From Cava sangria in rooftop pools to UNESCO heritage sites and Gaudi Instagram opportunities aplenty...
Amidst the Instagram holiday fads, there’s one european country that has always been a constant on our social media feeds, Spain.
From poolside sangria boomerangs and photos of tanned, sandy manicured feet on the coast to cool cultural city break shots, there’s something for everyone in the Mediterranean hotspot – and with sunshine and quality food, it’s hardly surprising that it’s getting all the Instagram love.
All the influencers have been doing it from the beginning of social media – and reaping the rewards, so I boarded a two hour flight (yes, just two hours) and flew over a thousand miles to the land of Flamenco and tapas to see what the fuss was about.
The verdict? A triple shot of on-trend quality food, Spanish culture and a lot of luxury lounging. We’re talking Cava in rooftop city pools, UNESCO heritage sites and enough Gaudi Instagram opportunities to last a lifetime.
I started my Spanish adventure in Barcelona, home to Catalonian architect Antoni Gaudi, before flying on to the infamous island of Ibiza for a big hit of luxury.
But with 72 hours to fill and two cities to co-ordinate, where should I stay? I went with OD Hotels – Barcelona and Talamanca.
While there are OD hotels in quite a few Spanish cities, each hotel has a different vibe depending on its location, from Barcelona’s cool efficient offering in the hustle and bustle of the Catalonian capital to Ibiza’s luxury marine beachside theme.
The OD DNA? Modern luxury in central iconic locations, mixing contemporary Scandi decor with state of the arts technology and five star gastronomy. Oh, and did I mention the eco-friendly ethos, with vertical gardens, solar panels, and an HVAC system which reduces energy consumption by 35%? All of this for an affordable price – I was sold.
The OD rooms provide everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay, but the suites are stunning – private pools, panoramic rooftop views and complimentary smart cars to take around the city at your leisure. They’re a bit pricier, but for a city honeymoon or luxury escape, it’s well worth it.
Barcelona was my go-to for a top quality foodie experience – something that I got on my very first morning, tucking into OD’s Pan Con Tomate (Spanish-style tomato on toast). Make the most of it while you’re there – take it from this writer’s experience, no matter how hard you try you won’t be able to recreate it at home.
The city boasts plenty of top quality restaurants, but it’s the street food and markets that are Barcelona’s real gem. Stop by La Boquería Market for some fresh seafood and €1 fruit smoothies in every shade imaginable, or to load up on ingredients to cook your own fresh feast.
But culture-wise, you just need to stroll through Barcelona to get your dose of history – not to mention an album of Insta-worthy city shots, and it’s all thanks to Antoni Gaudi.
The 130-year-old Casa Vicens is an obligatory stop, the first house designed by the Catalan architect (located on Gracia on Career de les Carolinas), and La Sagrada Familia is just a short walk from the hotel, with the magnificent unfinished Roman Catholic Church being one of Spain’s top attractions.
But even if you don’t have the time to seek it out on purpose, you’ll hardly be able to move around the city without bumping into his eccentric architecture. Look out for Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, and stop by Park Güell (on Carrer Nou de la Rambla) – Instagram opportunities don’t get much better.
Then for a shot of luxury it was onto Ibiza – a 45 minute plane ride away – something I had preconceived ideas about after overdosing on reality shows of drunken teens frequenting the island.
Strangely however, it was Ibiza that gave me the biggest cultural and gastronomic surprise – who knew the other side of the island could be so different?
Pristine Santorini-esque interiors, moonlit beachside restaurants, luxury seafood and a long (and relatively unknown) history – I was sold on Ibiza from the get-go.
My OD room was located on the iconic Talamanca beach, close to the island’s most exclusive marinas, Ibiza old town, and cool on-trend restaurants.
My recommendation? Sa Punta, an alfresco fine-dining experience on the furthest point of Talamanca bay. The setting may be magnificent, especially at sunset – we’re talking fairy lit white canopies and ultra cool Ibiza beats – but nothing eclipses the food.
Focusing on the art of sharing, we teamed our Cava Sangrias with oysters and fresh Burratinas from Puglia, before tucking into Wild sea bass carpaccio, Alaskan black cod (the best I’ve had in my life) and red tuna ceviche.
But despite the high quality grub (I’m still thinking about that black cod), it was the Ibiza old town that I found the most impressive.
Dalt Villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering the complete polar opposite to what I had expected to find on the Spanish island – panoramic views, ancient stories and a deep history, spanning 2,500 years.
Go via the alternative entrance – Portal Nou (behind the Plaza del Parque) for a more gradual ascent and make sure you stop off at the nunnery to buy a €1 slice of cake from the nuns through a hatch in the wall.
From cool street style shots and chic boho interiors to the impressive buildings, the Instagram opportunities are endless – and just an afternoon at the heritage site will make your Insta feed look like an Anthopologie catalogue.
After just a couple of days in the Spanish hotspots, your Instagram account will be thriving, and you definitely won’t want to go home.
How to book:
You can book a room at any of the OD hotels via the OD website, with the standard room rates at OD Barcelona starting at £215 a night, and rates at Ibiza’s OD Talamanca starting at £328 a night.
C/ Aragó, 300 – 08009 Barcelona
Phone (+34) 93 215 08 99
C/ Jesús, 28, Playa Talamanca – 07800 Ibiza
Phone (+34) 971 31 19 12
And if you’ve caught the OD bug, you’re in luck as these are only two of the Spanish brand’s five hotels, boasting two more properties in Ibiza and another in Mallorca.
I stopped off via the other two Ibizan ODs to see what I was missing and while Ocean Drive served up one hell of a Mexican brunch, if I had my time again I’d stay at the brand’s boutique offering, Can Jaume – an Instagrammable Ibizan Manor house surrounded by orange trees, in the idyllic rural village of Puig d’en Valls, just 2 km from Ibiza town.
So wherever you are in the country, you should be able to find an OD, for great service, on-trend food, Instagrammable interiors and enviable panoramic views.
See you there.