In February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic took over our lives, I was fortunate to squeeze in a stay at Nobu Barcelona, the newest addition to the Barcelona luxury hotels. While I only stayed at Nobu for one night, I fell in love with the hotel’s design, spacious rooms, and the views. My God, the views! Oh yes, and who can forget about the world-famous Nobu restaurant. Nobu Barcelona features in my top ten list of best luxury hotels in Barcelona.
Nobu Barcelona, opened in the Fall of 2019, took over a not-so-luxurious former Gran Hotel Torre Catalunya hotel known for its magnificent views. While the facade of the building remains unassuming, Nobu Hotels transformed the interior into an upmarket affair worthy of the Nobu name and esthetic. In the short time it has been opened, it has established itself as one of Barcelona’s best hotels and the place for locals to be seen and celebrate a special occasion. We hear Messi and Shakira are already counted as fans.
VIBE AND DESIGN
One could write an essay just on the inspiration and the details behind the hotel’s design. I will try to encapsulate it in a couple of paragraphs. You will just have to visit to fully experience the incredible range of artistic expression at Nobu Barcelona.
Designed by the famous American architect and designer, David Rockwell, the Barcelona outpost is a perfect fusion of Japanese minimalist simplicity and colorful character of Barcelonian craft, capturing the unique essence of Barcelona. In a nod to Gaudi, the hotel is full of stunning pieces made of broken mosaics. Those pieces, however, are also Japanese to the core – made in the mold of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending broken areas with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The stunning artwork above the beds in all of the Deluxe, Premium, and Zen Junior suites is, in turn, inspired by trencadis (broken tile mosaics) and sumi-e (Japanese ink painting).
Rockwell used Spanish and international artists’ artwork to create collages of materials, textures, and colors throughout the hotel. When wandering around the hotel, you will be able to admire Tim Ralston’s bold paintings that connect us to the landscape. Upon closer inspection, you notice the artist lets the paint drip and run in part of his works reminiscent of a technique used by Joan Miro. You will walk on rugs created by Nanimarquina, a Barcelonian company, whose motto is “A rug is a house in the desert.” The company is known for its diversity of themes and experimentation with textures, materials, and shapes. The resulting one-of-a-kind rugs Nanimarquina rugs are not just carpets but pieces of art. The bold wallpaper comes from Elitis Wallpaper, the leading wallpaper company for known innovative designs. Their motto is “dare to be bold and innovate,” which they certainly do with the wallpaper at Nobu Barcelona. You will also notice bold brass pieces by Bolibar in the Nobu restaurant on the 23rd floor, paper lamps by Arturo Alvarez, and innovative lamps by Valencia-based Grantlamp.
This unique art collaboration manages to create a luxury lifestyle experience with a genuine Catalan feel.
BED AND BATH
Nobu Barcelona has 259 rooms, 43 of which are suites. There are a total of nine room types offering either city or skyline views, with some with the most insane view of Sagrada Familia and the Mediterranean. You can opt between the deluxe, premium, junior suite, Sake or Umi suite, and the stunning Nobu Suite, the hotel’s equivalent of the presidential.
All of the rooms feature a 65″ inch TVs you can connect to your phone, fantastic rain showers with beauty products from the Barcelona based Natura Blissé brand, a minibar stocked with classic Japanese favorites like Matcha Kit Kats and Sake, and one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in. The standard rooms vary in size from 25 m² / 270 ft² (Deluxe City Room) to 37 m² / 400 ft² (Premium Rooms), and the Suites range from 45 m² / 485 ft² for a Junior Suite to 62 m² / 668 ft² for the Sake and Umi Suites.
There is no bad room at Nobu Barcelona but my favorite and the recommended room category is the Sake Suite. These are corner units located on the top floors of the 23 floor building and have unparalled views of the city, including the famous Sagrada Familia. They also have wooden Japanese soaking baths with the same amazing views. Just imagine taking a bath while looking at the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral. The Sake (and other suites) also have yoga mats, steamers and hair straighteners (thinking of the ladies finally). The yoga mats are there to encourage you to follow in the footsteps of Nobu-san, who attributes his youthfulness at 70 to his daily yoga practice.
SPA AND GYM
The hotel’s underground Spa and gym were not opened when I visited, and I did not get the chance to see it. I hear that both the large Technogym fitness space and the Spa were completed right before the pandemic started. Nobu Barcelona will launch both as the hotel reopens post-COVID-19 and is allowed to operate the Spa. There is a plunge pool and a whirlpool in the Spa. The hotel does not have an outdoor pool.
RESTAURANTS + BARS
At the time of my visit in February, two of the three dining outlets were open – Nobu Restaurant on the 23rd floor as well as the Lobby and Nobu Sake Bar at Kozara in the lobby level. Between these two outposts, Nobu Barcelona has the biggest selection of sake and whiskeys in town.
The hotel is also planning on opening the Nobu Cafe, also in the lobby level, as a more relaxed and casual dining option. The hotel is currently sourcing partners interested in joining forces and is expecting to open the Nobu Cafe in the next 6 months. I personally hope the hotel will partner with the Barcelona based Sans & Sans tea company as their teas are delicious.
Barcelona FC match goers, foodies, families, city breakers, or all four.
The unsightly concrete Plaça dels Països Catalans may surprise you as the location for the glamorous Nobu Hotels brand. Yet, the undiscovered (for now) neighborhood of Sants delights with local restaurants and unhurried vibe emblematic of the Spanish culture. Here, you will forget about the droves of tourists in Barrio Gothic and enjoy a taste of life as a local. At the same time, the hotel is a mere 10-minute walk from Montjuic (home to the Miró Foundation and National Museum of Catalan Art.), 30-minute walk from buzzy La Rambla, and a stone’s throw away from the trendy Eixampla district.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Barcelona is a year-round destination with the highest number of visitors in the Summer months. I recommend visiting during the off-season months to truly enjoy the city and its sights. I recently visited in January and found the weather to be remarkably warm.