Hotel of the Week: Le Méridien Barcelona
Touch of style here, dash of cool there
Le Méridien Barcelona reopened this month after a €30m (£24m) refurbishment, and what's new behind the original neo-classical façade looks rather good. Set in a prime position on Barcelona's main tourist thoroughfare, Las Ramblas, the hotel had been lingering in the land of 1980s bland. But a takeover by the Starwood group has seen a major restyling and an added dash of cool. The hotel also offers some classy extras, such as its Unlock Art partnership with Macba (the museum of contemporary art), a five-minute walk away. Your artist-designed room key card gives free access to the cutting-edge gallery.
Deluxe rooms are found on the first to fifth floor. Level six is home to the Mediterranean suites with roof terraces. All 233 rooms have been redesigned with bright contemporary touches, such as chic frosted-glass, boxed-in bathrooms with sliding doors, backlit leather headboards, comfy yet supportive beds, large fire-engine-red leather armchairs, and 42in plasma TVs. Annoyingly, as in many major chains, guests are charged for high-speed broadband access in their rooms. However, there is free Wi-Fi in the extensive lobby area. Guests can also use a business suite.
The food and drink
Le Méridien's new restaurant, Cent Onze, continues the fire-engine red and natural wood design with bold splashes of contemporary art. For early risers with time to spare, New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has put together a six-course gourmet breakfast. This includes eight different kinds of wake-up shots, such as a cocktail of honey dew, passion fruit and green Thai chilli. Lunch and dinner are calmer affairs with a "market to table" theme. Specifically designed to give more than just a nod to La Boqueria food market, this isn't quite working yet. My fresh-grilled salmon tasted as if it had left the sea several days ago.
Four rooms are modified for guests with disabilities. Ramps are located throughout and there is an lift at the main entrance. Children are welcome; so are quiet pets.
Deluxe doubles cost from £224 per room per night, excluding breakfast.
Le Méridien Barcelona, La Rambla 111, Barcelona 08002 (08000 282840; lemeridien.com/barcelona).
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