Ca l’Isidre
Ca l’Isidre is a family restaurant that combines traditional Mediterranean cuisine with traditional Catalan recipes. It pays particular attention to seasonal products, so the menu changes daily, depending on the products that Isidre Gironés find on the market. We must highlight the service and wine at this contemporary and art-filled restaurant.

Ca l’Isidre
Carrer de les Flors, 12
+34 934 41 11 39
calisidre.com

Paco Meralgo

Paco Meralgo

Paco Meralgo
We love this tapas bar for lunch or dinner. The ambience is casual but fashionable and contemporary. Though the menu has traditional tapas and montadito favorites, all food is prepared in interesting and unique ways. The Torrija de Santa Teresa was beyond beyond.

Alta Taberna Paco Meralgo
Carrer de Muntaner, 171
+34 934 30 90 27
restaurantpacomeralgo.com

Commerç 24

Comerç 24

Comerç 24
Comerç 24 was definitely the coolest restaurant we dined in. The crowd was beautiful and fabulous and the space was energetic. The food itself was inventive and presented in very imaginative ways.

Comerç 24
Carrer del Comerç, 24
+34 933 19 21 02
carlesabellan.es

ABaC

ABaC

ABaC
ABaC is located in a lovely residential neighborhood and resides in the fab ABaC boutique hotel that I would actually try on a future Barcelona jaunt. This culinary venue was my favorite in the region. The ambience was beautiful, the service professional and efficient, and the food no less than divine. I am usually not a sucker for a gimmick, but the sorbet lipstick intermezzo says all you need to know about this sensational avant-garde menu. When you visit, do utilize the restroom that has color-changing water running from the sink faucets.

ABaC Restaurant
Avinguda del Tibidabo, 1
+34 933 19 66 00
abacbarcelona.com

Xx Lottie Dottie