A hotel that displays more than a thousand flowers throughout its rooms for guests to enjoy deserves strong credit, a hotel that changes those thousand flowers every single week deserves the highest of praise.
Welcome to the Hotel Arts, a luxury Barcelona-based property that employs its own full-time team of florists, headed by Donna Stein, who skillfully decorates the hotel in fine color. When we were there, the flowers in the lobby even matched the complimentary candies on display. As the weekly transformation occurs every Thursday, the hotel has even created its own ‘Flower Friday Facebook’ for Nature-lovers.
Flowers are not the only design element that sets the Hotel Arts apart from many others. Hugging the multi-story, metal and blue glass structure, is a manicured 1,000 square meter garden – one of the reasons officials term the hotel a ‘city resort’ – part of which is used as an open-air, cinema-on-grass.
Assorted sculptures nearby create added attractions, including a huge goldfish sculpture by Frank Gehry, which was installed in 1992 as the seafront was being transformed for the city’s hosting of the Olympic Games. Fifty-six metres long and thirty-five high and composed of intertwining gilded stainless steel strips, its subtle form is marked by an intense gold color. Interplay between the sun’s rays and its metallic ‘skin’ creates the impression of scales and accentuates its organic form, making this iconic sculpture seem as if it is swimming on air. Nearby are tinkling waterfalls with bamboo groves and an aromatic garden boasting sweet-smelling herbs such as rosemary, lavender, basil, lemon balm and mint, as well as peppers.
Evenings at the Hotel Arts means a choice of six very different drinking and dining options. For a more relaxed atmosphere there’s ‘Frank’s Bar.’ Its low lighting and stylish décor makes it an attractive spot to enjoy a sophisticated evening with an indulgent cocktail or a glass of champagne. For something different, try the Pumpkin Patch whisky concoction and a white truffle mix. The ‘Cafe Verandah,’ is an open terrace of natural stone encased by an array of trees and plants, with informal seating at simple wooden tables.
Chic ‘Bites’ offers fast and informal dishes, with choices such as salads, beef or tuna tartare, cheeses, royal club sandwiches, foie gras hamburger and a wide selection of desserts. Located next to the hotel lobby, its windows look out over the terrace and garden. It is also a good place to start off the day with an à la carte breakfast.
Situated in the hotel gardens near the swimming pool, with views of the sea, Marina restaurant is the star of the summer season, offering light, informal meals in the open air. The menu features salads, cold soups, cheeses and wood-baked pizzas. During July and August, Marina also opens evenings for dinner.
At Arola, chef Sergi Arola showcases imaginative interpretations of traditional Mediterranean cuisine, served tapas style. Weather permitting, guests can enjoy and aperitif or a meal outdoors on the terrace, with stunning views out across the sea. DJs play music every evening with live music ever Thursday in summer and special brunches on Sundays, with treats for kids such as an ice cream cart and outdoor leisure activities like table tennis and table football.
Two Michelin star Enotec Restaurant, overseen by renowned Catalan chef Paco Pérez, offers contemporary Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on fish and seafood, and a cellar featuring more than 700 wines. Paco has a number of Michelin star restaurants in different cities, including Berlin and his hometown, Llançà.
Food cannot be mentioned without referring to the diverse menu in the business lounge. Every day saw a brand new set of selections, diverse enough to satisfy every palate. And with wonderful views over city and sea to boot.
In terms of accommodation, we stayed in one of the duplex apartments on the highest floor, which made us feel as if we were floating high in the sky. Floor to ceiling windows make for joyful wake-ups, greeting the rising sun right from your own bed making you feel as if you’re lying above the horizon. Enjoying plenty of natural light, it provided a spacious dining area and kitchen where, though we didn’t avail of the service being most of the time outside enjoying the charms of Barcelona, hotel’s chefs can prepare an intimate dinner.
Not to be missed is the aptly named ‘43 The Spa’ – located on the 43rd floor, or as officials like to say, “a few meters from heaven,” where indeed we enjoyed some heavenly bliss. How could one not – with open-air terraces offering panoramic views, including one directly through a window of the sauna itself, eight fully equipped treatment suites, hydrotherapy pools and steam baths. An extensive menu of treatments is offered by the prestigious luxury Spanish skincare brand Natura Bissé.
As befitting a luxury property, Hotel Arts offers all the perks one expects but of all of them, the one that stands out head and shoulders above the rest is service – friendly, enthusiastic, impeccable.