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Bucket List / Budget List: Barcelona

Unique architecture, a vibrant foodie scene, beachfront buzz and plenty of nightlife – there’s something for every traveller – and wallet – in Barcelona.

Best for Luxury

The city is known for its thriving music scene, being home to world-class festivals Primavera Sound and Sónar. The line-up for the latter is arguably reason enough to come to Barcelona: De La Soul, DJ Shadow, Little Dragon and Justice are just some of the big names playing at the three-day extravaganza (tickets from €54 for a day pass).

Before you join the revellers, how about a drink to kick things off? Head to Tandem, an intimate little cocktail bar in the Eixample neighbourhood. Pull up a seat at the dark wood bar (polished to perfection) and watch as sharply dressed bartenders do their magic. Ours is a gin fizz, thanks.

Once you’ve had your fill of culture, eat, drink and lay down your head at one of the city’s hottest new hotel openings. Here are our top picks…

The Wittmore - for old world glamour

Hidden away down a narrow alley in the heart of the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), The Wittmore has a secluded, speakeasy vibe. That’s partly down to the fact it’s also a members’ club – think wood panelling, library shelves, plush, button-back club chairs and moody lighting. It’s not what you’d necessarily expect from Barcelona, until you get to the walled courtyard garden and fabulous roof terrace, complete with stripy loungers and a plunge pool to cool off in – just the place for a sangria or two at sundown.

Room Mate Gerard – for modern luxury

It would be hard not to feel like a movie star checking into Room Mate Gerard – this dark and handsome hotel is as slick as they come. It’s only a stone’s throw away from the traditional Gothic Quarter, not that you’d guess from the interior: moody greys, glistening metallics and expensive lighting are found at every turn. Our favourite feature? It has to be the black-tiled and brass-detailed bathrooms.

Catalonia Magdalenes - for perfect pampering

First, let’s talk about the roof terrace. Plenty of space, killer views of Barcelona Cathedral and a glass (yes, really) plunge pool make it hard for any guest to tear themselves away. And then there’s the spa: bijou but perfectly formed, this subterranean retreat has a hot tub and hammam for post-party blissing out.

Best for Budget

No self-respecting foodie should come to Barcelona without experiencing Mercat de la Boqueria, the city’s most famous food market. Lose yourself among the stalls packed with epicurean delights and soak up the atmosphere and tantalising smells and sights from a counter top where you feast like a king for a few Euros. Just make sure you arrive hungry.

Once you’ve sampled the market’s delights, walk it off and discover the city’s famous street art with a Barcelona Street Style Tour, which winds through several of the city’s most vibrant districts (free, donations accepted).

Time for a siesta. Check into one of these wallet-friendly hotels…

Hotel Margot House – for Scandi simplicity

What do you get if you cross Scandi furniture, Japanese minimalism and Margot Tenenbaum, the fabulously chic, blonde-bobbed character from Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums? The answer is Margot House, a low-key home-from-home on Barcelona’s prestigious Passeig de Gràcia. Named after the aforementioned movie heroine (played by Gwyneth Paltrow), the hotel’s restful palette and effortless, airy interiors are a welcome oasis from the bustling city outside. Make use of the hotel’s Brompton Bicycle hire scheme to explore the streets on wheels – we’re certain Margot would approve.

La Casa de Antonio Boutique – for laid-back grandeur

Housed in a renovated turn-of-the-century townhouse, La Casa de Antonio Boutique ticks all the boxes for interiors obsessives and serial Instagrammers alike: patterned tiled floors, copper lighting, statement headboards, the list goes on… Located near the city’s university, it’s an ideal spot for those looking to avoid the tourist hotspots and live like a local – if only for a few days.

Ecozentric – for eco-friendly meets urban

Environmental friendliness doesn’t come at the expense of style and a few luxuries at Ecozentric. Yes, it’s equipped with the latest energy-efficient mod-cons, but there’s also beautiful tiled floors, organic cotton sheets and organic lavender toiletries in the rooms. Four-person rooms are also available if you’re travelling with family or friends.