Since hosting the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona has emerged as Spain’s superstar city, endowing the country with a riveting, culturally rich destination that rivals France’s Paris and England’s London. A month after recovering from America’s June pride festivities, the gay global greats congregate at Circuit Festival Barcelona - the biggest European Gay & Lesbian dance music event, attracting over 70,000 partygoers annually in August.
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Summer’s here, and that means three big things for the gay world - prides, parties, and more parties! Orlando Gay Days has already passed, but a slew of summer pride events are just beginning and the best is yet to come!
A month after recovering from America’s June pride festivities, the gay global greats congregate at
Circuit Festival Barcelona (www.circuitfestival.net) - the biggest European Gay & Lesbian dance music event, attracting over 70,000 partygoers annually. For the guys, the parties rage from Aug 2 to Aug 12 and for the ladies, Aug 7 to Aug. 13. But even if you can’t make it to Circuit Festival Barcelona, the city is a gay paradise all summer long. With the Euro nearing a seven-year low, now is the time to visit!
Since hosting the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona has emerged as Spain’s superstar city, endowing the country with a riveting, culturally rich destination that rivals France’s Paris and England’s London. In twenty short years, the city has evolved from the sleepy capital of Catalonia to one of the globe’s greatest metropolises with all the trappings of a highly sophisticated, fabulous Euro-zone.
As millions of tourists flock Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, and the surfeit of Gaudi architectural landmarks, more sagacious jetsetters pair libations with panoramas at the city’s modernist rooftop terraces, sample the latest trends in gastronomy and mixology at Michelin-starred restaurants, and venture on side trips to the scores of hidden treasures waiting beyond the city limits. Below is the first part of your travel guide to Europe’s hottest city!
If traveling specifically for Circuit Festival Barcelona, it makes sense to stay in the host hotel – the
NH Calderón (http://www.nh-hoteles.es/). The hotel is pretty basic compared to Barcelona’s avant garde masterpieces; but let’s face it, the point of the Circuit Festival is not to stay in the city’s top hotels!
Those visiting AT other times throughout the year will want to crash at the centrally located, sleek and stylish
Mandarin Oriental Barcelona (http://www.mandarinoriental.com/barcelona/), which dominates almost a city-block of the of boutique-lined Passeig de Gràcia, near Gaudi’s Casa Batlló masterpiece. Set in a former bank and reinvented as the thoroughfare’s most coveted hotel, the Mandarin unleashes a love affair between minimalism with haute modernism. Beyond designer Patricia Urquiola’s vision of dreamy white, understated elegance in the guest suites, the sexy catwalk entry, the glass-capped, living-room style atrium, the lush Mimosa Garden courtyard and rooftop splash pool impress the most pickiest jetsetters. The hotel’s stanch success over two short years has even spawned an expansion into neighboring buildings.
Barcelona regulars will also want to consider a blissful experience at the
Hotel Arts Barcelona (www.hotelartsbarcelona.com, featured in next week’s column) as well as the
ME Barcelona (http://www.me-barcelona.com/), the pinnacle of the city’s evolving modernism and a perennial gay favorite.
Reaching for the Skies
The rooftop craze that forever changed the hotel landscapes of L.A., NY, Bangkok and South Beach has officially landed in Barcelona. Countless hotels recently revealed bespoke incarnations of high-in-the-sky magic, offering birds-eye views of the city and coast within personality-driven lounges. True to its namesake, 360 degrees at the
Barcelo Raval offers spectacular views of Barcelona’s landmarks, Montjuic Mountain, and the city’s surrounding beaches. Come sunset, watch Barcelona change from its historic daytime to pulsating, glowing nighttime personality, cocktail in hand. Along the shoreline of Barceloneta, the Eclipse Bar at the
W Barcelona (w-barcelona.com/eclipse-bar) grants eye-popping views from its 26th floor jetsetting lounge. Better year,
The Six Senses Spa at neighboring Hotel Arts Barcelona (hotelartsbarcelona.com) has spa-lovers soaking in the scene - literally - 40 floors high in view-heavy hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas.
Crazy For Tapas
For a different take on experiencing Barcelona’s varied tapas scene, novices and pros alike rave about the guided
Barcelona Tapas Tour (bcnshop.barcelonaturisme.com). Over three hours, local experts divulge insidery knowledge, flag tourist traps, and offer fascinating lessons in the city’s culinary history while leading guests through the Boqueria Market, Las Ramblas and Gothic Quarter and into the tables of the city’s top tascas.
For the latest and greatest in the world of tapas, you’ll need to plan way ahead to land a table at
Tickets (ticketsbar.es), arguably clocking the longest waiting times in the world. Bursting with personality, this modern creative tapas restaurant is a gastronomic tour de force, showcasing a marriage of robust flavors and ingenuity that the world can’t get enough of! (Think: Tuna belly with salmon roe, piparra sauce and green apple air bread).
For a pre-dinner, sweet afternoon indulge in Barcelona’s best mató, a traditional Catalan desert of soft cheese, honey and walnuts at the classic
Granja Viader (granjaviader.cat) circa 1870. Alternatively, chocolate lovers should head to the xocolateria
La Dulcinea in the Gothic Quarter for the best suizo (hot chocolate with whipped cream) and chocolate filled churros in town.
Next week: Eating Out, Beyond Barcelona, Hotel Arts Barcelona, and Barcelona’s Top Gay hotspots.