Barcelona travel guide
Author: Lara Dunston
Photography: Terence Carter
The location of this elegant boutique hotel on glam Passeig de Gràcia is reason enough to check in, near Antoni Gaudí's Modernist gems Casa Batlló and Casa Milà "La Pedrera", and designer stores for Carolina Herrera and Santa Eulalia. A bonus is not one but two eateries by the Roca brothers, of El Celler de Can Roca fame. Reserve a spot at the counter at Roca Moo to watch the chefs prepare your dégustation; bookings aren't necessary at the casual Roca Bar (see below). Rosselló 265 and Passeig de Gràcia, Eixample
Almost hidden on a lane in the atmospheric Gothic Quarter and not far from Plaça de Sant Just, this relatively new 28-room hotel bears a strong sense of its heritage. Built atop ancient Roman walls, the Mercer has a medieval façade, bare sandstone walls, and a sunny courtyard with vertical garden. It's a short stroll from the Barcelona cathedral, museums and El Born, a gentrified yet still gritty barrio studded with galleries, boutiques, bars and cafés. Calle dels Lledó 7
As with Catalan gastronomy, design is a big draw for many travellers and since opening in December last year, the stunning Museu del Disseny has become a magnet for design-savvy visitors. It encompasses the Museu de les Arts Decoratives, Museu Tèxtil i d'Indumentària, Gabinet de les Arts Gràfiques, and Casa Bloc Museum, Apartment 1/11. Among its 70,000 objects are impressive collections of furniture, fashion and graphic design. A highlight is the rich typography collection, which includes tracing plates, bindings and posters. Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, Sant Martí
Sidestep the touristy tapas bars of Las Ramblas and bend an elbow with locals at microbreweries and bodegas in Sant Antoni and Raval. Witness Barcelona's burgeoning craft beer scene at Fàbrica Moritz (Ronda de Sant Antoni 39-41, Sant Antoni), a pub, wine bar, bakery, concept store and newsstand where fresh, unpasteurised beer is produced on site. At Albert Adrià's white-tiled Bodega 1900 (Carrer Tamarit 91, Sant Antoni), which opened in late 2013 and inspired the current bodega revival, order vermouth and snacks from the blackboard, including sweet Joselito jamón sliced to order from legs hung from the ceiling. Experience old-school authenticity at atmospheric Bodega Armando (Carrer Bisbe Laguarda 3, Raval), where elderly patrons in herringbone jackets drink icy glasses of vermouth.
If you can't land a table at El Celler de Can Roca or Roca Moo, rock up at the Roca Bar, a cool take on the hotel-lobby standard. Follow oysters with cava sauce with affordable tapas, including sublime Iberian ham croquetas, and main-sized "Roca classics" such as fragrant suckling pig with orange and clove. Hotel Omm
Niño Viejo & Hoja Santa
After launching in late 2014, these adjoining restaurants became Barcelona's hottest tickets. A collaboration between Catalan super-chef Albert Adrià and Mexican-born chef Paco Méndez, who worked with him at El Bulli, Niño Viejo is a boisterous taquería known for authentic Mexican street food, and Hoja Santa serves creative Mexican dishes. Avenida Mistral 54, Sant Antoni
Dine by the beach in chef Paco Peréz's light-filled two-star dining room overlooking Port Olímpic. A 10-course dégustation, inspired by Peréz's travels, includes the likes of "sea cucumbers, Thai memories and shrimp". Hotel Arts Barcelona, Marina 19-21, Port Olímpic
Stroll with a culinary historian on a Farm to Fork tour of Europe's oldest market, the 13th-century Boqueria, with the highly regarded tour company Context (which launched tours this year in Sydney and Melbourne). The amble includes tastings of local specialties.
Three former journalists, one with a degree in gastronomy, run Aborígens Barcelona, offering insider food tours in areas just beyond Barcelona. On their 10-hour Outer Food Tour in the Catalan countryside, travellers meet artisanal producers and learn about regional traditions.
Qantas-Emirates, British Airways, Qatar Airways and Air China operate one-stop flights from select Australian capitals to Barcelona.