Because Iberostar is a Spanish hotelier with a new property in what is arguably Spain's hottest destination, my expectations were high during a recent hosted stay at the Iberostar Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona.
The 119-room hotel is not only the company's first Barcelona property, it's also part of an expansion strategy by Iberostar — best known among Americans for its all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico — that focuses on hotels in urban areas.
With moderate midday traffic on a Thursday, it was about a 20-minute cab ride from the airport to the hotel, which opened at the beginning of the year. Given its newness, I wasn't surprised that my driver didn't seem entirely familiar with the hotel. I needn't have worried; one can simply ask to be taken to the Plaza de Catalunya and look for the building with the Iberostar logo looming high above. (Another tip for directions: The hotel shares a block with the city's sole Apple Store.)
The neo-Baroque building, which was built in 1942, once was home to the Hotel Colon and housed a bank for a time before Iberostar took over. Some loan officer must have enjoyed a pretty fantastic view of the Plaza de Catalunya, as I did from my fourth-floor standard room. (The hotel's Tower Suite, which my group visited during a property tour, goes further, offering panoramic city views.)
My accommodations were exceedingly modern, with plentiful electrical outlets; robust, complimentary WiFi; and a flat-screen TV stealthily hidden behind the mirror facing the exceptionally comfortable bed. And on the subject of slumber, my room proved surprisingly quiet despite the hotel's location in a high-traffic neighborhood.
Amenities such as complimentary drinking water and toiletries reflected Iberostar's Wave of Change sustainability initiative: dispensers for shampoo, conditioner and bath gel were refillable, and the company eschews disposable plastic bottles for glass. Iberostar aims to eliminate all single-use plastics at its properties by next year.
The hotel's rooftop bar and pool area boasts stunning views of the skyline, and its Ca's Menestral restaurant features Mallorcan seafood and international dishes for lunch and dinner (and offers an extensive buffet and cooked-to-order eggs for breakfast).
But of course, the hotel's location along the Paseo de Gracia means it's convenient to a variety of great eats mere steps away along that road as well as the parallel Rambla de Catalunya. About a 15-minute walk up the latter is the wildly popular Cerveseria Catalana, where one night we feasted on classic tapas like Iberian ham, grilled octopus and patatas bravas (home fries with aioli and a spicy tomato sauce). Closer still was Cachitas, where a decadent lobster paella proved to be another night's culinary highlight.
Heading in the other direction for about 15 minutes leads to the city's Gothic Quarter, where raucous nightlife awaits in the wee hours. Don't test the patience of the neighborhood's residents, who've been known to pelt high-volume revelers with eggs.
Fortunately, I have no firsthand accounts of this; after a day of sightseeing, sampling the city's cuisine and perhaps a nightcap or two, I was always happy to retreat to the convenience and calm of the Iberostar Paseo de Gracia.
Nightly rates begin at about $170 for standard rooms; Tower Suite rates begin at about $750. See www.iberostar.com.