I had the Hotel Arts in Barcelona on my radar for a long time but it was never the right time to go there. Too expensive at certain times of the year and then a cancelled trip in March 2019 due to COVID… So it wasn’t until 2022 that I was able to see if it deserved its reputation.
Note that as its name does not indicate the Arts is a Ritz Carlton.
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I booked two months in advance a standard room, i.e. a Deluxe, at around 200 euros per night.
Location of the hotel
The Arts Hotel is part of an architectural project that was built forthe 1992 Olympic Games. It was designed by the architect Bruce Graham and faces the no less famous Mapfre Tower. Originally, for the games, it was delivered with 10 floors, the rest finished after the event. Today it has 44 floors for a height of 154m.
On the left the Arts, on the right the Mapfre Tower
For those who know Barcelona, one of the most emblematic architectural elements of the complex is the fish by the architect Frank Gehry, which can be seen very well from the hotel pool.
In terms of location you would think that it is less out of the way than the W Barcelona where we sometimes have our habits but it is not. We will say that it is in a less deserted zone but in the end to go to visit the main sites of the city or to go to dine you are not less distant.
Finally, what characterizes the hotel is its metal structure and the fact that it is integrated into a set of gardens overlooking the street.
What may surprise you is that with its 154m it is much higher than the W Barcelona (99m), although at first glance it is anything but obvious.
Arrival at the hotel and check in.
I arrive by cab from the airport in about 20 minutes. The cab drops me off in front of the hotel’s private pick-up area where a bellman takes care of me. He takes charge of my luggage and invites me to go upstairs for check-in. My luggages will join me in my room of course.
The check in area is not big (only two desks) and is already quite crowded. There is no priority queue for “elite” guests.
I am asked to change line because a IT problem is blocking one of the computers. To help me wait I am offered a glass of Cava.
It is slow,messy and laborious. It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced such a chaotic check-in.
Finally when it’s my turn it goes very fast since I did my check-in online and I only have one paper to sign.
The protocol of the loyalty program is followed and I am told that I have been upgraded to a deluxe room with a “view of both the sea and the city”. Nice but a bit stingy when there are still suites available and moreover it’s my birthday, something the hotel can’t ignore, an occasion they always take advantage of to please their loyal customers. For example, theRitz Carlton Istanbul did not miss the opportunity a few years ago.
This birthday story may make you smile, but we will see several times through it that something is not working at the service or customer relationship level.
So I go to my room
The “Deluxe City and Sea View Room” at the Arts Barcelona
The room opens onto a small hallway.
On the right the bathroom. With a double sink…
A large bathtub…
And a beautiful shower.
Amenities are from Asprey.
Then the room is divided into three areas: bed, desk, small lounge.
A large and very comfortable bed.
A real office space…which I welcome because I find it tends to disappear.
And a small lounge area to enjoy the view…
A bottle of Cava awaits me with a welcome note. This is not a gesture for my birthday, just a gesture related to my status in the loyalty programand applied in an almost systematic way.
The view is not bad but I would have preferred to be on the other side to really see the city.
Finally, the best thing is perhaps the breathtaking view of the Mapfre Tower.
For once the mini bar is not empty.
Let’s finish with the traditional video.
A beautiful room, very very comfortable and high quality bedding. Nothing to complain about. On the other hand,there is a lot of stinginess on the toiletries: strict minimum provided and when I used 75% of the bottle of shower gel, it is not replaced or another one is not put in addition. As a result, the next day I had to shower at the end of the afternoon and the next morning with barely 1/4 of a mini bottle of shower gel.
Pool, gym and spa
As you can imagine, Arts Barcelona is richly endowed in terms of facilities even if March is not the best time to enjoy them.
Let’s start with thepools, all of which are outdoor and offer a great view of the Gehry Fish.
Of course, March is the time when maintenance work is done in preparation for the high season…
The second is a beautiful infinity pool.
It’s hard to tell in this context, but I’d be tempted to say that it’s a beautiful facility with an unobstructed viewof the street, the beach and Marina, which protects from the noise of the city.
Then and even if there is a lot of space to settle around the swimming pools or in the gardens I am afraid that they are a little short in capacity when the hotel is full.
The hotel also has a gym. Not particularly well equipped (neither in quantity nor in quality), with too much equipment concentrated in some places and too much unused space in others…I will not keep a great memory of it.
Finally, there is a spa, located at the top of the hotel. To use the facilities you have to reserve and pay per session, which at first I found a bit disappointing. So I booked a specific time slot before going on to a treatment.
The day said at the time said I show up and…my reservation was lost on the way ( fortunately I had a trace of my exchange with the concierge of the hotel). The person at the reception desk tries to see if she can find me a slot… I take a disappointed attitude and say “ah that’s too bad, I had planned this on purpose for my birthday ….”. Strangely enough, this wakes her up and a solution is found almost immediately.
I finally understand why it was absolutely necessary to reserve and the justification of the fact that it is paying. It is not a big spa with sauna, hammam, swimming pool etc… like most of the time but individual spas that can be booked for a given period of time,for one, two or a group of friends.
So I enter “my” private spa.
There is a rest area and a pool with jets and bubbles.
A large shower area.
A little further on the sauna…
And the hammam not photographable because of the steam that prevents any visibility.
It is beautiful, big, spacious and very pleasant to be totally alone. In addition the view is superb and when the weather is good it must be very bright.
In the distance we see the W…
It looks even better in video.
While the spa is in use, all you have to do is ask for a cup of tea or coffee…
A really pleasant experience which is worth the (to my memory) 30 euros charged and which makes you forget the few mistakes I noticed. It’s beena long time since I’ve been so excited about a spa since the Radisson Blu in Gothenburg, in a different style.
Finally, once my “slot” was over, I was invited to wait for my treatment to begin in individual rest areas.
If the weather had been better I could have even enjoyed the terrace.
The treatment will be of excellent quality.
Bars and restaurants
I did not test the restaurants of the hotel, just a very pleasant passage at the bar at the end of the evening.
On my way back from the spa I see a member of staff working in my room…
She admitted to me that the spa alerted the reception who recognized that there was a malfunction on the ” birthday protocol ” on which they are usually proactive so they tried to tinker something.
It looks a bit amateurish but it has the merit of being authentic. I almost prefer the spa to be the one to initiate it.
The mobile check-out is not available so I had to wait in line at the reception. Here begins a long paperwork sequence while I am in a hurry. I did not like the dark stare I got when I asked why it was not possible to do the operation on my mobile.
In the end they charged my fees to a different credit card than the one given at check-in (which is the one registered in the Marriott systems), certainly the one that was in the Ritz Carlton systems following my previous stay in Istanbul. Why they used that one….mystery.
I end up getting really pissed off and leave the hotel with relief once the sequence is (finally) over.
Nothing to complain about in terms of friendliness. But I’ve seen too many approximations to tell myself that it’s all about the tools and processes. A little bit of carelessness, unpreparedness I think.
At the very least I would not have had the spa episode I could have said that all my interactions with the staff were disappointing or at best neutral except at the bar. Smiling and friendly but useless.
The Hotel Arts Barcelona is a very nice property but, in my opinion, operated a little too carelessly. Check in and check out not at all up to Ritz Carlton standards, loss of spa reservation, petty application of the loyalty program.
So there were gestures to compensate but initially there were oversights and mistakes.
I’m tempted to say I’ll return to give it a second chance and just to enjoy the spa… but I’ll take my time. There are other places to try in Barcelona until then.
On the one hand, the overall experience is good but it is far from what one expects from a Ritz Carlton.