Old school refinement and luxury permeates this classic five-star joint. From the moment of arrival you’re met by valet’s with top hots and escorted into a grand foyer with double staircase and odes of lush reds and gold trim. Originally opened in 1919 as a Ritz Hotel (the most luxurious brand in the world at the time – and maybe still today), the property has played host to endless luminaries like Salvador Dalí, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, amongst others (though maybe it’s time to take Heinrich Himmler off the website for good measure guys). Though it’s no longer part of the Ritz hotel group, the property is still awash in elegance and is known city-wide as one of the nicest spots in town (but seriously, please take Heinrich Himmler off your list of “famous guests”).
Rooms are mix of modern and classic design with plush carpet, floral felt walls, and mounted TVs hidden inside ornate mirrors. Lux amenities include pillow menus, comfy slippers and robes, bottled water, and a perfect turndown service. The best rooms are undoubtedly the themed suites. Here you’ll find elaborately designed dens named after Dalí, Josephine Baker, Maria Callas, Joan Miró, César Ritz, and Ronnie Wood (fortunately there’s no Himmler suite). Each room features individual touches – some from the namesakes themselves. For instance, the Ronnie Wood suite has paintings by Ronnie Wood and includes a 1956 Wurlitzer jukebox with a full collection of the Rolling Stones’ music.
Italian marble is everywhere, and all rooms come with separate baths and rain showers (though single rooms have showers only and Jacuzzis are in the junior suites). Super nice Chopard bath products are worth of taking home with you.
The grand lobby evokes a regal age with polished marble floors and pillars, crystal chandeliers, double staircases, and lots of gold and red tinges. As you walk past the check-in desk, you’ll get the sense of being in a palace (hence the hotel name) with ornate Oriental rugs, sweeping curtains, a grand piano, and decadent furnishings.
That grand piano gets played Thursday through Saturday from 6-8pm.
The rooftop pool is open April to October and is big enough to get some morning laps. Views are endless and most prominent is the Gothic Barcelona Cathedral. A poolside menu offers sandwiches, burgers, and cocktails.
The spa is operated by Mayan Luxury Spa – a Mayan themed abode with unique treatments. Open from 9am-9pm, this serene space has four massage cabins, chromatherapy showers, and a special Temazcal sauna with volcanic stones and a domed ceiling. Access to the sauna is 30 Euros but think of it as a small price to pay for being transported into a different world of luxury pampering.
One of the treatments is performed by an actual Mayan shaman that alleges to purify your mind, body, and soul – and really, can you even put a price on that?
Open from 7am-11pm, the small fitness area has hardwood floors, Salter and TechnoGym machines, and always has apples and water on hand.
There is no shortage of dining outlets at this hotel, but the best is by far on the roof. Here you’ll discover Winter Garden, a stunning indoor/outdoor space with tapas and Mediterranean cuisine for lunch and dinner. L’éclair, meanwhile, is off the lobby and features a light menu and a glorious afternoon tea. Lastly, there’s the Breakfast Garden, a black-and-white-tiled 1920s-themed space with one of the best breakfast buffets in all of Barcelona.
Bluesman Cocktail Bar is one of the cooler hotel bars in the city. Heading down a flight of stairs to the basement, you’ll discover a circular, red-toned watering hole with velvet seats, and a stage for live music. Known for classic cocktails, the bar is open late and has a regular schedule of live performers through the week. Inside Bluesman is actually a second bar called the Smokers Club where scotch and cigar aficionados can hole up with like-minded impresarios to gab on current events. In the summer, the rooftop terrace features DJs spinning smooth tunes from 7-10pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Ronnie Wood himself once played the stage here.
Jardin Diana is the name of the entire rooftop, which of course features the pool, Winter Garden restaurant, and bar. But the giant space also has a koi pond, solarium, an intimate pergola with a statue of the Roman goddess Diana, and an herb garden that’s used by the hotel’s chefs.
El Palace is in an incredibly central part of the city and at the cross section of multiple major thoroughfares. Just northwest of the hotel are some of the best shopping streets while just southwest is the city center, Gothic Quarter, and access to major attractions, stellar restaurants, and fun nightlife. You’re only minutes away from two separate metro stations, and taxis are easy to flag down and usually waiting right outside the hotel at all hours.
For anyone who has difficulty choosing a place to eat, El Nacional (3-minute walk) is a perfect solution since it includes four separate restaurants for tapas, seafood, meat, and pastries. If you’re in the mood for Michelin-starred dining, head over to the Mandarin Oriental where inside is Moments (7-minute walk), a two-Michelin-starred gem.
If you eat at El Nacional (3-minute), stick around as they also have four distinct bars for beer, wine, cocktails, and oysters. For something more laid back with live music and beer, head over to Obama English Pub, which pays homage to the former US president.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Classic and elegant in every way, this historic five-star spot harkens back to time of luxury and refinement that is missing from today’s high-end hotel scene. Embracing its roots goes a long way here as the level of service is mostly unmatched and the amenities are pristine and palatial. The rooftop is the crown jewel with stunning views, a top-rate restaurant, and hidden nooks for late night rendezvous, but the spa is also wholly unique with a Mayan experience unlike anything else. Combining modern touches with time-honored sensibilities, this hotel brings back a world of hospitality that only the wealthiest once enjoyed but is now accessible to the masses (who also happen to have deep pockets).