Grand Hotel Central, Via Laietana, 30, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
There are three main ingredients that make a short city break memorable, 1) The hotel, 2) the food and 3) the weather… And luckily for us we struck pure gold on all three counts. Talking of luck, I’d won a couple of easyJet flights with a Metro newspaper competition at the end of last year and decided to book a weekend away for our birthdays.
Once the destination had been chosen, it was time to find a base-camp for operation ‘Tapas overload’ (more on this in a later post). My brother recommended the Grand Hotel Central, a member of Design Hotels, and after checking it out online (even the sometimes very harsh Trip Advisor gave it glowing reviews) we decided to book a room. The fact that it has a very, very, cool Sky bar and infinity pool overlooking the old city cathedral had no bearing whatsoever!
Our easyJet flight landed early (they’re so much better than Ryanair – but you don’t need us to tell you that obvious little fact) and we made the simple and inexpensive train journey to Estacio de Franca (via Passieg de Gracia). From there an easy 10 minute stroll led us the cool welcoming reception of the Grand Hotel Central.
The hotel couldn’t be situated in a better location! Right in the middle of the city, less than 10 minutes from La Ramblas (the Oxford Street of Barcelona), about 15/20 minutes from the marina and beach and a couple of minutes from the Jaume I Metro station (a public transport system that’s so easy to master.) And as a bonus, the Central is in the district of El Born, that just so happens to be one of the trendiest parts of the city. Just minutes away from some of the city’s best bars, shops, museums and restaurants.
The decor is dark and subtle achieving a haven of cool and calm from the bustling city that’s just a few meters away through the revolving doors. The reception staff were quick, friendly and professional as were the waiting and bar staff.
The building’s exterior wouldn’t look out of place in a Chicago mafia movie – think ‘The Untouchables’ and you’ll know what we mean. The designers, Sandra Tarruella and Isabel López-Quesada (two of the most respected Spanish interior designers) have tried their damn hardest to keep as many original features as possible and seamlessly merge in some modern touches.
We boarded the updated 20s style lift to our room on the seventh floor, our ‘City suite’ was on the corner of the hotel giving us natural light from two sides (We also think that picture used in their brochure was our room!). The hotel isn’t massive, a very reasonable 147 rooms (65 doubles, 60 superior and 22 suites and all of these rooms come with a king size bed, TV, iPod dock, power shower, etc, etc, etc. Our favourite little touch was the automatic blackout blinds that were operated from the comfort of our bed.
And talking of beds, it was so comfortable (not far off to the amazing super king sized one at The Wynn in Vegas). We were asleep as soon as our heads hit the plump pillows and really struggled to get up in the morning, the black-out blinds did the job. I knew we should have ordered breakfast in bed. When we did manage to crawl out of our pit, the hydro-massage shower and fab Rituals products (not Molton Brown as our guide-book said) soon had us refreshed and ready to go.
Breakfast is served in the hotel’s restaurant, Àvalon by Ramón Freixa (click here for our review) and included a huge range of meats, cheeses, pastries, cereals, juices and even a bottle of Cava to kick-start your day. For those nursing a hangover, the good news is that breakfast is served till noon at the weekends, I wish more hotels would follow suit…
As mentioned before the absolute best feature of the Central is the roof-top private infinity pool, it’s not the biggest of pools, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up in cool, and offers some amazing panoramic views over the city and beyond. If you don’t fancy a dip then the Skybar is the perfect place to have a Mojito, €12, especially while the sun goes down. We popped up for a nightcap on both evenings of our stay and there’s something really special about lounging by the pool in the relaxing semi darkness sipping an Aperol Spritz whilst watching the lighting in the pool slowly change colour. There is also a fitness centre and a spa, neither of which we visited – far too much eating to be done to have time for any of that!
The little pocket-sized map and guide handed out when we checked in was so helpful, it had a Metro map and a street map clearly marked with colour-coded pointers of places to see, eat, drink and shop of which there is an abundance. The famous Boqueria food market is just a fifteen minute stroll away, a must for food lovers, the most incredible market we’d ever seen, and most friendly. The ever helpful staff made this one of the most enjoyable and stress free city breaks that we’d had in a long time, when Saff requested a fan to drown out my snoring and it was delivered minutes later. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Grand Hotel Central to anyone who appreciates a cool and laid back atmosphere with 5 star service. Best we start saving our pennies so we can come back!
Grand Hotel Central,
Via Laietana, 30,
08003 Barcelona, Spain
Telephone: 932 95 79 00