I waited to write this article – to remind me of sunnier and more pleasant times during this dark grey January.
When my editor surprised me with a trip to Barcelona and Madrid – I was more than happy to go! it had been an incredibly hectic few months over at House of Coco HQ so a couple days exploring Barcelona and Madrid sounded like the perfect way to unwind and relax!
Barcelona is full of history and the famous Gaudi architecture that surrounds Barcelona is not only breathtaking but utterly beautiful. I arrived late Tuesday evening at the NH Hotel Poduim – greeted with a beautiful cocktail and wonderful canapes – I soon fogot about the 2 hour flight!
They say it is the small things you should pick up on when arriving at a luxury hotel, and if the NH Collection hotels are anything to go by, I definitely knew I was in for 4 days of opulence and complete grandeur. The attention to detail is beyond expectation – the courteous staff and refreshments make me feel more than welcome!
NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderon is where we check in – my room is perfectly equipped with a view of Barcelona that is nothing but perfection. Each room perfect for all your needs depending on what they are. In the afternoon we are given a gastro experience which is hosted by award winning chef Andrea Tumbarello – beautiful cocktails and wine are served with mouth–watering dishes! It’s an experience that titillates all your senses!
Next on the agenda is Madrid!
We arrive in Madrid late in the evening and check into NH Hotel Suecia – a much more boutique hotel – rather than the modern clean lines of the NH Hotels in Barcelona – this hotel focuses on art, clever use of mirrors which are used as note boards – personalised by welcoming you to their hotel. NH Collection Suecia has a moody lights low kind of vibe and an incredibly sensual experience plays in my room – the bathroom is warm and scented beautifully! The hotel preserves aspects of the former landmark building inaugurated by Prince Bertil of Sweden and is known for being Hemingway’s home during his stays in Madrid.
When staying here I urge you to take the lift to the 11th floor to The Atico Casa Suecia where the views of the entire city are completely mesmerising during the day as well as the evening – almost making you feel you’ve left the actual hotel – it is a definite site of its own! That evening we are being hosted at the NH Collection Eurobuilding for dinner.
The joys of the NH experience, what I have come to realise, is that each one is different – expect the unexpected but always be impressed. The Eurobuilding is cool, calm and collected, embracing technology and making it fashionable. A roof which is a giant visual of colours and beautiful scenes from Madrid is an actual treat to view.
Rested, relaxed and feeling completely refreshed! I am awake and ready to explore more of the amazing NH Collection Suecia – breakfast is once again an array of choice and high standard! Nothing beats a good coffee in the morning! I prepare for the day! After a quick workout in the hotel’s gym, which is perfectly equipped for all your needs!
Lunch today is at Santceloni an exclusive 2 Michelin star restaurant headed by NH chef Oscar Velasco – everything exudes beauty! the al la carte menu is completely to die for – taking you on a journey of the senses – the choice of plates and cutlery down to the beautiful lighting makes you feel you’ve walked into another dimension. Wine so perfectly partnered with each course and my favourite being the fish option – breaking in my mouth so gently and softly – everything is seasoned to perfection. The food is genius created by a genius and each morsel makes you feel special.
After a splendid lunch we have some free time! and free time for me – only means one thing. Shopping! Madrid doesn’t disappoint! a hop and skip away all my favourite shops and boutiques and located nearby. The streets are bustling full of fashionable women and well dressed men! outfits so perfectly put together – I mentally make a note to come back again! Tonight the hotel is hosting a party to launch the 5 star hotel to the who’s who of Madrid and we are invited! And to represent House of Coco in true style – I team my black Monokain Jeans with a white Canalli shirt my favourite Gucci Jacket and finished perfectly with Chanel accessories – I am in Spain though and I want some Spanish pizazz added to my outfit and what is more Spanish than a giant hat!? A hat fit for a king! resembling a stylish sombrero!
My outfit is a complete hit at the event! I have a few people wanting to take pictures with me – and ask me whether I’m famous! ‘Darling, I just look it’. Madrid knows how to throw a party! The evening is a complete success and full of laughter – ending up in my bedroom at 2am with a fellow journalist friend ordering room service! and yes they do! and yes it was fresh! and yes it was complete luxury!
The next morning, head feeling a little sore – nothing a good coffee cannot fix! – we head out to explore more of Madrid. We do the so called ‘art walk’ and it is not disappointing! The weather is perfect and the air is crisp – the buildings are stunning and Madrid is full of sites! Wonderful, magical, perfect photo opportunity sites! We arrive at Museo del Prado designed in 1785 by architect of the enlightenment in Spain Juan de Villanueva on the orders of Charles III to house the Natural History Cabinet.
We view pieces by the famous Goya – pieces which I have wanted to see with my own eyes since I was very young. Completely fascinated by each brush stroke, I feel overwhelmingly grateful that I have seen these pieces – ‘The Dog’ being one of my favourites, and ‘Saturn Devouring His Son’. The whole experience is magnificent, the museum is full of history and you could happily spend a whole day in there! I highly recommend this experience.
Our farewell 2 Michelin Star lunch is held at La Terraza del Casino, and I have heard so many amazing things about this place! The NH Collection team have been nothing but wonderful! and this final farewell is something completely special. I carefully open the doors to the building and we walk up a set of steps leading to a lobby, which hosts a room that screams opulence – beautiful rich and extravagant paintings hang from the walls. At this point, you know your experience here will be one to remember! A few floors up we head into the dining room – the décor completely different from the previous rooms we have seen. You almost feel like you have stepped back into the twenties, everything monochrome and styled perfectly.
The light in the dining room is crisp and natural – the mood and feeling is warm and inviting. The atmosphere is infectious the building itself is surrounded by good company. Fine dining at its finest – the views of Madrid are the perfect backdrop for your incredible meal. Cocktails are made in front of us – the crisp and ever so fresh Pisco Sour is must! Snacks include Olive oil butter and tasty shrimp omelette! My ultimate dish of the whole experience is the Pidgeon – rich flavoursome and partnered incredibly well with yuca and dates – this is a first for me and definitely a last because I would be surprised if anyone else could ever manage this for me again especially to this standard!
I describe this whole food experience during my stay in Madrid as Haute Cuisine – food that is art – food so good that you want to take pictures of it so when you get old and the memories fade – you have a visual reminder of how magnificent the food was on this trip.
The NH Hotels are all about originality – their hotels are perfect for whatever kind of trip you decide to embark on. Each one with it’s own personality and creativity! As a guest you have the opportunity to enjoy a new culinary experience, an experience which you will never forget whether it is the modern fast paced NH Hotels over in Barcelona or the avant grade experience of the Suecia in Madrid – either way, I know I will be back!