One hundred yards from the Mediterranean, Barcelona’s Hotel Arts is the tallest building in Spain, and possibly the most over-the-top hotel in Western Europe. This 44-floor skyscraper is striking enough from the outside, its inside-out steel superstructure gleaming in the sun, but the inside is impressive as well, especially the pricey sea-facing rooms-though rooms on all four sides have floor-to-ceiling windows with, at the very least, views of the city or the waterfront.
The Hotel Arts was meant to have opened in time for the 1992 Olympics, and attracted high-profile names, like the Chicago architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, who designed the structure itself, and honorary Spaniard Frank Gehry, responsible for the enormous fish-like sculpture that presides over the pool area. As for management, the Hotel Arts is run by another familiar name: Ritz-Carlton.
Suddenly, then, it’s all clear-this place is the first Ritz-Carlton in Europe, the flagship of what’s meant to be a future dynasty. Its 482 rooms spare no luxury, from Bulgari bath products to Frette robes and Bang & Olufsen stereo systems. And the staff is imperturbable; housekeeping will draw you a bath as they’re dropping off your freshly-shined shoes, and the concierge will mark the tourist attractions on your map whilst calling in your dinner reservations.
The hotel’s location, as scenic as it is, may be its only drawback; half the charm of Barcelona is losing yourself on the alleyways and back streets of downtown. But if you can stand a short drive or Metro ride to the city center, this hotel has everything you need, plus that astonishing Mediterranean view.
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