Le Méridien Barcelona: Fun family break in Gaudi’s Catalan city
- Credit: Meridien
Emma Bartholomew takes her three children for a fun city break at Le Méridien Barcelona where they stay in one of the newly revamped family rooms.
Le Méridien might well be a worldwide chain, but every single hotel has a special local twist, and in theory with the key of your room you can “unlock” the art in the vicinity.
The idea is that guests get the chance to enjoy art they wouldn’t normally see.
In Barcelona that translates to the lesser known works of the fantastical and fabled architect Gaudi, who helped put the city on the map.
While most tourists are familiar with his Sagrada Família cathedral or the enchanting Park Güell, if you book a stay at Le Méridien you get free entry into the Palau Güell – commissioned by the same wealthy industrial tycoon.
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The hotel location couldn’t get more central, being slap bang on Las Ramblas wide pedestrian street.
It didn’t take my three children and me too long to head down the strip to reach the palace.
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Eusebi Güell was one of Gaudi’s best friends and asked him to build his family a house.
This isn’t any old home – as we all soon realised as we set off with our headphones and tapes on the audio tour.
The commission built in 1888 helped Gaudi build up his reputation and was an important milestone on his journey to become the famous architect he is today.
A stunning blend of Gothic and Art Nouveau styles and a myriad of arches, pillars, decorations and beautifully shaped windows, are set around a central hall which spans three floors and gives the impression of a huge Baroque church.
It’s the stuff of fairytales and you can only imagine how magical it would have been to live in such a home for his daughters and sons.
Back at the grand hotel with its Neoclassical style façade there’s plenty more culture to soak up.
Local artists are given the chance to show their work here and the lobby is quite a cultural hub.
For the eagle eyed, even the design of the carpets has a local twist – resembling a map of Barcelona’s narrow streets and wider squares.
The pictures in each room are unique too and are commissioned by new artists annually.
We stayed in one of the newly renovated family suites, which underwent a revamp in June.
With a chic, boutique design it’s incredibly spacious for four, with a hallway, bedroom and lounge where the sofa pulls out into a bed at night.
We loved the rain showers and Malin and Goetz toiletries in the luxurious stone bathroom.
It was tempting to stay in all day, with its view out onto the quaint tiny side street, no more than five metres wide.
But our city break was limited and we needed to get out and explore.
One of my favourite things about Barcelona is simply strolling around its narrow streets, and the hotel’s location in the old city Ciutat Vella is an ideal point to set off from.
It’s only a 20 minute walk to the Barceloneta fisherman’s quarter.
We headed over to the packed August sun-drenched beach, taking shade under a parasol before heading into the refreshing Mediterranean for a very pleasant swim.
And then we made our way back to the hotel for a stint at its rooftop spa.
What the spa lacks in size, it more than makes up for with its magical view below.
Being way above the bustling city above the rooftops has a calming effect.
On the terrace there is a jacuzzi and sun loungers, and inside there’s a sauna and steam room. Kids are welcome too, and the hotel even provides tiny towelling slippers for tots and bathrobes.
Dinner at the CentOnze restaurant completes our day – which is 111 steps away from the Boquería Market where some of the ingredients to prepare the Mediterranean cuisine are sourced.
Headed by top chef Luis Ramos, he pairs modern influences with Barcelona’s culinary tradition.
You can try all the tapas favourites here, like creamy mushroom croquettes, patatas bravas, and a big plate of the special acorn-fed Iberico ham.
After a peaceful and deep night’s sleep in a boundlessly soft bed, we return to the same room for a buffet breakfast, which is an absolute treat.
There’s something for everyone here - from chocolate Smarties dispensed in a canister, to fresh almond milk for the dairy-free and rather more health conscious.
Le Méridien Barcelona really caters to families and it’s the ideal spot for a fun city break.