All photos courtesy Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I
Contributor Mary Noe files a report on Barcelona’s top luxury urban resort: The Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I
Anchored on Barcelona’s tony Avenida Diagonal, the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I is an ideal location for a sunny Spanish get-a-way. Situated near some of Barcelona’s most exciting destinations – yet set away from the city’s bustling tourist areas – the property is an excellent base for exploring Barcelona or relaxing on the gorgeous resort grounds.
Whether for a family holiday or a quick weekend trip, the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I is the perfect place to soak up the Spanish sunshine, enjoy delicious food, and immerse yourself in the local Catalan culture.
The hotel offers spectacular views of the Barcelona skyline and coast, and is set amongst the expansive, 19th century Torre Melina Gardens. Designed by Catalan architect Carlos Ferrater and inaugurated by the King and Queen of Spain just before the 1992 Olympic Games, the hotel was awarded the National Architecture Prize in 1993.
Unpretentious Elegance at Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I
Home to the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya, a world-class convention center, the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos was acquired by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in 2014 and recently underwent a major refurbishment project.
The sleek décor of the Barcelona resort is elegant and upscale, yet the atmosphere is welcoming and unpretentious. The lux design of the property extends to the hotel’s 383 double rooms and 49 suites.
Bathed in light from generous windows, guest rooms offer spectacular views of the city, the Royal Polo Club, Camp Nou, Montjuic mountain, and the sea. The muted greys, chrome, and gold of the neutral décor is enhanced with luxurious linens and bedding, comfortable seating, flat-screen TVs, elegant bathrooms, and contemporary, Barcelona-inspired artwork. The plush robes, complimentary slippers, and nightly turn-down service are Fairmont staples, but are simple touches that make a stay memorable.
Dedicated Service and Superlative Guest Experiences
The hotel’s serene ambiance is outstanding. But what sets this award-winning Fairmont property apart is the dedicated and attentive staff. My family and I booked adjoining rooms: a large double room (spacious enough for our two young adult age sons) that connected to a king suite with a lovely living and dining room.
We were welcomed into our rooms by a bellman who remembered me from previous visits and went out of his way to make sure that we had a wonderful stay (even loaning my husband his personal laptop charger – an unusual type that he brought from home on a Sunday because electronic stores were closed for the day.
This gracious attitude was echoed by team members throughout our stay. For example, our favorite bartender had extra bowls of our teenager’s favorite potato chips ready behind the bar, and warmly greeted us as old friends – by name – when we returned for a drink a few weeks later. Throughout the property, staff members offered impeccable service yet were approachable and friendly, and my family and I felt very well-cared for.
Indeed, it is this type of personal, dedicated service that makes a stay at the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I so exceptional. No wonder the property was voted the #1 Barcelona Hotel in 2017 in the Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards, and won top honors in both the World Luxury Hotel Awards 2017 and the International Hotel Awards 2017-2018.
Family Fun in the Barcelona Sun
Having stayed at the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I on several business trips, I was looking forward to returning with my family during the summer, when the property morphs into a full-fledged holiday resort. The expansive hotel grounds are fully open, and seasonal activities kept my active family happy.
As I had only visited during the winter, I hadn’t yet discovered the historic gardens just a few meters from the contemporary main building. Nestled within the lush landscape are several outdoor swimming pools, a lake, outdoor terraces, and restaurants and lounge areas beautifully designed for relaxation or play.
Set amidst the spacious lawn area of the gardens, the hotel’s largest outdoor pool is open throughout the summer season (and into the Fall, weather permitting) and is a refreshing spot to cool off or relax. With several levels and varying depths, the pool is family-friendly and designed to accommodate swimmers of every age.
Streamlined Balinese day beds and chaise lounges are perfect for relaxing, and the Pool Restaurant & Lounge offers Southern Mediterranean cuisine and champagne by Veuve Cliquot. Pool toys are available, and “open air cinema” movie nights at the pool are great for family time.
