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 remodeled. Guest rooms are done in soothing tones of beige, white, and brown, with the original hardwood plank floors, and king-size beds; suites (including two duplexes) are huge, with decor and touches by design celebrities like Philippe Starck and Rebeca Horn. Bathrooms have double vanities, soaker tubs 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 limo to the top of
Passeig de Grácia runs only four 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.