The Serras, a five-star modern boutique hotel, sits on the edge of Barcelona’s Gothic quarter, facing the seafront. The building, which dates from 1846, once housed Pablo Picasso’s first studio, and is only a short stroll from several museums, the lively El Born district, the yacht-packed marina and the beach.
The chic rooms and suites, with floor-to-ceiling windows, have stunning city or sea views, and the rooftop terrace, with a pool and bar, overlooks the glitzy Port Vell marina.
Contemporary Catalan cuisine is served in the hotel restaurant headed up by Marc Gascons, who has a Michelin star to his name.
The spacious junior suite, where the first thing that greeted my guest and me was a bottle of chilled cava alongside a board of tasty treats from the kitchen, couldn’t have been more inviting—no detail had been left to chance. Take the minimalist decor, which to the unsuspecting eye would simply register as tastefully modern: throughout the hotel, the beds’ headboards feature the same geometric patterns as those found on the city’s street tiles (a different one in every district).
Other features worth noting are the complimentary use of an iPhone that lets you make free international calls and has a handy app that helps you navigate around town, with the concierge on speed dial in case you still get lost, the pop-up tv cabinet, Nespresso machine, and the aromatherapy rainfall shower.
Next time someone asks me about my idea of foodie heaven, I’ll just describe the meal I had at The Serras’ restaurant, El Informal: to start, little sharing platters of patatas bravas in the shape of long, dip-friendly chunky fries (extremely moreish), flamed tuna belly sashimi with a tomato and jabugo ham mayonnaise dip, shavings of veal roast beef on flat bread topped with rocket, parmesan and truffle oil, and fresh-from-the-farmers-market grilled asparagus seasoned with pesto, followed by a melt-in-your-mouth rib eye with creamy potato gratin, and finished off with spoonfuls of hot dark chocolate coulant with cinnamon ice cream and a red berry mille-feuille with cream and fresh herbs.
Who goes there?
The Serras attracts a discerning, international crowd and is ideal for a romantic weekend break or a glamorous getaway with your gal pals.
Out & about:
A great way to explore the city is by bike if the weather is nice. Cycling tours, such as the ones run by Cruising Barcelona, offer guided sightseeing during a three-hour leisurely spin around town. Happily pedalling along stone-flagged streets on our brightly coloured and very comfortable Dutch ‘grandma’-style bikes, we got a real flavour of the Catalan capital as we whizzed past food markets and architectural masterpieces.
One of the most famous of which is, of course, Casa Batlló, a whimsical building on Passeig de Gràcia designed by Antoni Gaudí, whose name is synonymous with the city and whose inimitable style never ceases to amaze. Originally a family home but now a museum, Casa Batlló is well worth a visit, not least for its summer-long series of intimate evening concerts on the rooftop terrace.
After a busy few days, we got tired of sightseeing and wanted to slip away from the crowds, so we popped into Le Méridien, located on La Rambla, and enjoyed a delicious lunch and cocktail in its CentOnze restaurant before checking into what must be one of the smallest but most Zen-inducing city spas I’ve been to—just two treatment rooms, a steam room, sauna, and a Jacuzzi on the terrace which has fantastic views of the city. A spot of pampering in this urban oasis was the perfect way to recharge our batteries.
Equally relaxing was the two-hour sailing trip with Barcelona Watersports. As we made our way out of the Port Vell marina on board a gleaming yacht, we had a lovely view of the coastline and many of the city’s landmarks. The friendly crew took excellent care of us and we stopped for a dip in the sea halfway through. As far as lazy summer afternoons go, it doesn’t get much better than that.
The worst thing:
Having to leave at the end of our stay.
The best thing(s):
It’s impossible to pick one—The Serras is consistently superb. Flawless service, luxe interiors and an internationally acclaimed restaurant. If I must, it’s a toss-up between the gourmet food and the gorgeous roof terrace.