Almanac Barcelona review: where sumptuous simplicity comes as standard

Ultra-chic bedrooms and gastronomic plant-based dining in the heart of the Spanish city

The Almanac Barcelona hotel suite

The Almanac Barcelona, located a few steps from the city’s fashionable Paseo de Gracia boulevard, is one of three contemporary residences owned by the Almanac group, a family-run company dedicated to growing its European portfolio of medium-sized luxury hotels.

Joining this Catalonian retreat and the Almanac Palais Vienna is the new Almanac X Prague, which opens for bookings in early 2023.

The brand’s messaging is rooted in values, guided by the desire to “explore the elements that speak to the authentic character of the place we call home”. Sure, this is marketing speak, but the sentiment stands up here in Spain.

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The Lobby at the Hotel Almanac

This is a hotel dedicated to the highest standard of service, where everything is specially selected, hand-tested and carefully curated. You can really feel the family’s personal touch and the team’s desire to constantly tweak and improve. “The hotel opened in February 2018 and was really taking-off just as the pandemic hit. Now, in a sense, we are starting over: we have to continuously adapt to a changing world and how this shapes the preferences of our guests," says Sandra Jimenez, General Manager, Almanac Barcelona.

In summertime, perspicacious service starts with a glass of icy mineral water, handed to you as soon as you approach reception, providing an instant antidote to Spain’s intense heat. First impressions count, as do instant aesthetic experiences: it’s impossible, then, not to be struck by the hotel’s magnificent lobby, an area of high glamour decorated in golden tones, mirrored surfaces, glossy marble and dark wood, dominated by a sweeping spiral staircase and dynamic wrap-around mezzanine. Stylistically speaking, it’s art deco with a dash of disco; 1920s ocean liner meets Studio 54.

The spiral staircase at the Almanac Hotel Barcelona

The rooms

From the outside, the hotel is a work of synthesis, combining a 19th-century building and a 20th-century apartment block. Award-winning Chilean interior designer Jaime Beriestain has created a seamless flow between these structures thanks to his signature branch of luxury decor, which is at once characterful, refined and homely.

The Almanac's penthouse suite

The Almanac’s penthouse suite

Shades of golden sand combine with flashes of coppery brown and chocolate to create an earthy palette that imbues bedrooms with a sense of tranquillity and sumptuous simplicity. But it’s not all about the neutrals: look carefully and you find subtle nods to Barcelona’s natural, architectural and artistic insignia. Gaudí’s swirling cathedral spires, his vibrant mosaics and topsy-turvy forms, the geometric motifs of Catalonian tiles, the graceful arches of ancient Moorish edifices and the green stretches of the Collserola mountain range, all find life in the patterns, colours and textures of the Almanac Barcelona’s soft furnishings, artworks and decorative flooring designs.

A junior suite at the Almanac Barcelona

A junior suite at the Almanac

There are 61 rooms and 30 suites, all considerably larger than you’d expect to find in such a central location. The standard room size is 34m2, while suites – many with terraces or Juliet balconies – range from 45m2 to 125m2. Space is also gained in a number of rooms thanks to bowed windows, which form an alcove within. Bathrooms are almost entirely clad in white marble from Ibiza, all glossy finish and luminosity. Double sinks and elegant bathroom brassware complete the look, along with a generous supply of fluffy towels.

A marble bathroom at the Almanac

The restaurant

Floor-to-ceiling windows, velveteen fabrics and plenty of metallic surfaces create a suitably dramatic atmosphere at Virens, the Almanac Barcelona’s gastronomic restaurant headed by chef Rodrigo de la Calle of the Michelin-starred El Invernadero in Madrid. It is a “plant-forward” restaurant known for its inventive use of greens, root vegetables, legumes and fruit, although De la Calle does not see himself as an “experimental” chef carrying forward the legacy of an El Bulli-style cuisine, famously angled towards science, spectacle and radical culinary conversions. Instead, he’s a chef committed to discovering unique flavour compositions that faithfully enhance the organic textures and tastes of his raw ingredients.

Virens restaurant

Virens restaurant

Organically grown products are locally sourced according to the seasons, with plates inspired by Mediterranean and Catalonian cuisine, as well as Asian dishes and recipes from the Far East. Descriptions such as “beetroot tartare with acidic herb salad” and “soup of cold pickled carrots with courgette flower with Catalonian Mató goat’s cheese”, don’t do these dishes justice, but each speciality is an act of artistry, meticulously composed to trick and tease the taste buds.

You’ll marvel at the chef’s playful talent for elevating even the simplest of ingredients. The humble leek, for example, is chopped, caramelised and marinated in a salty jus before these thick vegetable rondelles are lovingly arranged like dominos or tiny turrets on a perfectly formed disc of flaky pastry. An avant-garde Gaudí-inspired dish if ever there was one.

A dish from virens

For a casual taste of his green haute cuisine, sit at the bar and sample some starters with a kombucha cocktail. Alternatively, be adventurous and skip the à la carte in favour of the 12-course Green Experience tasting menu, which includes one fish and one meat dish. Be warned: you may have to loosen your waistband because these seemingly ‘light’ bites are in fact richly rendered and irresistibly moreish.

Good luck resisting the kitchen’s home-baked sourdough served with a enticing assortment of creamy butters including one infused with wasabi.

High above the city

The Almanac Barcelona has a small basement gym and spa, but it’s crowning glory is its rooftop terrace complete with a bijou pool – not long enough for laps but a welcome addition in the summer months. The Azimuth terraced cocktail bar is a big hit with both hotel guests and locals, who flock here on summer weekends to enjoy live music and DJ sets.

The west side of the terrace offers Instagram-worthy views of the Sagrada Família, although the seating arrangements are immaterial with a sunset that has such a spectacular cocooning effect.

The rooftop at the Almanac Barcelona

There’s a restaurant here too, with both indoor and al fresco dining, serving Spanish-Mexican dishes with a pan-Asian twist. Specialities include grilled octopus with Peruvian huacatay salsa, Yucatán-style slow-roasted pork and tangy vegetable tacos, as well as classics such as organic Iberian ham and patates braves.

The Almanac rooftop pool

The little extra

Try the hotel’s own brand of cava, produced in a local vineyard called Torelló, home to winegrowers since the 14th century.

If you’ve booked a late flight home, the hotel will give you access to a private shower room long after check-out, so you are fresh on arrival.

Almanac Barcelona’s Foodie Package starts from €2,040 for two people, based on two nights in an Almanac Room. Services subject to availability and date confirmation.

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