We are back AGAIN! My friends and I decided to go on another group vacation with each other. Hard to believe that we all started as a bunch of strangers years ago and now we are all family. Even though we have lost of a few of the original crew, we still have managed to find some incredible people that are able to fit in with the rest of us.
This year, we decided to go to Lisbon, Portugal and Cannes, France. We agreed to spend about four days in each city.
As I have mentioned before, If I am flying overseas, I really, really try hard not to connect anywhere. I hate it so much. So, I decided to find another city that was relatively close to Lisbon that I could fly non-stop to. Voila! Barcelona came to mind. I had never been before and I heard all these incredible things about the city, the people, and the food. Food was probably the main reason why I wanted to go.
I talked to the group and told them that I wanted to go to Barcelona first and that others are welcome to join me. Luckily, a few friends of mine decided to tag along.
Our total itinerary was three days, which was a good amount of time to see the main sites in the city. Check out what we did.
The Cotton House Hotel– Located off the main drag in Barcelona, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. This is apart of the Marriott Autograph collection, meaning it’s on the higher-end. It took me time to really convince myself that this is where I wanted to stay. Barcelona has so many hotels to choose from in all different parts of the city. I had a ton of Marriott Bonvoy points I could use, so I needed to find a Marriott property. The W hotel came up as a top recommendation because of their rooftop bar and because it sits on the beach. Seemed like a no brainer, right?
I decided not to go with the W because even though being on the beach was nice. It was on this peninsula which was miles away from everything. I would have felt stranded.
I chose the Cotton House because of the old glamour style and because of it’s historical background. I read the reviews and decided this would be it. And I couldn’t be happier about our selection.
Upon arrival, the front desk staff greeted us with a bottle of champagne and huge smiles on their face. As a Titanium elite member of Marriott, I received a complimentary drink voucher for two, as well as complimentary breakfast every morning. Already, a very nice cost savings! We checked in very quickly and they offered to take us on a tour of the hotel and explain the history. The staff there are predominately women, beautiful women at that and they were these gorgeous linen type dress as their uniform. Here I am dripping with sweat with my eyes half-closed from the Xanax I took from the red-eye flight. I looked great.
Read up on the history here
The service was impeccable. The rooms were beautifully done. Very sleek and contemporary. The bed was very comfortable. The rooftop is beautiful (didn’t spend much time there). Breakfast in the morning was fantastic–tons of charcuterie and cheese option. My ABSOLUTE favorite. Plus tons of baked breads and yogurts.
Eat & Drink
Spain is known for their extraordinary culinary scene. One of the traditional dishes they serve, which I am sure you recognize is Paella! It can come in many forms and is relatively easy to find all over. One tip- only order the paella during lunch hours. That’s when the fish is freshly caught and you’ll get the best flavors.
- Bar Canete– I got this spot from Travel & Leisure magazine. Such a good recommendation! The space is small, but the staff is friendly and food is on point. We ordered: lobster croquettes, toro carpaccio, black angus sirloin, baby scallops, octopus, and red prawns. I LOVE THIS PLACE!
- Mordiscas Restaurant– Beautiful covered garden restaurant. Very simple and let’s the food speak for itself. We ordered: poached egg & asparagus, fried artichoke, crunchy chicken wings
- La Boqueria Market– A market located in city center of Barcelona. They have tons of different stalls for you to choose from. You can get a charcuterie cone (I died and went to heaven) or freshly shucked oysters.
- Old Fashioned– A very cool speakeasy spot that is named one of the World’s Best Bars. These cocktails are insane and are a special production. Most likely a tourist trap, but it’s worth it! We ordered: “fish without chips” and “don’t call me doll”
- Boca Chica– This place is a MUST. A very cool spot-reminds me of New York. The drinks are so tasty, the crowd is very attractive and the music is great. Lastly- check out the bathroom, I promise you will never see anything like it.
- Ethniko– Very boho-chic. Sits very close to the beach. We ordered: the octopus (comes out on a huge skewer and it is phenomenal and super fresh) and the cous-cous burger. Full disclosure, never in my life have I ordered a veggie burger and this is the only place I would order it again–cous-cous, sundried tomatoes, spinach, feta cheese, and some really tasty sauce.
- Pepito– This place is gorgeous and a perfect date night spot. The food and staff were incredible. We ordered: short rib raviolo, tomahawk steak, and squid ink pasta.
- Sagrada Familia– the most famous church in Barcelona. If you are an architectural buff, this is definitely a place you want to check out. The tall spirals and gothic tones leaves a haunting display in the city. Purchase tickets in advance to go inside!
- Cocktail Making Class– While I was putting together my list of places to eat and drinks, I came across this one bar called Collage Art & Cocktail Social Club. While tooling around on their website, I saw that they have a private cocktail making class. It can be as small as two people to 30 people. The bartender takes you through the history of the traditional cocktails such as the mojito or a margarita, and the different various ways you can make them. The best part–you get to ALL of the cocktails he makes. Approximately 15 or so. Then you learn how to make your favorite cocktail behind the bar. Our bartender, Andrew, was awesome and slightly dreamy- so charming and funny. He truly made the experience a lot of fun. The cost is about 36 USD per person.
- Park Guell– in 1900, Entrepreneur, Eusebi Guell hired architect, Antoni Gaudi ti construct a home for him family. Essentially, the project became much larger and Gaudi was tasked to build estate homes for all the wealthy in Barcelona. The homes weren’t widely popular and and construction ceased. It eventually became a public park in 1963 and in 1984 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tickets are required for entry.
Flamenco Show– Flamenco is a popular traditional dance in Spain. There are many different variations of this dance with a plethora of shows to choose from. You can do dinner and a show or just drinks! Cost: 40 euros per person.
Additional Things for you to Do
There are literally so many things you can do in Barcelona that we barely touched on. Check them out below:
- Visit the Picasso Muesum
- Take a cooking class- find a paella class!
- Visit Costa Brava & Girona
- Half-day sailing cruise
- Go to a football game
- Visit a winery
- Visit Casa Mila
- Visit Parc de la Ciutadella
- Go on a tapas restaurant crawl
Here are some helpful tips you should know before traveling to Barcelona.
- Bring comfortable walking shoes. We did a lot of walking and I mean A LOT of walking in Barcelona. The city is huge and there is so much to see.
- Ride a hop-on/hop-off bus. If walking really ain’t your thang, I highly recommend getting 48-hour pass. You get to see all the touristy spots and then can decide where you want to spend more time. It’s also a great mode of transportation since the city does not have Uber.
- Purchase tickets in advance. I cannot stress this enough. They tell you to buy tickets in advance for a reason. I know some people do not like to plan their vacations. But at least identify some highlights of what you want to see and plan to make a visit the next day.
- Learn a little of Spanish- even some Catalanian. A lot of taxi drivers did not speak English, so it made it a little difficult getting around. But one should always attempt to speak the native language- the locals very much appreciate it.
I loved the whole vibe that is Barcelona. If you love food, nightlife and some culture, this is definitely a city you should add to your list.
While I had a great time, it wasn’t a city I personally could connect with. Maybe it was the heavy rain that prevented us from exploring more. But I felt like I saw all that I needed to and am not in a rush to go back. I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me. But, there are many other places in Spain that I would like to visit first before heading back.
I hope you found this guide to be helpful! If you want to know anymore tips or have any questions, comment below. Until next time…xoxo!