Hotel Review: An Executive Suite at Hotel Arts Barcelona
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Last month, I traveled from New York to Barcelona and spent a few days exploring the city before boarding the inaugural flight of IAG's new low-cost carrier, LEVEL, from Barcelona (BCN) to Los Angeles (LAX). After looking into several hotel options, I eventually decided it was best for me to book my two-night stay at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, a Ritz-Carlton property, through the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program. Not only was I impressed with the property and how my trip went, but also with the savings I was able to get by booking through Amex FHR.
As I started looking for a place to stay, I noticed there were a ton of points-hotels to choose from — check out TPG contributor Lori Zaino's review of The W Barcelona for another fine option. I've had great experiences with Amex FHR in the past, so out of curiosity, decided to check and see which hotels were available. Eventually I came across Hotel Arts Barcelona, which looked great.
I used my Platinum Card from American Express — which had given me access to Amex FHR in the first place — and paid 425 euros (~$485) per night for a total of 850 euros (~$970) for my two-night stay in a Deluxe City View Room. While this meant I wouldn't be able to earn the 5x points on hotels I normally would when booking through AmexTravel.com, for me, getting the savings and extra benefits was worth it.
About those perks: during my two-night stay, I got to check in at noon, a room upgrade to a corner executive suite on a higher floor (based on availability, but I lucked out this time), daily breakfast for two (a value of $90 per day for me, but could have been $180 if I'd been traveling with someone), guaranteed 4:00pm late check-out, complimentary Wi-Fi and an 85 euro credit food and beverage to use at the property.
Check-In and Lobby
The day I arrived in Barcelona, there was a one-day taxi strike in protest of ride-share services entering the city's economy, so my plan of taking a cab from the airport straight to the hotel was thwarted. Instead, I took public transportation and rather than a 15-minute drive, the commute took me a little more than an hour.
When I finally arrived at the hotel, it was hard to figure out where the entrance was — it turns out you have to enter through a porte cochère, head through a set of doors and go up an elevator just to get to the lobby. I wish the hotel had better signage outside, but at the same time, I figure many people won't be walking from the train station, they'll be arriving by car.
Although shaded, the porte cochère gave off a very refreshing and chic feel with water and potted plants.
Once I found my way to the elevator, a polite bellman offered to take my bags — I declined and took them up the elevator to the lobby myself.
The lobby itself wasn't grand by any stretch, but it was pretty and well-decorated.
In fact, the hotel changed the décor in the lobby each day I was there. It was exciting to see how the lobby would be decorated day in and day out.
As I approached the front desk, I was greeted by a member of the hotel staff who offered me glass of Cava (Spanish sparking wine), water or orange juice. I opted for some Cava since I'd never tried it before — this was my first trip to Barcelona — plus, I needed a drink after that little transit adventure. It was very refreshing.
After I checked in, the front desk receptionist thanked me for booking through Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts and informed me of the perks I'd be getting at the property. He then said I would indeed be getting a room upgrade from the Deluxe City View Room I'd booked to an Executive Suite Corner Room on the 28th floor. Booking through Amex FHR was already paying off.
When I got to the 28th floor, I immediately noticed how few rooms there were, then realized how much larger the corner rooms like mine were compared to their counterparts.
Room 2807, my corner executive suite, offered views of the city as well as a partial view of the sea. I couldn't get enough of Barcelona's skyline and with a little Cava left in my glass, had to stop for a minute and take it all in.
When you first walk into the room, you have to walk through a narrow hallway. Immediately on the left was a half-bathroom, which I didn't really use at all since the full-size bathroom was nicer.
There weren't any hand soaps or other kinds of amenities in the half-bath, which I thought was strange. Perhaps between the sink and vanity (or lack thereof), there was no room for anything else? I still think soap is a pretty standard thing to have in a bathroom of any size and it was noticeably missing.
Outside this tiny bathroom was a magazine rack, a smart way to break up the otherwise-bare wall.
To the left at the end of the entryway, you'll encounter the living room area, which had two sofas that overlooked a massive window.
I didn't spend much time in the living room during my two-night stay — the rest of the room was much larger and there were better places to spend my time — except to admire the view.
