Endless tapas and vermouth joints, a thriving music scene that’s birthed two of the finest music festivals the 21st century has to offer, achingly beautiful Gaudi architecture at every corner, a beach that’s primed for lounging more than 80% of the year; Barcelona really isn’t a bad shout if you’re planning a weekend away, because no matter how you much plan on doing, there’ll still be more to accomplish. Show the rest of this post…
The Praktik Vinoteca was our elegant outpost for the weekend, the latest endeavour in a series of minimal and modernist hotels from the Praktik Group. Their boutique presence in the Catalan capital is more than healthy, in addition to the Vinoteca, they have two centrally located hotels (Rambla and Garden), with another housed in a nearby bakery. The Praktik Vinoteca, as you may have guessed, is a hotel designed and defined by an obsession for wine.
Tucked away on Carrer Balmes in the Eixemple district, the hotel is well situated just a ten minute amble from Placa de Catalunya, a main drop-off point for coaches and shuttle buses, as well as being in close proximity to metro stations Passeig de Gracia and Universitat, and just a 20-minute cab ride from the airport. The area is positively brimming with character, with the Modernist touchstones of La Segrada Familia, Casa Battlo and Casa Calvet, alongside a whole host of designer shops and supreme fine-dining experiences.
The hotel’s interior was designed by Lazaro Rosa-Violan (of Contemporain Studio), while we stayed in an Exterior Double facing the hustle and bustle of the Carrer Balmes. The rooms aren’t huge but every drop of space was used to great effect, resulting in a perfectly snug home away from home. The large double bed and soft pillows made for a wonderful night’s sleep after a long day traipsing the streets.
The WiFi was superb too, perfect for planning excursions and visits to the local Gaudi hotspots, while perching out on the small balcony is a great way to soak up the local atmosphere.
The bathroom at the Praktik Vinoteca is a practical masterpiece, stylishly squeezing the most out of close quarters. As you enter the room, you are greeted by a pair of cubicles on either side, decorated with sleek black squares. A roomy shower space fills one, with a powerful overhead/hand shower and products sourced from seaweed. A toilet/basin completes the other, with the welcome bonus of a hairdryer. The corridor acts a dressing area with a partition between the main area for privacy, there’s a large mirror on the back of the door too.
As the hotel was still in its infancy breakfast wasn’t on offer, but we were informed this will be incorporated in the future. The nearby Il Caffe Di Francisco more than served our needs in pepping us up for the day, with cafe con leches and heavenly lemon cake. For the gourmets amongst you, the magnificent Cinc Sentits is a five-minute stroll away, a place for unforgettable dining experience from the Michelin starred chef, Jordi Alba. Tapas at the nearby Comtal was brilliant too, hearty and good-value fare after travelling from the airport.
Hotel staff are extremely helpful, more than happy to organise various wine-welated excursions, offer tips on local hotspots and book a taxi for you. The hotel is also fully accessible, with a ramp at the entrance and lifts to every floor.
What Praktik Vinoteca lacks in breakfast and room service, it makes up in unrivalled oenological expertise. In addition to the complimentary glass of Catalan fizz shortly after our arrival, the in-house sommelier Tomas holds regular free wine tastings; they’re an enlightening experience for the palate, regardless of whether you know your rioja from your ribiera. A word about the surroundings, the main reception/lounge area where all this takes place is a truly gorgeous room. Wine bottles adorning every wall, majestic floral lampshades and lightbulbs inside a lightbulb makes for decadent people-watching while you’re sitting at the window gazing out at the street.
We were treated to a sumptuous white, the Pere Punyetes Blanc, a blend of Muscat and Xarelo, a grape local to the region and a luscious melange of fruity textures flecked with a rewarding crispness, whilst also being led through the merits and intricacies of numerous reds, borne from regional grapes and those further afield. It’s also possible to buy wine to take home with you (they provide bubble-wrap to prevent any luggage mishaps) or have it delivered to your door, courtesy of their link up with wine distributors, Most.
Focusing on something close to their heart is always going to make for an endearing experience, and the Praktik Vinoteca certainly doesn’t disappoint in that respect. The way the hotel is designed, drinking wine feels like the most natural activity in gorgeous understated surroundings, which is a worthy achievement because the appeal will extend beyond wine-lovers. That said, the chance to take a bottle or two upstairs would have been welcome.
For reservations and more, please visit: www.hotelpraktikvinoteca.com
Hotel Praktik Vinoteca, Carrer de Balmes 51, 08006 Barcelona