Fernando Castillo, Concierge at Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona, shares his expert advice on the best places to eat, shop, drink in Spain’s cosmopolitan capital.
When friends are in town
I take them for a drink Old Fashioned, a small bar with just four tables. It’s always crowded. I like the cocktails – the Japanese Democracy [made with passionfruit, vodka, saké and bergamot] is extraordinarily good.
The restaurant that best shows off Barcelona is…
Can Culleretes, in a narrow alley near La Rambla. The restaurant has been in the same family for three generations. It does excellent, inexpensive, home-cooked Catalan food. If you want five-star, head to Ca l’Isidre. It really shows off our local cuisine.
The restaurant that’s a real hotspot for locals
La Dama is where the Catalan bourgeoisie used to go. It’s in a Modernist building – the architecture is amazing – and the cuisine and service are excellent.
The best tapas
The menu at Mont Bar is so innovative. I also go to La Flauta (Carrer d’Aribau 23; +34 933 23 70 38) with friends because it’s inexpensive. They don’t take bookings so you wait in line with a glass of wine. Everybody is happy!
For quality coffee
I like NØmad (Passatge de Sert 12; +34 628 56 62 35). The owner trained in London and returned to Barcelona to roast and brew the same high-quality specialty coffee he found there.
A great place for brunch
The Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona [a Leading Hotels of the World property] is marvellous – you have oysters, a ceviche and sushi selection and all the Moët & Chandon you want. Then dessert and cocktails. Brunch goes from 12.30pm to 4.30pm on Sundays.
The best food market in Barcelona
La Boqueria is where I go with my mother. Sometimes you’ll find a chef from a Michelin-starred restaurant waiting in line with you.
If you like flea markets
Head to Encants Barcelona, about 10 to 15 minutes from the city by taxi. Only locals go there and you can get souvenirs at a good price. For fashion, I go to… the Born area. It’s bohemian, with lots of small shops and new Catalan designers.
For vintage shopping
El Raval, west of La Rambla, used to be very dangerous and it’s still not very safe at night but during the day you can find a lot of vintage stores.
For a romantic experience
La Dolce Vitae rooftop bar at the Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona is a good start. The hotel offers the Romantic Experience, too, with a massage and roses in your room and a limousine tour of the city.
If it’s raining
Go for tapas and drinks. We also have interesting museums such as the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, the Museu Picasso and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. To see emerging artists, head to the street Carrer de Petritxol. The best daytrip out of Barcelona is… the Costa Brava. Salvador Dalí had a house near Cadaqués, a white village near the French border. Girona has a well-conserved Jewish quarter. And there are the medieval towns of Cardona and Olot.
The city’s best-kept secret
Monvínic, a wine bar and restaurant with 3000 wines from around the world in the most amazing cellar.