Forever remaining number one of our favourite hotel groups, the Mandarin Oriental is truly a pied-à-terre in every city: from the Hong Kong flagship to the Bangkok beauty and Big Apple gem. Housed in a former bank along the glamorous Passeig de Gràcia shopping district, the brand's Barcelona outpost is a beacon of timeless luxury in the heart of the sunny city. Opening in 2009, you can still see glimpses of the former fund, starting with the marble pillars at the outset. Only a short walk away from the modernist hotspots and sights of Gaudi's Casa Batlló, this stay is seriously special.
This article is also available to read in Chinese (HK).
There is a pleasing coherence to the entire undertaking, inside and out. Walk up the gilded runway up to the lobby and you’re greeted with the friendly bell boy and delightful concierge, waiting to whisk you to the front desk. Still and fizzy water is chilled on the side ready for thirsty guests to mull over whilst gazing up at themselves at the mirrored ceiling. The whole lobby exudes an aura of sleek splendour, and we couldn’t wait to tour the rest of the hotel.
We stayed in the Mandarin Junior Suite, with the room views being either the Mimosa Garden or Passeig de Gràcia. You can expect airy high ceilings and golden accents, pitched at just the right level of sophistication. Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola fuses velvet and leather upholstery with the underlying signature oriental flair flawlessly.
Nightly turndown with soft slippers and bedside house chocolate includes a uniquely Spanish touch. Each and every room has been engineered to block out street noise, a facet any easily disturbed sleeper will greatly appreciate in traffic-addled downtown. All suites come with butler service.
Bathrooms are fitted with gleaming his and her's sinks, with a glass-enclosed rainforest shower.
The hotel is rife with an array of top notch dining options too, with an option for every type of discerning diner. You’d have to stay a while to exhaust the options, which are impressive, even for a hotel of this size. The MO's Moments is managed by Carme Ruscalleda, and inspired by traditional Catalan cuisine. As one of the most famous chef's in the country, Ruscalleda is one of the most famous chef's in Spain, holding seven Michelin stars for her restaurants in Spain and Tokyo.
The hotel's Blanc is a stunning white dining room at the foyer of the hotel serving all-day dining; with a lavish buffet breakfast in the morning, and moving to casual fare in the evening. Banker's bar is a moody affair, paying homage to the building's history. With its ceiling constructed from the safety deposit boxes, we made full use of the extensive cocktail list during our stay. Lastly, the Mimosa Garden houses a stunning bar is an exclusive refuge to the delights of the buzzy shopping district outside the walls.
The service is flawless. At breakfast, politely inquire as to what happened to the pancakes you ordered a while ago, and you’ll turn back to your table to find the dish have been delivered by another waiter, with silken efficiency, in the time it had taken to needlessly accost her colleague.
One of the main draws of this property for us was the MO spa and gym. The gym at the MO has multiple rooms and every bell and whistle you could imagine. Do you want to do heavy barbell deadlifts? No problem. A straightforward Peloton workout? There are two bikes available. Boxing drills with a trainer? Just ask. Circuits with weights? Right this way! Our only complaint was getting slightly lost, as the gym room is located behind the pool, so you have to snake your way around the indoor pool.
The spa, located in the lower ground floor of the property, has a tremendous reputation and inspires fierce loyalty. You may be first tied up in knots and then untied in floods of tears – a completely unexpected and unprecedented emotional reaction to pampering of this kind – by the utterly expert therapists. We enjoyed the MO's signature massage by a delightful Italian masseuse, and it was safe to say we have never slept better afterwards.
Worth it? Dear God, yes. Every euro of it. This is a hotel so good it will colour your perceptions of an entire city. A house negroni, in the Bankers Bar, served with some chorizo flavoured popcorn, will give those perceptions a still more lustrous and rosy tint.