Never has the thought of leaving a hotel been such a wrench. I’m up on the 43rd-floor spa, soaking up the Mediterranean views from one of the open-air terraces, sipping citrus-infused water and sampling the hydrotherapy pools, saunas and steam rooms. My boys are equally happy down in our vast three-bedroom duplex apartment with their dad, using the telescopes to spot imaginary pirates out on the gleaming water and watching planes float down into the city – just as we did only a few hours back, pointing out our hotel with its iconic oversize fish sculpture with excitement.
And though in a previous life my husband and I were out checking out the Catalan capital’s famed bar and club scene by night, this time we’re very happy to crack open a bottle of wine and watch the lights of the city twinkle below us from our chic contemporary eyrie on the uppermost floors of the hotel. These are views to die for.
It’s May half term – the perfect time for a Barcelona city break with kids. The outdoor pool at the luxurious Hotel Arts is a little chilly, but the boys love warming up afterwards in the massive hot tub concealed in the lush gardens, sipping heavenly fruit smoothies from the pool bar, and playing on the beach right in front of the hotel.
Such luxury doesn’t come cheap, but personalised services for those staying in one of the apartments include complimentary use of a top-of-the-range Bugaboo stroller and even the loan of a sleek MINI Cooper Cabrio to explore the city, making it a proper splurge. Of course, there are less expensive options at the Arts – a Family Package available at the time of writing includes accommodation in an Executive Suite for two adults and two children and breakfast.
Dining is predictably top notch too – of the four restaurants, one Michelin-starred, the most child-friendly is the informal, colourful, all-day Bites, where the boys eat from a kids’ menu featuring grilled chicken, pizza, brownies and the like, and enjoy use of some drawing books. But all the eateries offer children’s dishes.
So do we venture out at all? Well, we have to – this is Barcelona after all, and not to do so would be insanity. We visit the zoo just a seven-minute stroll away, as well as the surrounding Parc de la Ciutadella with its boating lake, parrots, mammoth statue and other delights. We check out Barcelona Aquarium a 20-minute walk away, we do a chocolate workshop at the Museu de la Xocolata, and we go for a gander at the Sagrada Familia. We take the funicular up to Montjuic hill and the cable-car back down. We spend a day on the quirky rides at the Tibidabo amusement park looking down over the city.
And course we discover the beaches, together and alone – Barcelona seafront is fabulous for a morning run, not least when you know that your hotel doormen are standing by with complimentary bottles of ice-cold water to dispense to overheated guests. As with much of life, it's the little touches of thoughtfulness that really make the difference.
Read more about Barcelona family holidays and breaks.