Barcelona’s hotel trade may be centuries removed from Miguel de Cervantes's 17th-century description of it as a "repository of courtesy, travelers' shelter," but in the 400 years or so since Don Quijote the city has never lost its talent for pampering and impressing visitors. Barcelona's pre-Olympics hotel surge in the early 1990s was matched only by its post-Olympics hotel surge
in the early 2000s. Barcelona is the premier tourist destination in Spain and the major cruise port in the Mediterranean. Starchitects like Ricardo Bofill and Rafael Moneo have changed the skyline with skyscraper hotels of eye-popping luxury; the Grand Hyatt group is about to add another, acquiring Jean Nouvel’s emblematic Torre Agbar for the latest in it its collection. The real heroes of this story, however, are the architect-designer teams that take one after another of the city’s historic properties and restore them with an astonishing tour de force of taste. Hotel restaurants, too—from the Arts's Enoteca to the Mandarin’s Moments—are among the superstar attractions in the city's gastronomic scene.
Hotels in the Barri Gòtic and along La Rambla now compete for seasoned travelers with the newer lodgings in the Eixample or west along Diagonal; waterfront monoliths like the W Barcelona and the Eurostars Grand Marina, removed from the bustle of midtown, set the standard for upscale hospitality. Many Eixample hotels occupy restored late 19th- or early 20th-century town houses. The Claris, the Majestic Hotel & Spa, the Condes de Barcelona, the Hotel Neri, and the Colón mix style and luxury with a sense of place.
Small hotels in the Ciutat Vella, such as the Sant Agustí, Hotel Market, or Hotel Chic & Basic Born are less than half as expensive and more a part of city life. Overlooking Barcelona is the Gran Hotel la Florida for those who want to be out of the fray.
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