I took this picture from my hotel room: Paseo de Gracia, the heart of Barcelona.
Recently I spent some time in Barcelona and was so taken by it, I could not believe it had been years since I was last there….Barcelona is one of those rare cities that seems to have it all- extraordinary restaurants, amazing architecture, great museums, glorious design, wonderful shopping, cool galleries, beautiful people, an incredibly hot nightlife, some of the best street art that I have experienced and an amazing beach….
The streets of El Born, chic and misterious.
If I could, I would spend so much more time roaming the streets of El Barrio Gotico (the oldest and most well-preserved in Europe), El Born and El Raval because it feels that the maze of streets is never ending, and there are tons of treasures just waiting to be discovered.
Barcelona is all about architechture and design. The stairs that lead to Montjuic (one of the two mountains that surround Barcelona) are breathtaking!
A playground on the streets of San Pere.
Street Art in El Raval. The magic of Miss Van (who moved from Paris to Barcelona to be able to get her creative juices flowing) is forever imprinted on this door.
Since the pictures I took speak for themselves, I just wanted to give my top ten recommendations in galleries + design shops and although I don’t write about food, I do love to eat, so there was no way I was going to leave my fave restaurants/bars out of this post.
If you go to Barcelona, the operative word is “enjoy! Or better said “que t'ho passis bé!”
At the installation of Japanese artist Yoshi Sislay for Vinçon
In Barcelona, everything is about innovative style, design and art. This mural impacted me so much... It was at the Bimba & Lola store in the Paseo de Gracia.
Top Ten Galleries/Design Stores
1. Galeria Hartman: http://www.galeriahartmann.com/
: Mostly cutting edge photography but they also represent a few artists that work with other media. I have never loved watercolors but the works of Ramon Sanmiquel are so impressive, I could not take my eyes off of them.
Princess, by Ramon Sanmiquel
2. Galeria Mito http://www.mitobcn.com/
: This is a super cool gallery that represents artists who push the envelope. I really liked most of what they have because it’s all colorful, vibrant and with a sense of humor. Pop surrealism, street art, “lowbrow art” (is there really such thing?), that’s the kind of art that they have and I love it!
The show of Erik Mark Sandberg at Galeria Mito
3. Galeria Safia: http://www.galeriasafia.com/
: Great installations, great events, great atmosphere and great mid-career and emerging artists. What else can you ask for?
4. MasART Galeria http://www.mas-art.net/
: Emerging artists from around the world populate the roster of this cool space always at the forefront of contemporary art.
5. N2 Galeria: http://www.n2galeria.com/
: From street artists to installations and everything in between, N2 Galeria has an extraordinary selection. I’m particularly in love with the works of native Barcelonan street artist, Sixeart.
6. Raíña Lupa http://www.rainalupa.com/
: A very well curated “prints and editions” gallery with some of the most interesting photography works that I have seen in a long time.
7. Galeria 3 Punts http://www.3punts.com/
: Offers as very good selection of local and international established, mid-career and young artists. I like that they work with a few artists whose main focus is sculpture, and that gives a lot of depth and a whole different angle to the shows they curate.
8. Vinçon http://www.vincon.com/
: The mecca of design (and everything in Barcelona IS about design) if Vinçon has it, it’s either a true design classic or about to become one!
9. El Ingenio http://www.el-ingenio.com/
: When I entered this store, I didn’t know if it was creepy or fantastic until it dawned on me that it has been in the Barrio Gotico for more than 160 years (that’s right, 160 years) and that it is as magical as it can be. All sorts of masks, costumes, giant dolls…simply impressive and worth a visit.
El Ingenio, both magical and a little creepy.
10. Cha Cha http://www.cha-cha.es/
: home of small objects, cups, plates, tea sets and a lot of cool stuff, all with a very innovative design inspired by Barcelona itself.
The super popular "Casa Lolo" series at Cha Cha in El Born.
*Bonus: Ivo & Co http://www.ivoandco.com/
: this one not a gallery and not a design store per se, but such a beautifully curated shop in El Born, that it also had to get its place of honor here; vintage finds, signs, pottery, chandeliers, retro wallpapers (and across the street from the main store, Ivo opened a children's branch with the same vintage/retro feel). Inspiring.
The kids' branch of Ivo & Co.
1. Tapas 24 http://www.tapac24.com/
: We went to this place six times because all they have is so amazingly good, so unpretentious (and actually so unhealthy!) This is a Carlos Abella restaurant (he is one of the most famous chefs in Barcelona) and it has a great sidewalk space. A++
2. Comerc 24 http://comerc24.com.mialias.net/
: The high-end version of Tapas 24… Carlos Abella, a disciple of Ferran Adrià, is a master of small, high-end tapas that are so amazing and so flavorful… a beautifully designed place and an iconic Barcelona dining spot.
3. Banker’s Bank http://www.mandarinoriental.com/barcelona/dining/bankers_bar
: The Mandarin Oriental in the Paseo de Gracia is a stunningly designed hotel which used to a bank. Patricia Urquiola, who is the hottest interior designer in Spain (some would venture to say in Europe) designed the Mandarin and also the Banker’s Bar. The cocktails are to die for.
The Mandarin Oriental, entirely designed by that genius that is Patricia Urquiola
4. Drolma http://www.hotelmajestic.es/
: Michelin star, fancy, beautiful, the best bread we have eaten in our lives!
5. Bar Mut: A fantastic, inventive tapas place with one of the best wine lists that I have crossed paths with!
6. Cal Pep http://calpep.com/
: Traditional tapas bar, so cool and so authentic. The place to be is the front bar. Pep, the owner, is usually there, hanging out with everybody, laughing and telling jokes.
7. Eclipse Bar http://www.w-barcelona.com/eclipse-bar
: At the top of the W Hotel. Food and drinks are ok, but the view is worth all the money in the world!
From the top of Eclipse at the "W" Hotel
8. Tickets http://ticketsbar.es/
: After Ferran Adrià closed the incredibly famous “El Bulli”, he opened “Tickets”. Although a bit touristy and off the beaten path, the food is really good and the service is beyond words. In one of the hidden bars they have a “top ten memories from El Bulli” with a selection of appetizers and finger food from the sorely missed restaurant.
9. Monvinic: http://www.monvinic.com/
: an amazing wine bar with a beautifully designed space and an extensive selection of wines by the glass and half bottles. The Wall Street Journal once called it "The Best Wine Bar in the World".
Monvinic from the Connoisseur room
10. Can Majó (at Barceloneta beach) http://www.canmajo.es/
: Best paella I have eaten in my whole life, hands down.
*Bonus: Chiringuito del Mar http://www.chiringuitodelmar.com/
: this place isn’t fancy, and the food may not be the best, BUT, the DJ is so amazing and the sighting (in the middle of Playa de La Mar Bella) is so wild and beautiful at the same time, that is totally worth the walk. If this one proves to be too extreme, then its sister shack, Chiringuito del Sol, in Playa Bagatell, has a similar vibe (although a bit more tamed).