Hotel DO: Placa Reial

Gothic Quarter, Barcelona, Spain Book from Eur175

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
A perfect boutique hotel: stylish and romantic rooms, creative and delicious gastronomic food & a small spa
When word gets out, Hotel DO will go stratospheric on the Barcelona hotel scene; we'd happily bet on it. In a city that's full of wonderful boutique hotels it still stood out as something special to us, but when we visited in November 2012, a year after opening, it still felt like a hidden gem. We suspect this is down to its location. On the one hand, it's perfectly placed - just off Las Ramblas and an easy stroll from the Barri Gòtic's sights. On the other hand, it's in a once-seedy area, whose reputation clearly still precedes it. But the Plaça Reial is very much an area on the up, with new cafés springing up around its palm-tree-lined square and families out for Sunday strolls. Be one of the first to discover its charms.

As for the hotel itself, we loved it. From the 18 beautiful rooms (most with views, all with fabulous urban-chic style) to the small spa and rooftop terrace, it's perfect for a honeymoon or special stay in the city. But it's the food that steals the show. Our tasting menu in the atmospheric cellar restaurant was nothing short of extraordinary, a true culinary adventure. If it isn't on the Michelin inspectors' shortlist yet, it surely will be soon. And for what you taste, it's terrific value.

Highs

  • The sublime tasting menu in La Cuina; truly one of the best meals we've ever eaten
  • Lovely quiet rooms with lots of comforts
  • A rooftop terrace with a plunge pool and fantastic views from its breakfast tables, plus a streetside tapas restaurant for quick lunches or casual dinners
  • Fantastic multi-lingual staff who know the answer to all your questions, and deliver excellent service with a smile
  • The owners' pride in all things Catalan, which has inspired the décor and food

Lows

  • It's expensive: rates are only a guide and you will get an exact quote when you enquire through i-escape, but be prepared for a price hike. That said, breakfast and tax are included, as are lots of little extras
  • Beware of pickpockets on Las Ramblas
  • No car park, though you won't need in a car in Barcelona as you can walk everywhere

Best time to go

Barcelona is a great city to visit all year round, except perhaps during the last couple of weeks in August when many of the smaller shops and bars are shut. The heat in summer (June to September) can be intense, while spring and autumn are generally pleasantly warm and sunny. December to February is chilly and quiet, except for the Christmas and New Year period, which the Catalans embrace with gusto.

Our top tips

Don't eat lunch if you're planning the tasting menu in the evening; you will need every millimetre of stomach space because delicious dishes just keep on coming!

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 18
  • La Cuina open Tues-Sat; La Terrassa open daily
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: Superior

Rooms

We loved Hotel DO's beautiful rooms. Light-flooded, high-ceilinged and spacious, most have old wooden beams and French windows looking onto the square or over to Las Ramblas. There are various categories according to size, but all feel remarkably quiet considering the location. The Junior Suite, with an elegant four-poster, was our favourite, but we would have been very happy with any of the smaller rooms we saw; there's no such thing as a dud room here. Expect modern art and quirky headboards, Egyptian cotton bedlinen, colourful rugs, and rollered leather Mies van der Rohe chairs in the biggest rooms.

The well-travelled owners (a family from Catalonia) wanted to make their hotel extra special, so they added lots of lovely little touches: really good hairdryers, a free minibar of soft drinks, enormous wardrobes with wooden hangers and umbrellas, and a little stationary set in the Suites. Bathrooms are decadent throughout, with wooden flooring, massive walk-in rain showers (some also have tubs), Molton Brown toiletries, thick robes and slippers.

Honeymooners should splurge on El Terrat, a rooftop room with a plunge pool on its private terrace and views over the Gothic Quarter. If you're coming with kids, ask for the Junior Suite and Standard that interconnect.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee and tea-making facilities (on request)
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron (on request)
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Pillow menu
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Memories of our meal at La Cuina, the underground restaurant with its graceful brick arches, will stay with us for some time. It was, quite simply, one of the best meals we've ever had; amazing produce married with immense creativity and flair. There are loads of tempting à la carte options, but in the end we went for the tasting menu. Although it's not cheap, it's terrific value for the parade of endless dishes that come to your table (many of them surprise amuse bouches, such as a frozen Caesar's salad).

There was lightly roasted lobster with mustard foam; suckling lamb terrine; sea cucumbers with swiss chard and ham essence. Standout, though, was the no-rice mushroom risotto (mushrooms are minutely chopped so it looks like a risotto), which had a beautiful depth of flavour. Green-tea ice cream with chestnut was our first dessert; a nitro tart of cocoa nibs, milk snow and banana ice cream followed. Unfortunately we were so full we could only nibble at the petit fours - mini Magnums, macaroons and cakes, all really dainty and tasting exquisite. Service was warm and knowledgeable, formal but not stiff, and the wine cellar is vast.

For something more simple, there's La Terrassa, Hotel DO's tapas and Mediterranean restaurant, inspired by seasonal, market-fresh produce. We didn't eat here but the menu looked good - Galician veal burger, fresh sardines, salt-cod stew with ratatouille - and tables are alfresco on the side of the Plaça Reial, facing the magnificent Three Graces by Gaudí. Breakfast (said to be excellent) is served up on the roof terrace when it's warm enough, and included in the rates for i-escape guests. Expect pastries, homemade jams and various cooked options.

Barcelona is lined with great restaurants if you want a change of scene. We enjoyed an excellent meat and fish barbecue at Japanese restaurant Carlota Akaneya, a 10-minute walk away.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax on the roof terrace, with its plunge pool and amazing views. In summer there's a cocktail bar up here
  • Wander the labyrinthine streets and squares of the Barri Gòtic. The beautiful cathedral is at its heart; there are also Roman remains, Gothic churches, the Picasso museum and a Jewish Quarter

  • You're seconds from Las Ramblas, a bustling boulevard of stalls, selling everything from fresh flowers to caged birds. There are masses of performers and street artists, so have a few coins to hand - and beware of pickpockets!

  • The amazing Boqueria food market (on Las Ramblas) is a real experience - stock up on delicacies to take home with you

  • Wander 2km to Barceloneta beach for a seafood lunch and lazy afternoon in the sun

  • Watch world-class opera at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, just around the corner from the hotel

  • Unmissable works by Gaudí include the modernist Casa Batlló (once a house, now a museum, with an arched roof and an incredible orange, green and blue mosaicked facade), the Sagrada Familia (a still-unfinished Gothic church, funded entirely by public donation to create a true 'church of the people'), and La Pedrera, with its famous carved exterior and chimneyed roof

  • After a hard day's sight-seeing, relax in the hotel spa, with its steam room and sauna. Or have a massage in the treatment room

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Theatre

Kids

Families are welcome. Children aged 0-2 stay for free in a baby cot or in their parents' bed; there is a supplement charge for older children in an extra bed. There are no specific facilities for children, but reception can arrange babysitting.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Junior Suites can fit a rollaway bed; the smaller rooms can fit a baby cot. There is a Junior Suite and Standard which interconnect.

Babysitting:

On request.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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