The Spanish city has it all – sun, sea, sand, and lots of culture, but best of all Barcelona has beach hotels, which means half of your holiday can be high-brow and the rest can be horizontal on a sunlounger.
BEST BARCELONA BEACH HOTELS
Picasso pilgrims will love the museum dedicated to the artist, who spent his formative years here. Then there’s the most famous unfinished church in the world, the art nouveau La Sagrada Familia – and Gaudí fans should also stop by Park Güell to be dazzled by the architect’s creative use of colourful mosaics.
Buzzy El Born is Barcelona’s hippest quarter, where ancient medieval alleys are now lined with boutiques and bars.
The W outpost right on the Barceloneta (the city’s beach district) boardwalk wins the prize for most perfectly placed Barcelona beach hotel – the sail-shaped structure right on the sand is the only hotel with direct access to the shore.
Hotel Arts showcases the sea from its spa (as if you needed another excuse to check in for a treatment), and Melia Barcelona Sky is as lofty as its name suggests, with a rooftop pool vying for your attention over the beach.
Some are a little stroll away from the sand, but that just means you can stop off for tapas or sangria – or dip into a museum or gallery – along the way. Read on for the ELLE UK edit of the best Barcelona beach hotels…
You can’t miss the sail-shaped W Barcelona, right on the beach and always bringing the parties. The beach may provide strong competition, but the rooftop bar on the 26th floor is also a pretty great spot to hang out at – as is the cabana-lined pool. Luckily for diehard sand enthusiasts though, the hotel is the only place in the city to offer direct access to the beachfront.
Unsurprisingly with a setting this close to the Barceloneta boardwalk, many of the rooms have Mediterranean views. And if you want to go all out, some of the suites have circular beds from where to lie back and enjoy the sea through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Next to the beach and beside the Olympic port, Hotel Arts gives you the best of both sides of the city, with views of the skyline and sea in either direction. It’s the proud owner of the only spa in town with sea views – and if anything can improve a massage, it’s a nap in a Mediterranean-facing lounger afterwards.
The 44-floor tower, which is as sparkly as the sea below thanks to a clever use of glass and steel, is also home to a restaurant with two Michelin stars (and four other options), two outdoor pools and some gorgeous gardens.
This Melia outpost is in El Poblenou, the part of Barcelona built all that way back for the Olympics in 1992. Predictably for a sleek skyscraper, Melia Barcelona Sky's interiors are just as glossy, with gleaming white floors, shiny red furniture, colourful rugs and contemporary artworks. The views get better with every floor you ascend, with La Sagrada Familia visible from some of the rooms.
It’s close to Platja de la Mar Bella, but the rooftop pool might just captivate you first. Along with more casual dining on the ground-floor, Skyline on the 24th storey is where to head to enjoy the terrace – and panoramic views of the city.
Within sprinting distance (150 metres) of the city’s Nova Mar Bella beach, this adults-only hotel has some sun-worshipping space of its own, including a terrace, a sea-facing pool and a solarium with Balinese beds and hammocks. Be sure to book a room with a sea view (the rest look out across the city) at Occidental Atenea Mar, and in the unlikely event that it’s cold outside, you can warm up with a trip to the sauna or gym.
It’s close to the marina, a short stroll from a shopping centre and less than a mile from two more beaches: Bogatell and Nova Icària.
Home to a serious rooftop pool (who needs the beach really?), Grand Hotel Central is indeed both grand and central, on the edge of the Gothic Quarter on Via Laietana in El Born, and within a 20-minute walk of the shore. The interiors have neoclassical columns and copper doors, with pared-back, contemporary rooms and an elaborate entrance hall with wrought-iron lighting and a sweeping staircase.
The bistro serves classic Mediterranean cuisine, but understandably the Skybar is where it’s at, mostly for its majestic Barcelona views, but for tapas and cocktails, too.
Also in the Gothic Quarter, but just 20 minutes’ walk from sunny shores, Mercer Hotel Barcelona has an excellent location: along with its proximity to the beach, it’s close to the cathedral, the Picasso museum, La Boqueria market and one of the most famous streets in the world (AKA La Rambla). It’s also near the coolest district (El Born) and medieval streets to roam in search of hipster-approved hangouts.
The hotel is formed from a group of historic buildings, set around the ancient Roman walls – and the makeover preserved all of the best bits, including 18th-century wooden ceilings, 14th-century arches and 12th-century frescoes.
Behind a black door at the end of a Gothic Quarter alley, the Wittmore is one for the bon vivants in search of speakeasy vibes, endless aperitivo hours and a sense of humour (the restaurant’s even called Witty).
There’s fun to be had on every floor, from the leafy patio all the way up to the sun deck, which has an incredible dome-filled view, a plunge pool and sunshine-yellow cushions. The members’-club-worthy interiors are altogether darker, with tartan fabrics, velvet armchairs, patterned wallpaper and wooden cabinets giving it more of a country-house feel.
These characterful apartments are in the former fishermen’s quarter of Barceloneta, but not far from La Rambla. They’re set in historic quarterhouses, but ones that have been modernised with televisions, WiFi and air-conditioning. Most of the apartments at Barceloneta Suites have a balcony, and you have access to the rooftop terrace, which has far-reaching views of both sea and city.
For the most space, go for a split-level suite with the bed on the mezzanine. The neighbourhood has lots of equally charming seafood restaurants, or you can attempt to make your own tapas in your apartment’s kitchen.
This hotel might be a short walk from the beach in the Gothic Quarter, but it’s worth it to stay somewhere so stylish, with its high ceilings, industrial accents and inviting lounge-style furniture. Eating and drinking options at Serras span a cocktail bar on the roof – with a plunge pool, fairy lights, DJs and a view of the marina – to a Michelin-starred restaurant that showcases the best of local Catalan produce.
The 1846 building was designed by the same architect behind the Plaça Reial square – and the history doesn’t stop there: Pablo Picasso’s first studio was here.
A mile from the city’s beaches, Ohla ticks all of the Barcelona boxes: rooftop pool, tapas restaurant and artful interiors. Once the site of a palace and more latterly a department store, the historic building is now most notably the home of a thousand ceramic eyes on its neoclassical façade, which was all that remained when the hotel was built.
Under all of those watchful gazes, you can enjoy Michelin-starred meals at Caelis, views of the cathedral served with a cocktail on the rooftop (where there’s a pool) and tapas overlooking the street below.