Kevin Pilley recently stayed at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, and has nothing but glowing reviews for the 5* hotel & 2* Michelin Restaurant, Enoteca Paco Pérez, where the hustle & bustle of Spain's capital meets the tranquility & peacefulness of the sea.
Tipping is always tricky. Discretionary is hard too. No one wants to tip too much or too little. What do you leave for the charming waitress at a two-star Michelin restaurant, or the devoted bodyguard that helps keep pigeons from stealing your food?
Harry is the hotel’s hawk-in-residence. Working as a security guard, he is (of course) employed by one of the most luxurious hotels in the world to guard its guests against the local pigeon community. His job (albeit an extremely important one) is to protect you, and your food, from the locals stealing the blinis off your plate, dipping their beaks into your quince jam, pecking at your Iberian loin, mobbing your matured manchego and making off with your croissant, raisin roll or other bollería pastries.
Breakfast is also served inside at the safer although a little vertiginous Club Lounge forty floors above. Exclusive access is reserved to high fliers, enjoying the good life in the $2000-a-night penthouse suites and superior deluxe rooms with a, “tailored menu of exclusive benefits”. On the rooftop is a spa with a sauna/steam room boasting arguably one of the best views in the world.
Enoteca Paco Pérez
The Hotel Arts also is home to the iconic two star MichelinEnoteca Paco Pérez (located in Spain’s tallest building on the sea). You can’t possibly pass up the privilege of being cooked for by a veteran Michelin-starred masterchef and be served by a waitress whose father is China’s top international football goal scorer, scoring 41 times in 107 games, (and coming on once as substitute for Sheffield United in the FA Cup match against Colchester United). When in Barcelona eh...
However, it truly was a wonderful gourmet experience. Presenting their menus in black envelopes, your first touch is bliss because you sense the bliss inside. Your heart races, your mouth waters and your ganglia tingle as you slit the envelope open as you become conscious of your capacity for mastication. As my finger slid across the top of envelope, I began to tremble and swoon simultaneously as I peered to see the white card inside. My forehead beaded as my tongue lolled. Slowly and respectfully (as I salivated uncontrollably), I withdrew the 198 Euro tasting menu degustation... one sybaritic course at a time.
And then the ever-smiling sommelier is there beside you to spoil your palate even more, with his vinous recommendations for each course and a 700 strong wine list to select from.
Our meal started with waitress Ricki Hao (the daughter of the previously mentioned most famous footballer in China, Hao Haidong) and her South American colleague appearing out of the beach chic all-white ambience to intimately describe each course, (the koji cured red mullet and sea cucumber fricando and stewed tendons will certainly make your eyes roll). Ten minutes later, our table was cleared by unseen hands, returning to recite an overture of dressed sea prawns and prepare us for the John Dory fish meuniere - honestly the waiting staff’s briefings are a pleasure in themselves.
Catalan chef Paco Perez (who holds in total five prestigious Michelin stars), took over at Enoteca in 2008, winning its first star two years later and its second in 2013. The Barcelona FC fan also helped to open central Manchester’s TAST: Cuina Catalana, co-owned by Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola.
In his younger years he trained under legendary chefs Ferran Adria, and father of nouvelle cuisine, Michel Guèrard.
“What I learned from nouvelle cuisine was the respect for the product. The amount of procedures that can be behind a dish, the organisation and the discipline that there is behind each dish when you produce a culinary experience like nouvelle cuisine. Cooking is a very passionate world. Catalan cuisine is based on territory... So there is a combination of ingredients from the sea and the mountains together in one dish. I love my job and I try to share this feeling with my team and my guests. It’s important that the team loves what they do too, and that the customers are happy to enjoy the food and are open to a wonderfully memorable experience.” - Paco Perez
The Hotel Arts Barcelona
The Hotel Arts is home to over 500 pieces of original Spanish art, including works by Manolo Valdes, Luis Feito, Jose Manuel Broto and Perico Pastor.
However, one could argue that other resident 'artists' are the mixologists at the hotel’s Coctelarium, but also the staff in general at the Arts. From the gracious limo airport transfer drivers, Alejandro and Josef, to Letitia and the penthouse butler team - everyone is versed in the art of hospitality.
The butlers and concierge are on hand 24/7 to rush you or a loved one to emergency cuticle care, send up a citrus body souffle to your room any time of day, change the flowers when you get tired of them and provide a scalp and neck massage at 3am. Every need is met as staff are genuinely and personally happy to oblige if, exhausted from the sunbathing by the two pools & incapable of lifting up the coffee table books in your suite, you asked if they could read to you rom classics like “Symbolic Maps and Engravings of Istanbul”, or “Saul Bas : A Life”.
But the A-list stars of the Arts are the room views. One side faces the Platja del Somorrostro and Platyja de Nova Icaria beaches and the other peers over all the major landmarks of Barcelona. From your room you will see Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished 1926 Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, Agbar Tower, Tibidabo Hill and Church, Parc de la Ciutadella, the Gothic Estacio de Franca railway station, the MNAC National Art Museum , Montjuic Castle and Lighthouse and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia.
The only thing missing is the Camp Nou, home of Barcelona FC. So you’ll have to leave the hotel once - but you don’t have to exert much energy or even go too far. The open-top city tour bus stops just outside, and the limos are even closer.
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