With its relaxed pace to life, fresh Mediterranean cuisine and distinctive cultural clout (Gaudi is just the tip of the iceberg!), it’s likely you have already considered Catalonia’s capital as a potential city break destination. After all, it’s only a two-hour flight from London and arguably, has more to offer travellers than just about any other city across Europe.
As you arrive for your two-night stay with partner, kids and a million suitcases in tow, you soon discover that this is a place which feels friendly from the off (no warm up is required, especially in the sizzling summer sun). With the city centre roughly 40 minutes from the airport, a cab ride gives you all a chance to enjoy the distinctive sights and sounds of the Catalan culture, whether it’s the fabled Gothic architecture, aromas from the seafood paella or bustling tapas bars.
Art, style and comfort meet in the lobby.
First stop is your hotel for the night, the art-infused Le Meridien Barcelona. Situated on the city’s most famous street, Las Ramblas, and within walking distance to lots of the major tourist attractions, this really is a case of prime real estate. After being welcomed by the friendly Maria and dropping off luggage in the spacious family suite (which can accommodate up to four people and comes with a Wii, blackboard and TV in the bathroom mirror), there’s an opportunity to try out the barista on the ground floor, grab one of the delicious freshly-made cakes and interestingly, vases filled with chalk so your youngsters can unleash their creativity. Family refuelled, the adventure can begin.
Armed with the Barcelona Family Programme (featuring details on everything from the Chocolate Museum to the Zoo and even a tour of the famous Camp Nou) and tips from the ‘Experience Specialists’ at the hotel, Palau Guell is the next destination. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this palace is one of Gaudi’s earliest commissions and features some stunning architecture. Plus, the best part is you can enjoy free entry simply by presenting your room key from Le Meridien, as part of their Unlock Art™ programme.
After dinner that evening at the Cent Onze hotel restaurant, a chance to sit in one of the lobby’s authentic Gaudi chairs and a refreshing sleep, a new day is your chance to explore a different side to Barcelona. So, it’s a picturesque drive of an hour down the coast to the sandy beach of San Salvador and your hotel for the final night, the incredible Le Meridien Ra.
Explore Spa, kids club and pristine beach location. Need any more be said!
Originally constructed as a children’s hospital in 1929 – with the nearby algae bank and iodine-rich waters in mind – the fascinating building is now home to an innovative wellness resort and Spa. A vast lobby is a breath-taking sight as you enter, sunlight and tranquil space in every direction, making you wonder if you’ll ever want to leave.
However, what is a holiday abroad without a trip to the beach? After the art and culture of the city, hours spent relaxing together on the large stretch of sand literally right outside the hotel (not dissimilar in appearance to Venice Beach in LA) and watching the crisp waves, feels like another world. The water isn’t too warm, but with the Ra’s own private section of decking on the beach and bar, no-one’s complaining – a first for the family.
Entertainment for all ages.
Once your little ones have spent some time playing on the LEGO wall at the hotel’s Kids Club and you’ve enjoyed a sparkling cocktail in the gardens, dinner that evening is at the formal and classy Signature Restaurant D.O (where the food is modern and fresh) before retiring to your double room. All rooms come with their own private terrace, which looks out over the sea, an artificial lake or orange trees.
Your final day – which has come far too soon – dawns bright and early. There’s still just about enough time before the flight home to try out the Spa. The range of treatments is dazzling, and just as with both the food and activities, you get the sense here that the hotel are always looking to be pioneers, ensuring that no family has the exact same experience twice. As you enjoy reflexology with the talented Joseph, followed by an authentic Ayurveda massage with spices and aromas, your kids are kept busy at special workshops.
The Ra's Explore Spa includes treatments inspired by Indian, Shiatsu, Thai and Swedish methods.
The trip ends on a high note, as you take a complimentary guided tour of Avgvstvs Forvm, a winery in the Penedes region around 20 minutes away. You bask in the spectacular weather and for educational purposes of course, try both a Rosé and vinegar. This is again all courtesy of Le Meridien’s unique Unlock Art™ programme.
Much like a traditional tapas, Barcelona is about sampling a little bit of everything – be that activities with the kids or just your partner. You quickly realise that with the right choice of hotel and a willingness to throw yourselves into the city’s special culture, it’s impossible not to have a nice time.
Family Suites at Le Meridien Barcelona are available from €400 per night and Grande Deluxe rooms are available at Le Meridien Ra from €333 per night.