Best for the high life: Barcelona

I knew nothing about the Gran Hotel La Florida in Barcelona other than I once met a man who stayed there and said it had "seriously the best bedrooms – EVER". He repeated this whilst looking up at the sky. "Ever. Ever. Ever." And it has stayed with me ever since. So when we had four days free over the Christmas holidays I booked it. I know. Crazy.

It's worth saying straight upfront that the hotel is not in the centre of town. Not even a little bit. It's a very beautiful building and it sits rather proudly atop a hill and overlooks the whole city. I just feel I need to let you know the way that you get into town is by driving through lots of bendy roads, in other words, if you get to the Sagrada Familia and you've left your camera on your bed, it's staying there.

The lobby of the hotel is large yet cosy and the man who spoke of the bedrooms with wonder was bang on the money. The bedrooms are IMMENSE. And I should say that I'm using both current uses of that word – indeed, they are very large, but they are also "cool". The bathrooms are all low-level lighting and thick caramel marble. The bath is enormous and the shower is gargantuan and could hold a family of six. We had a terrace that could host a party of 20 and the views of Barcelona are properly breathtaking. Suddenly the mere fact that it takes 30 minutes to get into town seems highly unimportant.

We swam in the pool (just ever so slightly too cold) and the kids ate delicious tuna and patatas bravas (the six-year-old said that they're called that because they could fight a dragon. I didn't argue).

The brilliant things about the hotel massively outweigh what isn't entirely perfect about it. The breakfast is completely and utterly magnificent and you can eat hot, delicious pastries or waffles and the selection of cheeses is actually awesome (I never use this word but they had more than TEN hard cheeses and fresh rye bread). They'll also make any kind of eggs and bacon and egg combo you fancy. The food at dinner can tend to be a bit fancy (the chef likes making swirly patterns but order the straightforward dishes and you'll be safe from foam).

The bar is tiny and lovely with etched glass shelves holding heavy tumblers and the huge wall fountain just outside the spa is beautiful and very nice to look at while you sip local red wine and eat smoked almonds. The spa itself is very beautifully done and if you're looking for a city break that also boasts a freakishly good back rub then this might be the perfect hotel for you.

The downside is that the concierge isn't great. Some of the people working at the desk were incredibly kind but a few were a little stony. I just thought it would be unfair of me not to share this, so if you're reading this and you're going to the Gran Florida, just remember that the service is fine but not amazing. Here's a taster ...

"Hello. I'm so sorry to bother you. I'm desperate to find a pair of water wings for my three-year-old. Do you have any here?"

"No."

"Oh. I see. It's very stupid of me to leave them at home. Is there any way I could give someone some money and they could get some? Maybe by tomorrow or the day after?"

"No."

"Right. Of course. Would you mind letting me know where I could get a pair. Are they available in most department stores?"

"No."

You see what I'm getting at? All in all, it's a great place to stay. Just remember your water wings...

Rooms from £117 per night if booked in advance. See hotellaflorida.com

High-end hotels

# Owned and designed by Colombian fashionista Silvia Tcherassi, the new Tcherassi Hotel and Spa (tcherassihotels.com) is a converted colonial mansion with an Italian restaurant, vertical garden and a spa with traditional South American therapies. Rooms from $295 (£181) per night.

# Surrounded by 29 Alpine peaks over 13,000ft, the Kulmhotel Gornergrat (matterhorn-group.ch) has been a meeting point for high society since 1907. Take Europe's highest cogwheel railway to see some of Switzerland's most dizzying views. Ski, climb and stargaze (both celestial and celebrity). Doubles from €270 (£234).

# White, sleek and curvaceous, the towering Hotel Habita (hotelhabitamty.com) in Monterrey, Mexico has jaw-dropping 360-degree views of the city and Sierra Madre mountain backdrop from the beautiful roof terrace pool; sharp black-and-white interiors by Parisian designer Joseph Dirand abound. Doubles from $165 (£101) per night.

# The Vigilius Mountain Resort, 1,500m up in the South Tyrolean Alps, is only accessible by cable car or on foot. This eco-spa is fed by natural spring water, has a breathtaking mountain-ridge infinity pool and the hotel's grass-covered roof hints at the ecologically sound design at its heart. Doubles from €330 (£286).

# Borgo San Pietro is a 13th-century estate that has been elegantly transformed by its Danish owners into a luxurious Tuscan retreat nestling in the hills of the charming Valle Serena. Bespoke interiors, charming 13-acre gardens and innovative cuisine from the hotel's organic gardens. From £308 per night; borgosantopietro.com

Suggested Topics
News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand labelled 'left-wing commie scum' by Fox News
TV
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past