Travel Diary: Barcelona

We all know how much I travel for business and pleasure, whenever I get the chance. But my travel patterns have nothing on the team at SMAC—they are always on the go, heading to some pretty amazing places around the globe. One of the most recent trips was to the Catalan capital, Barcelona, one of Spain’s most cosmopolitan cities. And it has everything you might want in a vacation destination: incredible architecture, fantastic food, great weather, a vibrant art scene and night life, and beautiful beaches. 

Stay: Located in the heart of Barcelona is the very cool Negresco Princess Hotel. We loved it because it made all of the places we wanted to visit during our stay easy to reach on foot. The hotel was modern and stylish with a great vibe—and starting the day with yoga on the panoramic roof terrace was pretty fantastic. The W Hotel is another great spot to call su casa away from home: designed by world-renowned architect Ricardo Bofill, the hotel is located on the beachfront along the Barceloneta Boardwalk and offers amazing views of the sparkling Mediterranean.

Eat: If there’s one thing Barcelona is not short on, it’s places to indulge in spectacular food and drink. If a cup of coffee is what you’re after, look no further than La Granja, which has a list of coffee drinks that will make your head spin. If you’re looking for a seriously authentic experience for breakfast or lunch, stroll the food and exotic fruit stalls at the legendary Boqueria Market. For lunch, which is traditionally the biggest meal of the day, check out the quirky La Flauta, chic La Luna, or Pez Vela, known for its sea views, salads, and paellas. Dinner in Barcelona is always on the later and lighter side, and vegetarian restaurants Rasoterra and Teresa Carles were delicious. After dinner, grab a drink at Milk Bar & BistroBarCeloneta Sangria Bar, or one of the city’s secret speakeasy bars, like Papillon and El Armario.

Do: A 12-minute walk from the Negresco Princess Hotel is the Arc de Triomf (or Arco de Triunfo en español), built by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas in 1888 as the main access gate for the Barcelona World Fair. From there, a scenic 20-minute stroll will bring you to perhaps one of the city’s most iconic structures, La Sagrada Família: the spectacular Catholic temple that has been under construction since it was started in 1882 (it’s due to be completed in 2026). Take a break in the leafy Plaça de Gaudí, a park with views of the Sagrada Família. Head over to Casa Batlló, home to the Antoni Gaudí Modernist Museum, and then take a leisurely 15-minute stroll to the spectacular Barcelona Cathedral. Considered one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Barcelona, El Born is a great way to spend an afternoon: explore the stores and boutiques, visit the Picasso museum (which houses the most extensive collection of the artist’s works), or take break with a glass of sangria. El Born Centre de Cultura, the old market of Born turned into a cultural center, which is situated near Passeig del Born: the promenade (one of those places where you can’t but just sit and people-watch) stretches from the church of Santa María del Mar to El Born’s Santa Caterina Market, a locals’ landmark with an astonishing assortment of fruit, cured meats, cheeses, and fresh fish from the Mediterranean.