Two qualities set this luxurious mountaintop retreat apart: its peace and privacy, and its stunning panoramic view. Built high above the city in 1925 by the pharmaceutical magnate Dr. Salvador Andreu as a retreat for Barcelona's well-to-do, the Gran Hotel la Florida was acquired in 2003 by the Stein Group and extensively remodelled. Guest rooms are done in soothing tones of beige, white and brown, with the original hardwood plank floors, Art Nouveau furniture and Gaudí-esque
headboards on king-size beds. Bathrooms have double sinks and showers the size of walk-in closets. Lay back and savor the view from the sprawling garden terrace, laid out with box hedges into intimate private spaces, with access to the L-shape indoor-outdoor pool. Be aware: unless you come by car, you are a captive clientele. It's a pricey 20-minute taxi ride into Barcelona, and the hotel's own shuttle bus to the top of Passeig de Grácia runs only three times a day, with the last return at 4:30 pm. There is literally nothing anywhere nearby the hotel itself but the Tibidabo amusement park, which cuts both ways: great if you have youngsters in tow, but a bit of a noisy intrusion if you've come for a romantic weekend.