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Hotel España, Barcelona 

9–11 Carrer San Pau
Spain 08001
Tel: 34 93 550 0000
view web site ›'s insider take:

The Hotel España, a star at the turn of the 19th century, was given some much-needed care and attention in late 2010. Now the property's gloriously detailed interiors (originally designed by the Modernista movement's foremost architect, Domènech i Montaner) have some dramatic contemporary touches, too, such as geometric hanging lights and bold-colored feature walls. The velvet-swathed guest rooms with wooden accents are on the smalll side (some standards ring in at only 50 square feet), yet it's the breathtaking public spaces that really shine. Admire the dining room's frescoes of dainty watery nymphs as you tuck into breakfast. Or take a seat at the curvaceous alabaster fireplace as you sip a nightcap in the Bar Arnau. Top Basque chef Martín Berasategui has taken the reigns of Fonda España, the hotel's restaurant, where you can experience his robust cuisine (veal cheek with Priorat wine reduction, or tuna with tomato jam and arugula chips) surrounded by intricately carved wood and glorious ceramic murals.—Suzanne Wales

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