Review: Hotel Arts Barcelona, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel (Spain)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Last September, I was supposed to travel to French Polynesia for a holiday of a lifetime. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, that trip was cancelled two weeks prior to departure, so I had to look for a last minute holiday elsewhere. In the end, I choose Spain as a travel destination, where I enjoyed a wonderful time, despite some unusually rainy and dreadful weather. You can read my trip reports here:


Today: Review of Hotel Arts Barcelona, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Iconic design, incredible culinary experiences and the sparkling Mediterranean are what draw visitors to Barcelona, Spain. These elements are also what attract luxury travelers to Hotel Arts Barcelona (operated by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company). Towering 44 floors above the sea, the 5-star hotel is housed in striking skyscraper of blue glass and steel with spacious accommodations, including 28 duplex penthouses. The penthouses are located on the top floors of the hotel and offer butler service and use of a MINI Cooper. Hotel Arts Barcelona is home to a famous two Michelin-star restaurant and features great public spaces, including a rooftop spa and two outdoor pools overlooking the sea.

Hotel Arts Barcelona features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Barcelona.

Have you ever stayed at Hotel Arts Barcelona? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video & slideshow):


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Hotel Arts enjoys a privileged spot on the seafront of Barcelona. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the city skyline, the property is located on the Port Olimpic, next to the marina and Barcelona’s famous beaches, and surrounded by lush terraces and lively promenades. Close by, the district of Barceloneta is a hive of characterful bars, cafes and local seafood restaurants. Although its proximity to the sea is hard to beat, the hotel is a longer walk away from the city’s historical center. However, this won’t be a problem for most guests as taxis are always available and the subway is a 5 min stroll from the hotel, with only 4 stops (or a 10 minutes journey) to Passeig de Gràcia and the very center of Barcelona. The hotel is just 20 minutes by car from Barcelona airport.
  • Hotel Arts is a landmark on the Barceloneta boardwalk: 44 stories of blue glass and exposed steel soaring high above the seafront. The construction of the skyscraper began during the tide of change leading up to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. At the time, the city was immersed in a profound urban transformation that included, among other major projects, the restoration of much of its coastline, revitalizing miles of beaches, reshaping the maritime area of the Barceloneta and Poblenou neighborhoods, and opening up the city to the sea. The famed architect Bruce Graham was commissioned to erect this monumental project that forever changed the skyline of Barcelona. The hotel opened as a 10-story building in 1992, then closed down to finish the construction project, and finally opened its doors as Hotel Arts in 1994.
  • Hotel Arts Barcelona’s elegant interiors – with light-filled spaces and soaring ceilings – exude a residential ambiance, hereby creating a great environment to enjoy an exciting and inspiring city. At the ground level lobby, guests are greeted by a waterfall on the outside, while designer furniture and floral displays await them on the inside. As guests step out of the elevators on the foyer level, they enter a beautiful lobby space which looks out over the hotel’s verdant garden. The lobby, styled in a sober design with a modern touch, has a lovely reception & concierge desk, and plenty of spaces to sit and chat, read or hang out, immediately transporting guests into a world of tranquility and serenity. Marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and huge vases characterize this beautiful space, from where guests can connect to the elevators of the guest room floors.
  • Hotel Arts Barcelona’s 455 rooms and 28 penthouses feature a modern design and look out over sea and/or the city. During my visit I was upgraded – thanks to Virtuoso – to an impressive Executive Sea View Suite on the 28th floor. Due to its corner location, the suite offered a panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the city itself. The living room featured a large sofa and coffee table, perfect for an informal work meeting or to relax and rest. There was a guest bathroom beside the living room, which was ideal for visitors. The bedroom had a minimalist aestethic and the beautiful sea views from the kingsize bed made it the perfect place to wake up. The modern bathroom – set between the bedroom and living room – was equipped with two sinks, a deep-soaking tub, and walk-in rainfall shower. High-end Asprey toiletries were provided.