Directly across from the living room was another long, narrow hallway.
On the left side of the hallway was the room's only closet. Inside one side were some hangers, a bathrobe, a laundry bag, an iron and ironing board, luggage rack and slippers. On the right side, a safe, some drawers and more hanger space.
Next to the closet was a work desk, which I loved and used quite a bit.
When a desk comes with views like this, I don't mind working all day.
Across from the desk was the full-size bathroom and further down the hallway, the bedroom. In order to get the Executive Suite Corner Room, I had to give up the king-size bed I'd booked in the original room for two double beds in the nicer suite. In my opinion, having the extra space and premium views from a higher floor were worth it.
Across from the two double beds were another large window and a small seating area with two chairs and a table.
A TV and cabinet were located just to the left of the window and seating area. The TV maneuvered and tilted just enough so I was able to see the screen just fine from the far bed.
Inside the cabinet below the TV is where water bottles, a mini-fridge and glassware were kept.
There was also a tray that pulled out to reveal a complimentary power converter — which I always appreciate having when traveling internationally — a cork screw, a bottle opener and a bottle of Rioja.
Inside the mini-fridge, I found Coca Cola, Red Bull and a small selection of beer, wine and hard liquors.
Also located within the cabinet was a selection of small snacks on a wooden tray. I didn't try anything but appreciated the options and the color of the packaging.
On the other side of the room (opposite the bedroom door and TV) was the other window. As you can probably tell by now, there were a ton of windows in this room an I loved letting in loads of natural light.
The window next to the bed was one of my favorites, as it opened up to amazing views of the Mediterranean. Being able to see both the city and the sea from my room was definitely a highlight of my stay here.
On the table between the two beds was the one part of the room that I think could have been changed — the phone — which was dated to say the least. While other parts of the hotel were updated and looked fresh, the phone was the one sore spot that really stuck out.
Also on the table was a really useful feature — a master light switch for the entire room so you could hop into bed and turn the lights off without having to stumble through the room in the dark. On the switch panel, there was an automatic shade option, which made the room incredibly dark.
Outside the bedroom area through the sliding door and back down the hallway, you'll find the bathroom behind a pair of double doors and directly across from the work desk.
As you can see, when the lights were on in the bathroom, the shades were fairly transparent.
The open doors gave way to a set of his-and-her sinks. The bathroom was pretty large once you got inside.
Immediately to the left was a full tub. I didn't use it during my two-night stay but it was still nice to have as an option.
To the right, you'll see two separate doors.
Behind door number one on the left: a toilet, bidet and scale.
Behind door number two on the right: the shower, which was very large and would have easily passed the TPG shower test with its ceiling-mounted head. This shower was probably one of the nicest I've experience while traveling, between the two additional water spouts, the water pressure and its sheer size.
I was a big fan of the his-and-her sinks in the bathroom, but not of the shape — they were bowl sinks, which tend to splash a lot. There was no soap dish, which I found to be strange.
I was happy to see the Asprey "Purple Water" line of products offered in the bathroom — they smelled great and there was a huge selection including shoe polish, a dental kit, two vanity kits, a sewing kit, a comb, an emery board, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Additional Asprey products, like body wash, shampoo and conditioner, were also offered in the shower and the bathtub.
Overall, I was very impressed by my room. The size, amenities and spectacular views of both the city and the sea made for an incredibly comfortable stay.
As a Ritz-Carlton property, there were a ton of amenities offered during my stay. One of my favorites was fairly simple and spoke to the level of service I saw here. On my first night during turndown service, housekeeping staff placed a glass bottle of still water on the bedside table.
I ended up drinking all the water on my first night and when I returned to my room on the second night, I was delighted to see they'd given me not one, but two bottles of water this time.
Because I booked through Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, I was also granted free Wi-Fi during my stay. I didn't have any specific issues with the speeds, and it even functioned well when I sat with my laptop and got some work done by the pool. Although I ran a speed test in my room and didn't get the best numbers, as you can see below, I experienced no real connectivity issues.
