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The Mandarin is a true luxury hotel. From the moment you pass the pillared entrance and ascend the carpeted ramp, flanked by Brioni and Tiffany & Co. boutiques, you feel like you are stepping into somewhere special. The glorious architecture of the former bank then stops you in your tracks – the soaring, white atrium and reassuringly solid walls, showcased by outstanding interior design. The Mandarin might well be the most beautiful hotel in Barcelona.
Set on Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona’s most exclusive boulevard, the Mandarin is the city centre hotel par excellence. It can’t compete with the beach-side hotels for views or space, but makes up for it by being closer to the action.
There’s not much to the lobby, and the hotel lacks places to work apart from its formal events areas, but there are desks in the rooms and good wi-fi everywhere. My room when I stayed at the Mandarin in May was one of many constructed from a former bank vault, with the doors and walls to match. A terrace looks out over the landscaped Mimosa garden, where drinks and meals are also served, and over the basketball court of the school next door, from where the sounds of teenagers remind you that you are in a dynamic and active city.
Other rooms, some set in the adjoining building, face Passeig de Gràcia. The jewel in the 5* Mandarin’s crown are its 28 suites. Many of these are larger than most city apartments and exquisitely furnished. If you have the budget, and want butler service while you’re in Barcelona, they set the standard for money-no-object accommodation.
Downstairs, the spa and pool are deeply relaxing and feel incredibly indulgent. The gym is small but functional. A minor point, but one worth mentioning, is the fragrance used in the hotel halls and corridors. I’m not someone who would normally notice, but it is fantastic.
On the roof, a small pool and sun terrace also overlook Passeig de Gràcia. You can get drinks and meals here but the best options are found inside the hotel. Banker’s Bar, decorated with hundreds of safety deposit boxes from the building’s former life, has live music and some of the best cocktails in town.
For food, the Mandarin is hard to beat. The two-Michelín-starred Moments, by multi-starred chef Carme Ruscalleda and her son Raúl Balam, offers fine dining of the very highest standard. BistrEau, by Michelin-starred (and now star of his own TV show) ‘Chef del Mar’ Ángel León is the gorgeous setting for the hotel breakfasts and also the creative seafood cooking of one of Spain’s most talented chefs.
Mandarin Oriental Barcelona: Passeig de Gràcia 38-40, 08007, Barcelona. Tel. (+34) 93 151 88 88