  • Hotel Arts Barcelona offers a wide variety of bars and restaurants:
    • Renowned Catalan chef Paco Pérez is at the helm of the hotel’s signature restaurant Enoteca Paco Pérez, awarded two Michelin stars. The chef carefully balances avant-garde and traditional culinary techniques to seduce diners with new textures, flavors, colors and aromas. Every dining experience is defined by the three pillars of Mediterranean cuisine: olive oil, wheat and wine. Over 700 fine wines from the carefully curated cellar harmoniously pair with the cuisine.
    • Open for lunch only, Marina Restaurant overlooks the hotel’s terraced gardens and Mediterranean Sea. Serving dishes selected from coastal shores across the world, the creative menu includes notes of Asian and Peruvian fare, alongside local Mediterranean specialties.
    • Mornings are enhanced at Lokal, Hotel Arts Barcelona’s contemporary breakfast restaurant with sun drenched, garden terrace. The lovely breakfast buffet includes warm homemade pastries, sun-ripened fruits at the juice and smoothie station, and Catalan and Spanish specialties, alongside international options and lighter alternatives. There’s also the on-site kitchen ready to conjure up hot meal requests, like homemade pancakes for the children.
    • Located next to the lobby is Bites, a light and healthy all-day dining restaurant that offers a great variety of options: from a complete menu to a quick snack, a comforting made-to-order breakfast or one of the best coffees in the city.
    • Across the lobby from Bites is P41 Bar & Coctelarium, a sophisticated space where guests can relax between meals, enjoy a vermouth, a mid-afternoon glass of champagne or an after-dinner cocktail. The space is centered around a bar holding a sprawling array of bottles, cups, spirits, cocktails, spices, aromas, bar-tending books and other items used by expert mixologysts and bartenders to design their creations.
  • The hotel’s terraced gardens bask in the dappled shade of Frank Gehry’s monumental golden fish sculpture, one of Barcelona’s most iconic works of contemporary public art. Within the gardens, guests can relax in an outdoor hot tub, lose themselves in a good book, or simply stretch out on a sun lounger and savor the sense of natural seclusion. Next to the gardens is a sun-drenched pool deck with a decently-sized pool, the perfect spot for a refreshing dip. The pool deck features hammocks and sunbeds, and drink & snack service is provided all day long. One level up from the main pool deck is another, more tranquil pool deck, with an infinity pool looking out onto the sparkling Mediterranean Sea while also offering an unobstructed view of Frank Gehry’s iconic fish sculpture over its vanishing edges.
  • Tucked away on the 42nd and 43rd floors of Arts Hotel Barcelona, 43 The Spa offers a luxury retreat that draws inspiration from the Mediterranean Sea below. Featuring eight treatment rooms, the spa offers a robust treatment menu including massages and facials from skincare line Natura Bissé. The duplex spa also includes separate relaxation areas for ladies and gentlemen, each with a sauna, color therapy steam room, vitality pool and ice fountain. The spa’s hightlight is the open-air relaxation terrace on the 43rd floor, offering phenomenal panoramic views over the city and the sea. The hotel’s wellness facilities are complemented by a bright, modern gym (one floor below the lobby), equipped with cardio machines – like treadmills and ellipticals with individual screens – weight-lifting equipment, and other workout accessories.
  • Hung within its tall glass and exposed steel façade, lies a world-class contemporary Catalan art collection that is as slick and striking as the hotel itself. Hotel Arts Barcelona’s collection includes sculpture, photographs and paintings – many of which were specially commissioned for their present home. The collection is an ode to Spanish culture, style and modernity, and is spread throughout the hotel’s airy public spaces. It features work by leading contemporary abstract Catalan artists such as Albert Rafols-Casamada, Jose Manuel Broto, Luis Feito, Manolo Valdez and Xavier Corberó.
  • Hotel Arts Barcelona is managed by the famous Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. After its launch in 1983, the company began to expand, adding new properties across the USAA. Within two years, the brand had opened five hotels, including The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and The Ritz-Carlton Naples. This rapid expansion continued, and by 1992, Ritz-Carlton had expanded to 23 luxury hotels, earning its first Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The following year, they opened their first hotel in Asia, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong. In 1998, the Ritz-Carlton brand was purchased by Marriott. Since this purchase, Ritz-Carlton has continued to grow, providing exceptional service and genuine care to their guests in the most desirable destinations on earth.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

