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Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, Barcelona 

See the Barcelona Guide ›
38–40 Passeig de Gràcia
Spain 08007
Tel: 34 93 151 88 88
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The pearly queen of Barcelona luxury hotels, the Mandarin Oriental is situated in an early 20th-century bank building that's been completely remodeled by Patricia Urquiola, the Spanish designer known for melding elegance and playfulness. Here she has subtly nodded to the group's Asian origins with details such as chinoiserie-inspired feature walls with a blossom and bird mural. But there's also what Urquiola calls a "Grace Kelly" veneer, with a creamy-pastel color scheme and classic forms. The 98 guest rooms have a Zen-like ambience, with blond wood surfaces, chalk-white Silestone bathrooms, and natural textiles. Rear guest rooms (some with terraces) overlook the hotel's lovely mimosa-filled outdoor café, while front rooms offer the spectacle of posh Passeig de Gràcia. The Blanc lounge-restaurant on the ground floor of the towering atrium has a sumptuous hanging garden, handmade Japanese carpets, and modernist mamasan chairs; the whole lounge-restaurant is wrapped in a suspended snowflake-cutout screen the designer had dubbed "the birdcage." The Banker's Bar—in the bank's old vault—evokes a colonial men's club; Moments, a cutting-edge Catalan cuisine restaurant has a theatrical ceiling rendered in gold leaf.—Suzanne Wales

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
Located on the posh Passeig de Gràcia in the heart of Gaudí country (the neighborhood is dense with trippy buildings by the Catalán architect), the 98-room Mandarin Oriental is the city's first major luxury hotel since the 1992 Arts Hotel. To be sure, small stylish accommodations continue to open in Barcelona in droves, but this place is different—a grown-up, spit-and-polish beauty with intriguing decor by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, who nods at the Moorish legacy of light and shadow and screen partitions, but pokes these protocols with a straight-lined dose of twenty-first-century Zen. Arriving, you walk up a dramatic ramp that leads to an airy atrium cage of white-painted stamped steel, and this heady look continues in guest rooms, which are done up in a pale decor of sleek leather armchairs, oak parquet floors, and modern light fixtures. The standard doubles, though snug, are well-designed spaces that sling a lot of comfort. With one of the sexiest rooftop pools in the city, an excellent spa, and Moments, a superb Catalán comfort-food restaurant, this elegant mini grand hotel offers a lot of good reasons to skip Barcelona's rapidly dating nineties vintage waterfront. —2010 Hot List

Which room to book: Ask for an upper-floor, Passeig de Gràcia–facing room with a view of anything by Gaudí.

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Barcelona is an extraordinary city blessed with historic architecture, some of the finest food in Spain, streets of fashion and an endless stretch of sandy... more