Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.
Barcelona is a metropolis, the capital of Catalonia, one of the most popular tourist cities in the world, and as such, has a vast assortment of accommodation options for the 27 million visitors the city welcomes each year. From private rooms and self-catering apartments to boutique hotels and all the big names in hotels — you can find them all in Barcelona.
When it comes to luxury accommodation, Barcelona certainly has you covered. Penthouse suites, infinity pools, fluffy robes, and superb locations are all there if you have the budget. But which hotels are the best? Now that is something quite subjective, in my mind. Yes, you could measure the best hotel by the highest price, bed sheet thread count, location, or even name alone. But “best” is still a very personal choice.
So, here I have chosen a few hotels that offer obvious luxury (if in one case that is not necessarily reflected in the accommodation), comfort, style, history, and, probably foremost, a great location. Are these the absolute best? Not sure. Are they thoroughly enjoyable? Certainly.
The Hotel Arts Barcelona, a Ritz Carlton property, can be easily spotted from across Barcelona. It is located in the tall tower right on the beachfront, next to the marina, with the rather huge Frank Gehry fish sculpture by its side. The hotel lobby is decorated with gorgeous flowers, the rooms are comfortable, and the views are simply incredible — be they over the sea or the city.
You have all the amenities, from a swanky bar to two-Michelin-star fine-dining, and this being a beachside resort, you have great outdoor spaces and two swimming pools. The location is perfect for lower Barcelona; the Parc Ciutadella is just there, the Gothic neighborhood of El Born is steps away, and you have the Mediterranean in front of you, hemmed by a perfect sandy beach with the city behind you.
A former city palace and later the headquarters of the Cotton Textile Foundation, the Cotton House Hotel is a lovely blend of old and new. Plenty of historic details are enhanced by modern comforts and the building seems to span not only the ages, but also various countries. The library, for example, is a picture-book English club with comfortable couches and wood paneling, while the bar by the courtyard would not look out of place in Paris and the staircase lends a Venetian palazzo flair. But it all works and makes for a very comfortable home-away-from-home kind of place to stay.
Located near Placa Catalunya — within easy walking distance of the central attraction and with three metro stations for those further away — this is a perfect location to explore Barcelona. And for that extra bit of luxury, the hotel offers a tailoring service for bespoke suits, should you have forgotten to pack yours.
Walking into the Sercotel Rosellón on a quiet, nondescript road in Barcelona, you are first struck by a separate receptionist in the lobby who keeps turning people away. Next, you are struck by the really quite small and basic rooms — comfortable, but basic. You then can open the curtains. With the Sagrada Familia filling your view, you immediately forget the fact you can only swing a small cat in the room, rather than a leopard.
Here, the luxury is the view, which, when I stayed there, held me mesmerized from sunrise way past sunset. And then there is the reason why this special receptionist turns away so many people: the roof terrace. If you think the Sagrada Familia looks close from your window, try it from the roof without glass in front of you. This small roof terrace is hugely popular and people need to book well in advance — unless you are staying in the hotel. There you go: luxury.
There are certain names in the hotel business that just conjure up utter privilege, and the Mandarin Oriental is one of them. I have never set foot in any Mandarin Oriental without being awed by its luxury, whether it was exuded by understated elegance or by sumptuousness that envelops you like a velvet blanket. The Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona is a mix of both.
Outside, it’s a perfect, ornate late-1800s city residence. And inside, it’s clear-cut with delicately embellished interiors in a muted color palette. The luxury here is the service, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant, and the utterly budget-blowing prices for even the smallest room. There is no doubt that the Mandarin Oriental is probably the best luxury hotel in Barcelona, but few can ever afford to stay longer than one night. If you can, then the rooftop seating area with plunge pool, courtyard terrace, meticulous attention to detail, and location just around the corner from the Cotton House Hotel are definitely worth paying for.
Located on the iconic Passeig Garcia, the Majestic Hotel & Spa is the “Grand Dame” of luxury hotels in Barcelona. Established more than 100 years ago, it is still going strong, having just been voted most luxurious Barcelona hotel by Travel + Leisure.
This is historic style, attracting old money rather than flashy new money. Apart from all the usual luxuries of fluffy robes and the like, the Majestic even has a bespoke scent in its bathrooms. Whether old or new money, if you have it, please opt for one of the penthouses with their personal chauffeur, butler, and private terraces looking out over the boulevard, the adjacent Gaudi buildings, and the rooftops of Barcelona. If you can’t afford to stay, book a lunchtime table on the roof terrace restaurant and enjoy the views.
Part of the award-winning Spanish hotel group Meliá, famous for its luxury resorts, the ME Barcelona is all urban and contemporary chic. Despite being steps away from the Passeig Garcia, this one has a very different look and feeling. Young, hip, and modern, even the outside is in contrast to the swirly and ornate buildings around it.
You get a bit more traditional hotel chic in the restaurants surrounded by stylish arches, otherwise it is all art, enormous photographs of Vogue-inspired models, and hanging gardens in the bar. The rooftop pool, however, allows you to immerse yourself back in old Barcelona with the traditional rooftops in touching distance.
Despite the obvious modernity and urbanity, this hotel delivers on luxury through its top-notch service and personal little touches. And it is the only five-star hotel in Barcelona certified by LEED International — the world’s most widely used green building rating system in the world. The certification means this hotel is taking sustainability seriously, with its self-sufficiency in energy not taking away from the luxury experience in the slightest.
Just off Las Ramblas and the bustling Placa Catalunya, this is a busy location, but the Hotel Pulitzer is hiding in a side street. I have to admit that this is my personal favorite of the lot, probably because it is four-star rather than five-star, and not as imposing as some of the super luxurious hotels on this list. The location is superb with the outside a little less fancy than some of the grand stone buildings on Passeig Garcia. Instead, it’s a little shabby chic with cute balconies.
Inside, you have the open lobby, a lounge, a lovely old-fashioned bar, and an industrial-chic restaurant, all on the ground floor. Welcoming and atmospheric, the rooms are elegant and subtle. The signature Pulitzer Suite is just gorgeous. But it is the turquoise bathrooms in the standard room that really clinched the deal for me. And then there is the rooftop bar. A little oasis in the city, it has a DJ most nights, plenty of vegetation, comfortable seating, and more locals than tourists staying for an aperitif.
A travel writer and guidebook author for the last 20 years, Ulrike’s work has been seen in National Geographic, BBC, The Independent, Australian Women’s Weekly, The Telegraph, The Australian, Fodor’s, France Today, CNN Travel, Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure, CNTraveler, numerous inflight magazines, and many others.
She has written three books for Moon Travel Guides: ‘Living Abroad in Australia’ (3rd edition), ‘Sydney & the Great Barrier Reef’, and the shorter version ‘Spotlight Sydney’ and are all available in print and as e-books.
Having lived in seven countries (Germany, UK, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Australia, and France) to date and traveled to more than 100, she specializes in writing about travel, art and architecture, expat living, and life and style.