Review: Mandarin Oriental Barcelona
I fell in love with this hotel the moment I got out of the car and was warmly welcomed by the immaculately dressed doormen.
Location: On the grand Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona’s equivalent of Bond Street, where the neighbours are named Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu and MaxMara. The closest Gaudí-designed building is a few hundred metres away and Las Ramblas can be reached in less than 15 minutes on foot. The airport is just 20 minutes by car.
First impressions: I fell in love with this hotel the moment I got out of the car and was warmly welcomed by the immaculately dressed doormen. They whisked me to reception and within minutes I was settled in a stunning one-bedroom Terrace Suite, one of the most impressive suites I’ve had the pleasure of staying in (and not even the hotel’s top offering). The Mandarin is widely seen as Barcelona’s top hotel, and it didn’t take me long to find out why, with exceptional yet subtle and unobtrusive service, an unrivalled culinary offering and exceptional facilities and design.
The facts: The Mandarin Oriental, housed in a former bank, is a relatively small property with just 120 rooms and suites. But for a hotel of this size, it more than delivers on the facilities front. In fact, it’s the culinary and spa offering that make this a trendy hangout for locals and tourists – the Mandarin is a destination in its own right. My favourite spot was the rooftop pool, a small space with a limited number of loungers and stunning views across the surrounding neighbourhood. There’s also an indoor lap pool located in the spa, home to an impressive gym as well. On the F&B front, you’ll be hard pressed to find flaws in the hotel’s offering. Bankers’ Bar serves up divine cocktails and often has fun pop-up offerings in partnership with mixologists from around the globe, while the Mimosa Garden (only open in summer months) is the perfect spot to relax with a glass of rosé in the Catalan sunshine. Two-Michelin-starred Moments is the star of the show, serving up local cuisine; while in all-day dining venue Blanc you’ll find sharing tapas plates and large dish options. Make sure you have the Iberian ham croquettes – I still dream about them a year on from my stay!
Explore: Head out on foot and explore Barcelona in all its glory. Touring Gaudí’s creations is also a must – from mosaic-covered Park Güell to the impressive, yet unfinished Sagrada Familia. You could spend hours exploring the small streets and lanes of The Gothic Quarter, but once you get peckish head to the Mercado de la Boqueria, a good market venue where you’ll enjoy snacking on delicious tapas and supping on equally delicious Cava.
Wow: I loved my hours spent relaxing by the rooftop pool, which after dark transforms into trendy bar and Peruvian restaurant, Terrat. You’ll need to get up early to bag a sunlounger here though, as it’s extremely popular. The spa was another highlight – particularly the unique HairSpa by Mariam Quevedo treatment where therapists give you a complete hair and scalp analysis using tiny cameras to assess every client’s bespoke hair needs! Treatments and the products used are then tailored to your exact requirements. My hair had never looked better, and thanks to the additional scalp, neck and shoulder massage, I was more relaxed than ever!
Book it: Rates start from €505 on a bed and breakfast basis.
Hollie is editor of Aspire’s print and online products. She is responsible for the running of the club and ensuring the content produced and the events organised are relevant to the Aspire audience. She was previously deputy news editor and cruise writer for sister title Travel Weekly. She loves exploring new destinations and is gradually ticking new countries off her list. She most enjoys writing about cruise, South America and Japan. Before working in the travel industry she held news reporting roles at the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star.