Originally born as a Ritz Hotel and now a Palace

To avoid confusion it should be stated that it was the famous Swiss hotelier, César Ritz, who was behind the building of this magnificent structure in the heart of Barcelona in the early part of the 20th century.  As everyone knows the Ritz name is associated with luxury hotels in capital cities so this would have been a big departure and a coup for the city of Barcelona.  Regretfully César died before its completion; hence the change of ownership and name to what it is today – Hotel El Palace Barcelona.  However, to many people many decades later it is still referred to as The Ritz.

The El Palace Barcelona has flourished since it opened its doors in 1919 and had been central to many historical events since.  Lots of celebrities have stayed there, with a few even taking up semi permanent residence, including Salvador Dali.  The guest list is a real ‘Who’s who’.  When I stayed there I actually thought I was staying at the Ritz! Have I confused you now?

The hotel is a 5 star luxury hotel with 120 bedrooms and suites.  The hotel is also pet friendly, which means it is able to accommodate diva film stars who always seem to travel with their pooches.  The César Ritz two bedroomed suite is over 1,600 sq ft, which is actually bigger than my entire apartment.  The décor is pale chintzy (ever so slightly on the bland side if truth be told) which gives a blank canvas to some of the more eccentrically dressed aficionados who regularly visit.

Restaurants: When it comes to dining guests are spoilt for choice. Breakfast is served in El Jardin, a smart art deco black and white space where its central stone fountain bubbles and sets the tone for the day.  There is the popular Gastro Hall for all day dining whilst the Amar Restaurant is just perfect for a more special upmarket dinner with all the bells and whistles.  The Rooftop Garden is ideal for afternoon tea or morning coffee and is located adjacent to the hotel’s swimming pool – a delightful breezy outdoor space of calm in a city of heat and activity.  It is also where some yoga activity is on offer for those who want to stretch and tone their bodies.

The piece de resistance (for me) is the Bluesman Cocktail Bar in the basement, which has all the appearance of an American speakeasy from the 1920’s and a great place to hang out. There are live jazz performances every weekend.  The famously alluring Josephine Baker was a regular hotel guest and also performed in the Bar.  Naturally there is a Suite named after her.

The El Palace boasts a superlative Mayan Spa, which aims to balance and harmonize the body and mind so that you can achieve high levels of well being and relaxation etc.  etc.  Joking apart this Spa has won some of the most prestigious awards for spas so I shall hold off on the smart remarks.   Whilst I do like a Spa I am not addicted to having to visit them and the city of Barcelona has so many attractions to visit and enjoy.

The most popular one and well worth a visit is the Cathedral of Sagrada Familia.  This famous Gothic Cathedral was burnt down in 1936 and has been undergoing restoration ever since.  La Pedrera designed by Antonio Gaudi is another absolute must see along with the Park Güell, another Gaudi masterpiece.  Whilst many people do wander along the famous Las Ramblas I personally would give this a miss as it was awash with ‘three card trick’ types when I was there.

One rather weird thing happened on my visit to the El Palace that I feel I should mention.  On leaving the hotel for some sightseeing a conman approached us to try and persuade us to visit a particular leather shop.  He even presented a business card with the hotel logo and said he was the Chef and saw us at breakfast. Thankfully we didn’t fall into that trap but did report the matter to Reception later who took the matter quite seriously.

If you intend to travel to Spain note that everyone drinks Cava, not French champagne; a good Spanish cava is as good as any French champagne and as they say ‘when in Rome…….

El Palace Hotel Barcelona

Hotel El Palace Barcelona,

Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 668, 08010, Barcelona, Spain.

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