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Friday, October 2, 2009

Barcelona a La LUXE

I can't believe I never heard of the LUXE Guides before!!! “The world’s coolest guidebook publisher” according to The Times (UK) teamed up with local residents in the coolest and hippest towns around the world to create the cutest, smartest and funniest guidebooks. Who better than a local to show you around the best places in town, right? Their website definately worth a visit too!

They claim: There simply wasn’t anything out there for smart, solvent people who knew the value of money and didn’t want to waste it, but who were as happy to splash for the good stuff as sit in a tumbledown shack on the river if the food were good enough and adventure was on the menu. So what can we say? The LUXE reader is busy, money-smart and value-minded, discerning, frivolous, adventurous and above all, fun. Yes, but the LUXE reader is also 65 and wearing Bionda Castanas, or 25 and wearing vintage Tommy Nutter. There’s no age limit to style or the luxe2enjoyment of life – you just need to want the best. Oh, and love shopping.  And spa.  And…

What’s in it for us? when we arrive in a city we look solely for the things we totally love (and think you will too) and we ditch the rest. We leave the mediocre, touristic blah to the other guides and go straight for the good stuff – and that doesn’t mean the most expensive, on the contrary, it can be a dollar or a hundred dollars. What’s important is that it has to be the best of what it is; the best salad, the best budget boutique hotel, the best mom & pop trattoria, the best handmade shoes, the best fine diner, the best walk in the park.

Just my kind of thing if you ask me! And I adore the glamorous book cover illustrations!!! Their box sets are to die for! You can choose from the Luxe European, Asian or World Box edition or you can customize and create your own box! Fabulous gift idea for Xmas! (The Luxe European Box is 75 USD and you can order it online at their site, the Barcelona Luxe Guide is only 9,99 USD :))

I’m ordering their Barcelona guide ASAP! But before I thought I give you a glimpse into their recommendations. I love their style, so cool, so young, so fresh, centuries away from the usual guidebook boredomness. Ana Montiel, a very talented Barcelona based pattern designer  is one of the resident BCN editors, check out her weblog!

Curious what they recommend in BCN? Hahaha…. I thought this could be very useful for visitors and maybe gives some new ideas to residents alike... so here it comes!

The below text is coming directly from


From the Romans and Moors to today’s global traveller, the world, it seems, can’t get enough of Barcelona. And not surprisingly, seeing as 10% of the city is given over to parks, this blue-skied bombshell puts the si in sister and the oh in brother with more razzle-dazzle than a De Beers heiress. From her glittering Mediterranean sea, stunning museums and architectural marvels (ever heard of Gaudí?) to her culinary fireworks and sparkling wines, Barcelona is a non-stop degustation of the best in Spanish life. She’s beautiful, she’s mysterious, she’s wanton and she’s waiting... Gato got your tongue?

LUXE Barcelona. Put a party in your pocket.

Blah Blah Blah
    • Balmy, perfect autumn and spring, winter is crisp and the sun shines year round, but avoid Aug, the place shuts down, the locals flee and the world descends.
    • Catalan is the language of choice in Barcelona, but everyone speaks Spanish, though less so English.
    • El Prat airport - city centre by cab: 30 mins / 30 Euros.
    • The best way to explore the old city is on foot or by bicycle. Beyond that, the metro and bus is efficient, and taxis are affordable and plentiful.
    • Save time and money, get a T-10 card at the Metro station.
    • Shop hours are approx. 10am-1.30pm and 4.30-7.30pm, Mon-Fri, and Sat am, give or take an hour. Even restos shut on Sun, so head to the beach, park, museum or bar.
    • Lunch at 2pm, then siesta, have a merienda (snack) at 7pm, sup at 9pm, then party after. It’s no wonder the Sagrada Familia is still 50 years away from completion.
    • Avoid La Rambla like you would a date with Franco. He’s gone? Shame the ugly hordes here haven’t.
    • Don’t confuse the divinely florid, art nouveau folly of modernisme/modernista architecture with the later, rational and functional modernist style.
      It’s all in the detail, so look closely at everything from doors and knobs, to balconies and lamp posts.
    • Don’t ask for a cerveza, ask for a caña. Avoid sangria with your meal and sip regional wines or cava instead.
    • Tipping is not required, though a few euros is nice.
    • Reservations are essential at most restaurants.
    • If paying by credit card, have photo ID handy.
    • Beware of pickpockets and watch your bag, especially in a crowd; the rogues aren’t dangerous, just fast.
    • Football is a religion and FC Barcelona the god.
    • The intl dialling code for Spain is +34; most local calls have a 93 prefix, which must always be dialled, and most mobiles begin with 6.
    • In emergencies, call 112 or police 088.  