Aside from things like water and Wi-Fi, the property itself was full of amazing views and unique amenities like the artwork below — it is called Hotel Arts after all.
There's plenty to explore on this stunning property, and if you venture away from the area, it's really easy to spot thanks to Frank Gehry's beautiful El Peix sculpture at the front of it.
From the grounds of its perfectly manicured lawn...
... to secret, quiet areas in the gardens, there's a lot to see and you can tell this hotel takes great pride in its exterior aesthetic.
Another highlight has to be the pool. During the one full day I was there, I chose to work poolside and had a great Wi-Fi connection even though I was outside. (If you ever have to work while traveling, the best possible scenario is to do so while sitting by the pool!)
Pool attendants came around several times throughout the day with complimentary snacks — fresh fruit and an assortment of nuts, which were both great.
Food and Beverage
Because I booked through Amex FHR, I was entitled to complimentary breakfast for two every day. The breakfast buffet costs $45 per person, per day and because I was there for two days, I was able to save $90 — had I been traveling with someone else, this would have saved us $180. If you're staying for longer periods of time and traveling with a companion, the Amex FHR breakfast credit alone can really make a difference.
Daily breakfast is served at one of the hotel's six restaurants, Café Veranda, and you can choose to order from the kitchen or grab your own plate at the buffet. You can choose to sit inside or outside, overlooking part of the garden. During the warmer months on a sunny day, it's especially delightful to sit outside.
As for the spread itself, there were fresh fruits...
... as well as fresh pastries, breads and hot items like eggs, sausage and rice. Everything I tried was great, and the service at the restaurant was equally as impressive.
Because I only spend two nights at Hotel Arts Barcelona, I didn't have time to try out all six of its restaurants. On my first night, I was tired from my flight and decided to try out room service. Because I was in Spain, I ordered tapas — the pre-selected option included marinated olives, Manchego cheese, chicken croquettes and a half portion of Iberian ham. To stay with the local theme, I got a traditional Catalan cream with lady fingers for dessert and paired the meal with a glass of white wine.
To put it simply, the meal was phenomenal. There was no way I could even come close to finishing it all, but I tasted a little bit of everything. My favorite was the chicken croquettes, which were perfectly cooked. The cheese and olives were also fantastic, and the Iberian ham was the best I've had. It was pricey though, totaling 67 euro (~$77). Thankfully, I was able to get it for (mostly) free, thanks to that nifty 85 euro food and beverage credit that I could use at the property — unfortunately, it didn't include alcohol or the 9 euro service charge, so I was charged for both of these upon checkout.
Overall, my culinary experience at Hotel Arts Barcelona — between breakfast and the room service — was arguably the best I've ever had at a hotel and thankfully, a portion of it was covered just by booking through Amex FHR. Although I'd like for drinks to be included, being able to save money on room service and breakfast every day was a great perk.
So far, I've raved about the property and its amenities, but where Hotel Arts really shines is with the service. From check-in until check-out, everything was flawless. At check-in, I was greeted with a smiling face and a free drink, and the staff at the front desk were beyond friendly. But it didn't stop there, continuing with every employee I came in contact with. When I first got to the hotel, I wanted to take some time and tour the property but didn't really know where to start. I asked one of the greeters in the lobby and she directed me to some can't-miss spots around the gardens and pool. The following day when I was working outside by the pool, she remembered me, asking if I'd found everything okay and if I needed help with anything else.
Even when the housekeeping staff gave me a second bottle of water, it was a nice touch showing that they were extremely attentive. It's little service instances like this that can help separate a good stay from a fantastic stay.
For my first-ever stay at a Ritz-Carlton property, I feel like this experience will be hard to top. Just about everything during my stay was enjoyable, and I'd gladly stay at the Hotel Arts again on another trip to Barcelona.
From the hotel's stunning grounds to a desirable suite offering views of both the sea and city, Hotel Arts Barcelona has a lot going for it. If you find yourself planning a trip to this fascinating city, consider staying here — especially if you can book through Amex FHR, since the benefits alone can end up saving you a ton of cash and possibly even score you an upgrade.
Have you ever stayed at the Hotel Arts Barcelona? Tell us about your experience, below.