I’ve not been to Barcelona before last weekend, but I’ve seen plenty of Gaudi’s architectural wonders’ pictures and juicy paella flatlays. When I finally have the chance to visit the city for just a little more than a day, I decided to do things a little differently.in the picture above: Hotel Casa Bonay
1. I decided to stay in 2 different hotels for the 2 nights I were there. Because when I came across searching for places to stay in Barcelona, I found so many inspirational, design-led, interesting hotels/apartments. Being a homeware/interior enthusiast, I couldn’t resist the temptation to explore as much as I were physically able to. So I booked two completely different styled hotels, one SPG listed, classic, mid-high end hotel right in the centre of the city; and another more alternative, budget, quirky hostel style located just a bit on the edge of the most central circle of the city.
If you ask me, I loved both. And despite that little extra logistic, I did not regret booking two hotels for this particular trip. I was able to enjoy more of what the city had to offer. And to see another dimension of the place in such a short trip like this.
In case you haven’t figured, Casa Bonay is the hipster one of the two. If you’re on a budget, but still want a perfectly instagramable experience, Casa Bonay is the one you need to check out. Factory conversion, original tiles, bookshop+cafe+juice bar+Southeast Asia eatery+guestrooms under one roof, it is an instagram goldmine. The only thing you need to be aware of, is to manage your excitement and give your busy thumb a rest once in a while.
And amongst all the tapas and paella feasts, we sneaked in a refreshing Asian meal at the Elephant Crocodile Monkey. The menu is short, but creative yet still authentic somehow. If you are a fan of pho, this place has the best I’ve tried outside Vietnam. The soup is free from any additives, which is rare if you’re familiar with the pho that’s usually served in London. Everything tastes fresh, and are homemade where possible. The grilled fish is another highlight on the menu for sure. But just make sure you have the skill to debone it on your plate, otherwise it’s going to be rather tricky.
2. I didn’t visit any of Gaudi’s work. And I can’t say if this is a good or bad decision. Obviously if you’re a Gaudi fan and the purpose of visiting Barcelona is pretty much to see his works, then, go. For me, because I only had a day and a half, I didn’t think it’d be efficient use of time if I spent 1 hour in the queue up to see Casa Batllo. From London to Barcelona it’s only a few hours trip door to door. I knew I’d go back soon to have a more relaxed, thorough tour. So as my first time in the city, I much preferred to get a more holistic grasp of what living there was all about. I’d like to put in a couple of nice little attractions if they fit in between the restaurant reservations nicely, and leave some things out to look forward to the next time around.
This time, I visited the Picasso museum and the Palau de la Música Catalana, both of which were close by where we stayed, so a little stroll through the neighborhood took us there easily. The Picasso museum is fabulous if you’re artistic, or even just wondering why the paintings that resemble your 3-year-old child’s scribbles should be considered priceless. I went in for both reasons actually, and came out feeling much more enlightened and, just happy. Try, and you’ll see what I mean.
Palau de la Música Catalana on the other hand, is just visibly stunning, and the architecture takes your breathe away. The architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner is the teacher of Gaudi, and many details and techniques used here are adopted in Gaudi’s work too. Oh and in case you were wondering about the other hotel I stayed in. I have to say I was mainly drawn to it by this view:Plus the pool. I’m defenseless when faced with an infinity pool. Having lived in England for the past 11 years, pretty much nothing can stop me jumping in the water when I’ve got a view like this. After all, Barcelona winter feels just like a slightly colder summer day in London.
picture below: rooftop pool at Grand Hotel Central
Bikini set (on sale)
What’s your experience in Barcelona? I’m happy to hear your story!