Some handy Catalan phrases to get you going... 

Bon dia / Adéu : Good morning / Goodbye
Si us plau / moltes gràcies (or mercès) : Please / Thank you
No parlo català : It’s all rhubarb to me. 


Befitting its party atmos and fun-loving outlook on life, Barcelona is a 66cracker for schmick places to stay, and as we do wtih all cities we cover, we've gone out of our way to find the best style for dollar options so you always feel comfy and you never feel room-raped. Oh we do love to be beside the seaside, and especially when it’s at the Hotel Arts, it’s one seriously jetset eurogenous zone with bright, sandy-hued pana-roomas, sporting B&O, WiFi and a sublime Six Senses Spa. Pack every shred of seriously sexy clothing you have and don't skimp on the body tan, Tonya. For something a little more discreet, try beaut little boutique Hotel Pulitzer with its choc and cream theme, breakfast conservatory and fab rooftop terrace – splash on the suite with its own 30sqm sun terrace, canopied bed, and Jacuzzi bath, for sudsy fun.

Wine & Dine

Fasten your seatbelts for this Spanish gourmand Grand Prix, but bear in mind in Barcelona, noon lunches and 7pm suppers brand you as a total tourist, if you can find somewhere open, that is. Be sure to re-set your body clock and keep a couple of snacks handy for emergency nibbles. For cutting-edge Modern Catalan book ahead for the ‘in’ crowd’s fave, Moo. The Roca brothers’ high design gastrodome with its glassed-in garden patio is always pumping with fierce diners and a big helping of attitude on the menu. When you don't feel like frocking it, we're loving private kitchen Tapioles 53, this old brolly workshop cum studio cum after hours home kitchen with its knockout garden-fresh Mediterranean menu is always a pleasure, or for something relaxed, we’re loving Bar Pinotxo, an absolutely no–frills elbow to nip counter smack bang in the middle of the Boquería market for the day’s freshest seafood. Note: you have as much hope of keeping your figure in Barcelona as the Sagrada Familia being finished! Ah well, eat today, slim tomorrow…


The shopping hours of many of Europe’s major cities is a total mystery to the rest of the world, and Barcelona manages to keep the side up with most stores closed on Sunday, as well as each day between 1.30-4.30pm – so plan your daily therapy into two stealth-shop blocks of three hours, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We've put together seven spot-on, by-the-hand shopping itins that lead you through the intoxictaing streets and alleys to all the city's best shopportunities, plus whole sections devoted to Gourmet and Advanced Shopping for all those fabby custom and bespoke options we love so much. The home of Camper has an exceptionally healthy retail scene and you’re going to need nerves of steel to resist temptation at stores like the addictive Vinçon – an entire landmark block of everything for the modern design family, from cutlery to cupboards, and beds to gardening gear. Elsewhere, make a beeline for Natalie Capell’s utterly divine gothic meets 20s lace and silk dresses that will take you down the aisle or up the red carpet in high style, and where would you be without Cristina Castañer, the queen of espadrilles? Barcelona is famed for its delis and gourmet stores and the epicure’s deli Semon is ground zero for just about everything from the finest Jamon Ibérico to caviar. But check to make sure your home country allows you to import foodstuffs, you don’t want to be apprehended in possession of an armed and dangerous chorizo.


If you’re planning on seeing the major art centres in Barcelona, get yourself an Articket - a snip at 20 euros, it gets you into a slew of lovelies and of course helps you to jump the queues. Yay! You will of course be using it to get into Museu Picasso for its amazing collection of the master’s work housed in a series of medieval blocks – totally unmissable. Be sure also to take in the delightful Museu Frederic Marès hidden away in the old city. This huge collection of medieval and religious sculptures also boasts one of the prettiest courtyard cafés in town, which is perfect if you easily fall prey to galleria tremens. It’s well nigh impossible to come to this city and miss the work of modernist architect Antoni Gaudí, in particular the iconic Sagrada Família, but far and away the best way to view it is with a cold beer from the conveniently situated terrace of Copa Café. Salut!

LUXE City Guides. Beauty and brevity.


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