Menahem stresses visitors “will want to see Gaudi’s Barcelona—the tour we offer in the Barcelona city package. Additionally, if clients are interested in art or music, we will suggest they visit the Miro foundation and its collection of contemporary art; the Barbier-Mueller Museuem of Pre-Columbian Art—the only museum in Europe devoted to Pre-Columbian Art; and the Palau de la Musica Catalana is a Barcelona landmark and one can tour the hall if there are no concerts performing.”
Located in the Gothic Quarter, the Palau is a dazzling and colorful concert hall that offers some of the city’s most coveted musical entertainment and one of the monuments that best represents Catalan modernism.
And when it comes to art museums, well the one not to be missed is the Museu Picasso, also in the Gothic Quarter. Here, clients will view key works that mark the various early times when Picasso was most intensely involved with the city of Barcelona. One of the museum’s most exquisite rooms is the one dedicated to Picasso’s reinterpretation and recreation of Velazquez’s “Las Meninas.”
sleep on it
One of our favorite places to call home here is the Hotel Claris (hotelclaris.com), a 19th century palace that’s a beautiful accommodations option located steps away from Passeig de Gracia. Part of the Derby Hotels Collection as well as the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, this 120-room property is so comfortable and enchanting, it’s difficult to leave its embrace. Once you’ve entered its inviting lobby, you know you’ve entered a special place, where the service is top-notch, the decor exquisite and the rooms, cocoon-like.
Adding to the allure is the property’s treasure trove of archaeological and antique pieces. The hotel, in fact, is home to over 400 pieces primarily composed of Egyptian pieces but also containing English furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries, Turkish kilims from the 19th century, Roman sculptures and mosaics from the second and third centuries, original engravings commissioned by Napoleon in 1812 and Indian and Burmese sculptures from the fifth to 13th centuries. Even the rooms—including a number of suites—are decorated with original pieces of Roman, Egyptian and Hindu art and since each accommodation is uniquely designed, guests will always be in for a delightful surprise—perhaps fine wood paneling, gold leaf tones, a metal hardboard. But whatever the decor, elegance reigns throughout.
The building itself, too, is a showpiece, blending the old and the new in a whimsical manner, with corridors winding around a patio that cuts through the building from top to bottom, and housing two panoramic elevators that lead up to the terrace. On the ground floor, the patio forms a large interior garden made up by a pond with two waterfalls and an area with white marble stones in the style of a Japanese garden.
But it’s the rooftop terrace that’s really this property’s most fabulous centerpiece. It’s easy to let the evening slip away here, delighting in the culinary creations cooked up at the onsite East 47 Tapas Bar, having a drink or two (very well made, we might add) and just looking out at the phenomenal views of the city that the terrace affords.
“We offer a variety of hotels [on our packages],” says Menahem, “but we do love the Hotel Claris. It is a gorgeous property, centrally located, elegant, great atmosphere. It has a great rooftop terrace where one can enjoy a drink at the end of a day and enjoy a great view of the city.” The starting rate is 210 euros (approximately $290) and use the GDS code LX.
Another top-end stay is at the hip ME Barcelona Hotel (me-barcelona.com), part of the Melia collection and located in the trendy 22@ district. This newly opened property attracts an international crowd looking for contemporary design. Rooms, all with floor-to-ceiling windows, face either the city or the sea, and offer the latest state-of-the-art technology including 32-inch interactive plasma TVs, free WiFi, audio system for iPods, subdued lighting and remote-controlled dark-out curtains. The beds are very comfy with soft-white high-thread count sheets.
The hotel has some great eating venues, too, such as DOS, a Mediterranean restaurant located next to the lobby. Tell clients to try the lamb shank and the foie gras, and to not miss the delicious olive oil made for dipping crusty fresh breads, all topped off, of course, with the best Spanish wines. Cozying up to the restaurant is a fun bar where guests can enjoy an after dinner drink complemented with music by the resident DJ. It’s a great place to get the flavor of the local Barcelona scene, particularly on weekends.