Spain's most beautiful, and best, hotel
It doesn’t do to gush when you’re writing reviews, it marks you out as easily pleased. Unfortunately, despite my very best efforts, I simply can’t think of anything bad to say about La Florida. This is, quite simply, the best hotel I’ve ever had the fortune to stay in.
Still, at least my praise is in good company. Most recently voted Best European Hotel in The Sunday Times Travel Awards, La Florida enjoys a near un-budgeable position atop most Spanish best-hotel lists, while its spa and restaurant enjoy similar unimpeachable reputations.
Situated six kilometres outside Barcelona, La Florida has spectacular views across the city and is the perfect place to unwind after a day pounding the Gaudi-enhanced pavements.
Don’t be put off by the distance if it’s the city itself you’ve come to visit – a free minibus will drop you off and pick you up again later (although make sure you book in advance as it’s a popular option), however, make sure you keep aside time to enjoy the hotel, too.
The indoor-outdoor pool is the place to start the day, a few lengths first thing means you can really enjoy the fresh orange juice and cava at breakfast, while the canopied terraces should be the next stop for a relaxing day in the sun.
It being my first trip to Barcelona – and with guide-book-happy parents in tow – we ensured all swimming/eating/relaxing was undertaken practically before the sun had risen, before spending hours getting sucked into the frenetic pace of Barcelona (and then almost an equal number of hours resting our feet in the Jacuzzi once we got back).
Thankfully there was, despite the numerous landmarks to be photographed grinning in front of, even time to jump in front of the honeymooning couples and try out a treatment in the Zen Zone spa – practically the only worthy excuse for missing the Park Guell I can think of.
Perhaps the best thing about this beautiful hotel, however, isn’t the spa, the view or the expansive rooms, but the remarkable un-snobby attitude of the staff.
We arrived in the tiniest, mud-covered Ford Ka (rented, I hasten to add, not driven all the way from London) and, rather than hide it away in the underground car park, they washed it off for us and left it parked out front alongside the Porches and Lamborghinis.
A ‘gran’ gesture, if ever there was one.
Details: Gran Hotel La Florida, Ctra Vallvidrera al Tibidabo 83-93, 08035 Barcelona, Spain (+34 93 259 30 00, www.hotellaflorida.com)