For a weekend full of sinful pleasure, we choose Barcelona as our playground—and list some useful tips so you can do the same. By Anand Kapoor
Step 1 – Pick a Base
Selecting a hotel off the beaten track allows for some mystery. I like places with a sense of history, hence the Cotton House Hotel, Autograph Collection is my recommendation. It occupies an iconic building that was formerly the headquarters of the Association of Cotton House Manufacturers. The stunning vestibule at the Cotton House Hotel is covered in mirrors, thus ensuring that you look your best on arrival. You can reach the upper levels by either a grand marble staircase or an architecturally marvellous spiral staircase. The historic public rooms include an elegant library, several lounges, a bar and a restaurant located in a luminous glass conservatory, and a 300-squaremetre terrace with lush vegetation.
Step 2 – Repent
Before you commit your sins, it’s good to pre-empt punishment and repent in advance. Head to the iconic La Sagrada Família Basilica—Antonio Gaudí’s greatest project that’s been
under construction since 1882.
Step 3 – Pick Your Sin
In a city as beautiful as Barcelona, where you’re surrounded bybeautiful people, it’s natural to indulge in some vanity and stop at one of the many magical sights on Passeig de Gràcia for a selfie or some luxury shopping. For truly creative pictures, though, head to El Born neighbourhood, which offers designer boutiques, cafes, art galleries, and cocktail bars.
On every corner and in every plaza, there is at least one open-air coffee shop, opening up the possibility of lazing the day away peoplewatching and coffee-guzzling. Some of the best ones are in the neighbourhoods of El Raval, Barri Gòtic, Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera, and La Barceloneta, which make up the old city, and also on the Rambla de Catalunya, which is parallel to Passeig de Gràcia.
The world today is full of wrath. And any travel comes with its own frustrations. So I needn’t furnish any more shortcuts. Instead, I’ll recommend an antidote to this sin, which I’m sure you’ll commit. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona is magical. In the belly of the hotel, an oasis of calm awaits you. From their signature massages to the unique manicure-pedicure by Bastien Gonzalez and the Hair Studio by Miriam Quevedo, there is nothing quite like being pampered and having all your stress melt away.
Barcelona is the home of an alternative religion that causes more frenzy than a Madonna performance at the Vatican would—FC Barcelona, and its holy ground, Camp Nou. The best way to visit this club is with a private guide, who helps you avoid the hoi polloi, and if you are lucky, will ensure that you are the envy of all by letting you walk on the hallowed turf.
This is the easiest of all the sins to indulge in. With over 24 Michelin starred restaurants and many tapas bars, you are spoilt for choice. When it comes to drama, nothing can
match Disfrutar. Founded in December 2014, Disfrutar (means ‘enjoy’) was the brainchild of three chefs, Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro, and Eduardo Xatruch, who met and trained at the famous elBulli. Here, you walk through the kitchen as you are led to your table to partake in a non-stop exhibition of sorcery. UMA by Iker Erauzkin, on the other hand, is a lesson in intimacy. Dish after dish inspired by the chef’s love for food and his wife makes you feel like you’re trespassing into the chef’s inner sanctum. The dishes feel almost voyeuristic as you get a glimpse of the relationship through every mouthful right down to the nude palate cleanser served as a lollipop.
The devil doesn’t wear just Prada. And in a city like Barcelona, there are so many options your wardrobe will burst at its seams by the end of the trip. While most people head to
the Passeig de Gràcia, the fashion cognoscenti know that the trick is to go to the side streets to discover the boutiques that showcase local designers. Another great hunting ground is El Born.
In the old town, intimate tapas bars ooze sensuality with dramatic flamenco shows. While you are in the old city, which is a fairytale labyrinth of streets and passages, you must look for the romantic mural titled El Mundo Nace en Cada Beso (‘The World Begins with Every Kiss’), made by the photographer Joan Fontcuberta. From a distance, it looks like two lips kissing, but on closer inspection, a collage of hundreds of photos submitted by locals reveals itself. There’s something romantic and clandestine about visiting a place after hours. Up until recently, La Pedrera, or Casa Milà, was accessible after hours to a select few, but today, you can visit it under the cover of darkness. A sublime soundtrack and unique stairwell projections are just foreplay to the video-mapping show that awaits you among the sculptural chimneys on the roof terrace. The show under the night sky coupled with a glass of champagne ensures that your Barcelona trip ends on a sensual note.
Related: 5 Walking Trails In Barcelona Every Adventurist Must Visit