Get Fit, Have Fun
The Royal Polo Club of Barcelona, founded in 1887, is also set within the hotel grounds and hosts polo tournaments and other sporting events. Many of the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I guest rooms overlook the famous Polo Club, and it was a treat to watch horses being trained in the early morning.
The club’s well-lit clay tennis courts are accessible to Fairmont guests, and my family happily played several times during our visit. Another on-site bonus for hotel guests is tucked nearby. The Royal Club Fitness & Spa, also located in the hotel gardens, was named one of the world’s top ten fitness centers by Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
Hotel guests receive complimentary access to the fitness area, interior pool, and exterior adults-only pool, and luxurious health, beauty, and spa treatments are available. Hotel guests also have access to facilities at the nearby David Lloyd Turó Park, a fitness club that offers tennis courts, swimming pools, and a fully equipped fitness center.
Nearby Family Attractions
One of the most exciting attractions in Barcelona is located within easy walking distance from the hotel: Camp Nou Stadium, home of the FC Barcelona football team. The stadium is open for guided tours and a visit is exciting even when no games are scheduled.
Tickets for guided visits and matches can be arranged through the hotel concierge. Also within the Camp Nou complex is a museum dedicated to the history of the beloved football club, an Olympic sized ice rink, and the FC Barcelona shop.
The hotel also offers easy access to Barcelona’s world-renown architectural sites, museums, and churches, and with the Barcelona Zoo, the Barcelona Aquarium, the Chocolate Museum, the Cosmo Caixa Science Museum, and more than 4.5 km of beaches also nearby, the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I is a terrific family vacation destination.
The hotel’s excellent concierge team can also arrange tickets, cars, tours, and other local experiences. The hotel offers exclusive seasonal activities on-site, including summertime movies by the pool and unique culinary classes.
Authentic Catalan Dining Experiences
On the day we arrived, we were lucky to attend one of the popular small-group culinary workshops that lure both hotel guests and local Barcelona residents. The workshop celebrated a favorite traditional Catalan pastry – the Coca de Sant Joan – and was a terrific introduction to regional Catalan cuisine and culture.
When we travel, our family loves to sample traditional, regional food and drinks, and the cooking class made us excited about discovering other local specialties. We found that the hotel’s on-site restaurants, led by Executive Chef Claudio Aguirre, showcase unique Catalan dishes and Spanish favorites. Aguirre and his team are committed to using the freshest local ingredients and ecologically friendly practices, and source seasonal vegetables and fruit from a small local farm in El Prat de Llobregat, on the outskirts of the city. Indeed, some of our best meals (and drinks!) in Barcelona were just steps from our room.
B-24, the hotel’s recently remodeled lobby bar and restaurant, is set in the sleek light, glass, and chrome-filled lobby. The spacious, open lounge is decorated in silver, greys, and gold, is furnished with elegant but comfortable seating, and offers several distinct areas for gathering. The restaurant is chicly relaxing, and offers local cava, wines, cocktails, and authentic regional cuisine.
With a delicious variety of traditional Spanish tapas, including spicy patatas bravas and Iberian ham croquettes, B-24quickly became a favorite of our hungry boys. Live music or DJ sessions add to the chill vibe, and service is available 24/7. I appreciated this touch after returning from a late night in Barcelona craving my favorite pan con tomate (a traditional tapas specialty of toasted bread with fresh garlic, ripe tomatoes and olive oil).
The bar is also a natural spot to connect with new friends and fellow Barca futbol fans after a match at the nearby Camp Nou.
The verdict? LuxuryBarcelona thoroughly recommends a stay at the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I when in Barcelona. Whether travelling as a family, a couple, or even solo, this top luxury Barcelona hotel offers superlative service in one of the city’s best locations.
Reviews, Rates, and Reservations: For the latest deals and information, visit our preferred hotel partner’s website at Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I.
Contributor Mary Noe is a freelance writer who loves soaking up local customs and culture at international street markets. Barcelona is home to more than 40 markets, and she’s looking forward to exploring all of them.