Monday, November 16, 2009

Highly Recommended: The Hotel Arts Barcelona

BARCELONA -The Hotel Arts, my highrise aerie during my lamentably short recent visit to Barcelona, lives up to its name.

The hotel, a gorgeous seaside property managed by the U.S.-based Marriott Corp. and its Ritz-Carlton hotel group, showcases eye-catching contemporary Spanish art throughout. It makes an art of cuisine, as well. There are five in-house restaurants, ranging from casual outdoor dining by the terrace swimming pool in summer, to year-round fine-dining at Enoteca, whose chef has earned a Michelin star, and classy tapas at Arola, helmed by a two-star Michelin chef. There are no formally awarded stars at Cafe Veranda, as far as I know, but the breakfast buffet there is sumptuous, with the likes of Iberian ham and pork loin, fresh whole figs, a wide selection of cheeses, dishes such as Eggs Benedict with shaved black truffles, and first-class coffee.

The Hotel Arts also benefits from a prime location. It overlooks Port Olimpic, a once-benighted stretch of land along the Mediterranean Sea that was reclaimed for the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. This is now coveted waterside real estate. From my corner suite on the 27th floor, I enjoyed sweeping views of the Mediterranean, the wide, white-sand beach fronting the sea, and - off in the cityside direction - a panoramic view of the Barcelona cityscape, bordered in the distance by dramatic, rugged hills. The suite came complete with two flatscreen TVs, a spacious bathroom with separate shower and bath, an elegant espresso-maker and a bed so comfortable it took a city as enchanting as Barcelona to lure me out of it.

It is something of a cliche to say that the most important asset of a business is its people, but in the hospitality business, it happens to be true. The Hotel Arts has a friendly, efficient staff. They are fluently and smoothly multilingual and ready to help the jet-lagged traveler. They orient you, they help you get grounded and they are a fount of local knowledge about Barcelona.

I stay in a lot of hotels, in a lot of countries, and I like them more often than not. However, few are in the same league as Hotel Arts Barcelona. Highly recommended.

For more information: Web: Telephone in Spain: 34 93 221 10 00.

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