24-Hour Room Service: Hotel Arts, Barcelona

Click to follow
The Independent Travel

Hotel Arts is a shimmering glass-and-steel tower on the sea front in Barcelona's Olympic Village area. You can't miss it. With 44 storeys, it's the tallest building in Spain and a distinctive feature of Barcelona's low-rise skyline.

Hotel Arts is a shimmering glass-and-steel tower on the sea front in Barcelona's Olympic Village area. You can't miss it. With 44 storeys, it's the tallest building in Spain and a distinctive feature of Barcelona's low-rise skyline.

The hotel lives up to its name, showcasing 1,000 paintings by contemporary Catalan and Spanish artists. Each floor features a different artist, with two original pieces in each lift lobby. There is even an "Afternoon of Art" every Saturday at 5pm, when an expert in contemporary art gives a tour of the hotel. While outside, an enormous, elevated fish sculpture by the architect Frank Gehry looms over the pool.

The hotel is hard to fault with its attention to detail in both design and service. Somewhat baffling is the "Bath Menu". With two hours' notice, a maid will come to your room, run your bath and fill it with one of four aromatic essences (tonic, relax, balance or crÿme). At Ptas6,000 (£20) a dip, this struck me as a rather crazy quirk but, had I had company, I might have been tempted to go the whole hog and pay an additional Ptas3,000 (£10) for the "romantic special", which includes a bottle of cava, candles, strawberries and a sprinkling of rose petals around the edge of the bath. For men, however, I suspect the gentleman's bath - "a soothing masculine bath accompanied by a glass of cognac and the pleasure of a genuine Havana cigar" - is always first choice.

There are five restaurants to choose from. The Bar Marina, 100 metres from the sea, serves delicious lobster linguine, and the Goyescas tapas bar is a good place for traditional snacks. You can work off your food in the basement, where there is a gym, steam, sauna, and massage rooms. Walking and jogging trails along Barcelona's three miles of beach are right outside your front door.

Location, location, location Hotel Arts Barcelona, Carrer de la Marina, 19-21, 08005 Barcelona, Spain (00 34 93 221 1000; www.ritzcarlton.com). Barcelona used to have its back to the sea, but since the 1992 Olympics, the city has turned to face the Mediterranean. There is no better place to enjoy the views of the ocean than from the Hotel Arts.

Transport: it is about a 25-minute walk into the city; the underground takes about 10 minutes.

Time to airport: the airport is just seven miles away but best covered by taxi via the coastal ring-road.

Are you lying comfortably? All the rooms are spacious and light, with one wall of every room entirely given over to window. The higher up you are, the better. Not only do the views get better, but so does the accommodation. On the top 10 floors, there are 28 apartments, where a team of butlers is in attendance around the clock, offering a sort of home-from-home for celebrities. Cindy Crawford has stayed here with her baby and nanny, and Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Melanie Griffiths have all taken advantage of the exclusivity.

Freebies: a fresh rose is laid on your pillow each night and champagne is laid on at the buffet breakfast.

Keeping in touch: each of the 482 rooms has high-quality technological equipment including Bang & Olufsen CD players, televisions and videos. They also have fax and modem ports.

The bottom line Doubles start at Ptas50,000 (£174), but you have to pay an extra Ptas10,000 (£34) for a sea view.

I'm not paying that: try the Hotel Gaudi (Nou de la Rambla 12, Barcelona, 00 34 93 317 90 32), where the reception boasts a mosaic bench modelled on the ones in the Gaudi Park. Doubles start at Ptas19,000 (£66).

Comments