Beyond expectations in Barcelona
Depending on your point of view, Abac Hotel’s location is either drawcard or drawback. It’s an inconvenient base for visiting Barcelona hotspots such as Barri Gotic and El Born but if, like me, you’re a fan of whimsical Catalan architecture and the great outdoors, you’ll have come to the right place.
The heart of the hotel is a century-old mansion that was built, like much of this elite residential pocket, by the Catalan pharmacist Salvador Andreu. Modernist mansions by avant-garde greats such as Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Joan Rubio i Bellver line Tibidabo Avenue, a boulevard in the Parisian style.
The walled estate of Abac Hotel stands at the head of the avenue flanked by lofty planes and La Tamarita parklands. Behind this oasis the wild slopes of the Collserola Mountains beckon with hiking and biking trails and an amusement park, also built by Dr Andreu.
His filmmaker daughter Dona Madronita lived here for many years and her former home theatre now serves up two-star Michelin fare to diners in Abac’s all-white garden restaurant. Chef Jordi Cruz’s degustation menus might include oysters with white asparagus and rehydrated tiger nuts, or sweet corn tacos with foie gras and mole ice cream. Guests are welcome to pop in to the kitchen during service for questions or photos, which seems only reasonable when the cheapest menu costs €140 ($195).
Also at or below ground level are a swish lounge bar with its original arches and chandelier, and a spa with plunge pool, hammam and Hermes body balms.
Abac’s 15 guestrooms and suites, two with expansive terraces, are cleverly configured across the upper levels of the old mansion and a starkly contemporary annexe known as the crystal pavilion. Interiors are pale, elegant, ethereal; textures are buttoned leather, marble and minky throws; minibar refreshments are DIY Billecart and white peach-nectar Bellinis, coffee machines, Alsatian beer and Xavier Mor chocolates (also the turndown treat).
It’s a cliche to rave about hotel beds but this time, trust me, it’s true. Climbing between Abac’s pure white linen and pillow-top mattress is like surrendering to the softest cuddle.
Technology is top-notch, from swipe-card security to faultless, fast Wi-Fi, Bang & Olufsen plasma TVs and, perhaps smartest of all, remote-controlled curtains and blinds. I leave mine open and wake in a sunlit woodland of plane trees, crepe myrtles and pines, my guestroom transformed into a glamorous treehouse. It doesn’t feel like Barcelona at all, but that’s not always a bad thing.
Kendall Hill was a guest of Mr & Mrs Smith.
Abac Hotel’s alfresco dining area, swish lounge bar and an elegant guestroom