  • Because of its coveted waterfront location, Hotel Arts Barcelona enjoys beautiful views over the Mediterranean Sea and is in close proximity to the city’s best beaches. However, its setting comes with some inconveniences as well, as the  property is located far from the city center and the best way to move around is by taxi or subway unless you like walking a lot. During the warmer months, I highly recommend to stay at Hotel Arts Barcelona (to make the most of its beachfront location and outdoor facilities) but during the cooler months, it might be better to stay in a hotel the city center.
  • Hotel Arts houses one of Barcelona’s best restaurants, Enoteca Paco Pérez (and when you book your stay via Virtuoso, you even get a $100 USD credit for a dinner here). However, except for this Michelin-starred venue, the hotel doesn’t have any other restaurant for a dinner at night (the hotel’s three other restaurants are only open for breakfast or lunch). That might not seem too much of a problem at first since Barcelona is home to one of Europe’s most exciting dining scenes, but unfortunately, there are no good restaurants within walking distance of the hotel (so you’ll need to take a cab into town for your dinners).
  • The hotel’s decor feels a bit blend and corporate, as well as dated in certain areas. This is especially true for the guest rooms, which could use an update. In addition, beware that the windows of the guest rooms can be dirty, which might be a bummer given the spectacular views.
  • Hotel Arts Barcelona can feel busy as it is often used by large groups for corporate events or conferences. When you stay at the hotel during such an event, there are often lines for check-in and check-out, and the pool areas might feel crowded. For example, during my stay, there was a 20 min wait for check-in (which was not too bad but annoying nonetheless) and most sun loungers around the pools were taken by noon.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 8/10
  • Design: 7/10
  • Pool: 9/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 8/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good 8.6/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit). Booking via Virtuoso will also earn you Marriott Bonvoy points.
  • Save money: the hotel participates in Mariott’s loyalty progam, Marriott Bonvoy. The program’s elite members are well treated here, with – among other benefits – free WiFi, a room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out  (when available), and complementary breakfast (for top tier members). You can even book a stay here for free with points. Read my review of Marriott Bonvoy here.
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Hotel Arts Barcelona (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Room tip: request a room on a higher floor for the best views.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

July and August are the peak of the tourist season in Barcelona. Temperatures can be sweltering, especially in the city centre, and everywhere is busy, including the beach. From March to June and from September to November, things are a little less crowded, and you can also enjoy warm and pleasant weather. September is particularly good in terms of weather and beach goers can benefit from a sea that still feels blissfully warm after the hot summer months. There’s always a lot going on in Barcelona and there are festivals and events throughout the year, so you might want to research what’s happening and when before making a choice. In terms of booking a suite at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, the winter months tend to be a little bit cheaper, so that’s worth bearing in mind too.


HOW TO GET THERE

Barcelona’s airport (El Prat) is a mere 20 minutes by car from Mandarin Oriental Barcelona. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Barcelona.


PHOTOS

Below is a selection of my photos of Hotel Arts Barcelona. To view more hotel photos (including meals), click here.

HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
GROUND FLOOR FOYER
MAIN LOBBY
MAIN LOBBY
MAIN LOBBY
GUEST ROOM FLOOR
EXECUTIVE SUITE SEA VIEW – LIVING ROOM
EXECUTIVE SUITE SEA VIEW – BEDROOM
EXECUTIVE SUITE SEA VIEW – BEDROOM
EXECUTIVE SUITE SEA VIEW – BATHROOM
EXECUTIVE SUITE SEA VIEW – BATHROOM
EXECUTIVE SUITE SEA VIEW – BATHROOM
EXECUTIVE SUITE SEA VIEW – LIVING ROOM (VIEW)
GARDENS WITH JACUZZI
MAIN SWIMMING POOL
MAIN SWIMMING POOL
MAIN SWIMMING POOL
POOL BAR
INFINITY POOL
INFINITY POOL
INFINITY POOL
INFINITY POOL
43 THE SPA
43 THE SPA
43 THE SPA
P41 BAR & COCTELARIUM
P41 BAR & COCTELARIUM
BITES RESTAURANT
DINNER AT ENOTECA PACCO PEREZ RESTAURANT

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