Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

LobbyWhat I love about Mandarin Oriental properties is their consistency - you know you will get a sophisticated stay with a side of zen. The first Mandarin opened in Hong Kong, in a part of the world known for the best hotel service on earth. With each successive opening, Mandarin has taken that level of service and applied it to each of their properties.

EntranceWeather in Barcelona was all over the place when I was there - hot rain and humidity, then sunshine. After long days of walking the city, down to the port and back up, the cool lobby of the Mandarin was a very welcome sight. In my little notebook I carry everywhere, I wrote down "Best breakfast buffet" - the spread is serious fuel for a day of business or leisure in the city, with eggs, bowls of fresh fruit, "bikini" (ham & cheese) sandwiches, yogurt, and Asian specialties.

On a beautiful day, there is no better place in Barcelona for a chic crowd and panoramic view over the city and Passeig de Gracia than the hotel's rooftop pool. I had a room with a handicapped bathroom, which wasn't great, but other than that, the room was a sleek city hideaway. The best rooms have views of the Passeig de Gracia, so know that when you're booking. Moments, their one Michelin-starred restaurant, is one of the top tables in Barcelona.

The Park Hotel, Barcelona - A GREAT Value!

One of my favorite things about speaking in Barcelona was I got to meet one of my Twitter friends, @graupix, or Sonia Graupera. Turning twitter relationships into real-life relationships means a lot to me. I have admired Sonia for a long time because she is kind and funny and a total hotel nut like me. Like me, she won’t recommend a place unless she has been there herself.

I can’t even tell you how amazing Sonia was in taking me around to different hotels, introducing me to all her friends, and making sure I left Barcelona having seen the best of the best.

We first went to the Park Hotel for a late-night bite at their innovative tapas restaurant, Ten’s. We couldn’t stop looking at each other after each bite, like “Was it as good for you as it was for me?” We loved the octopus cooked in Spanish paprika, a slow-cooked egg and a coconut dessert with lemon and green apple.

Ten's restaurantCoconut Dessert at Ten'sKnow this above all else: The Park Hotel is an incredible value, and with free WiFi too! Standard rooms can be found for around 80 euros, and they're comfortable yet basic. They're bigger than many New York hotel rooms I've been in. The location is great - we ended up walking through the Gothic quarter after.

And you MUST eat at Ten's!

Bar

LobbyLove this staircase!

Hotel Majestic, Barcelona

I absolutely loved staying at the Hotel Majestic in Barcelona. It had been recently renovated and so I was able to experience the new amenities, beds, and design. The hotel has occupied a grand position on the Passeig de Gracia, which I think is the best area to stay in Barcelona, since 1918. Aside from the slightly chaotic breakfast area in what felt like a conference room, I couldn't find anything else wrong with this hotel.

Here's what I wrote in my National Geographic article on the 10 Best Hotels in Barcelona:

Hotel MajesticIf I had to choose where I’d stay again, I’d go with this hotel. Located on the swanky Passeig de Gràcia near two of Gaudi’s most famous buildings, La Pedrera and Casa Batlló, this hotel has a rich 90+ year history to discover. Grand columns and a chandelier lead to the lobby lounge, bar, and piano, while rooms have all been recently renovated. My balcony allowed me to watch Barcelona promenade by. The feature that made me go from like to love? The rooftop pool and lounge, with phenomenal views of La Sagrada Familia and Passeig de Gràcia.

LobbyEntrance door in lobbyMy roomRoom living area

Beautiful balcony view

View of Passeig de GraciaThe rooftop pool!

Joy Enabler: Barcelona

Gaudi's Casa Battlo on Passeig de GraciaWhat a fantastic city. After five days in Barcelona, I am leaving with new friends, great memories of the Hospitality Industry World Congress (and speaking with USA Today's Barb Delollis and travel writer Sonia Graupera), and a new love for the food, people, history, and culture of this city. I packed as much in as I could and really came away with a great understanding of Barcelona. It enables joy of life like not many cities do. I also saw/stayed in around 12 hotels, so I KNOW where to go, from 80 euros a night on up!

Much more to come!