Hotel España Barcelona

Hotel EspañaA little earlier this year we visited Barcelona.  It was our second visit to the Catalan capital and both times we’ve visited we’ve stayed in 4 or 5 star hotels.  This time we stayed in the four star Hotel España and we much prefered it to the 5 star hotel we stayed in previously.

Location

I think location is key in Barcelona.  Yes, there is a good public transport system, but it’s much better to be at the heart of things rather than having to commute in all the time.  The Hotel España is situated in an old quarter of the city, just a minute or so’s walk from Las Ramblas.  Both the Gran Teatro del Liceo (theatre) and La Boquería Market are just a minute’s walk away too.  If you face onto the street, you’ll probably want your windows closed at night because there are often people walking past, but the air conditioning is good and quiet, so this isn’t really an issue.

Rooms

bedroom at Hotel EspañaWe had a standard room.  It wasn’t enormous, but I think you tend to expect that in a centrally located hotel.  It was nicely furnished and had everything you’d expect.  The only thing that we found was a bit of a pain was that I couldn’t turn on just a bedside lamp on my side of the bed.  I could either turn on everything or nothing.  The bathroom was sleek and modern.  My husband, the shower connoisseur, was satisfied with the shower arrangements.  There wasn’t a bath.

Dinner

Restaurante Fonda España decorWe did eat at the hotel’s restaurant,  Restaurante Fonda España, on our first night, a Friday.  It was the only night that we could get a reservation due to being busy one night and being closed one night (Sunday).   The decor of the restaurant is stunning, like so much of this hotel, and there are so many details to take in. It’s almost worth eating here to have the chance to drink in all the designs.

The Restaurante Fonda España describe their cooking as ‘a commitment to the most traditional style of cooking, while embracing modernity’.   However, we didn’t really pick this up from our own meals there.

dessert at Restaurante Fonda EspañaIn fact, we found the food dull and uninspiring and whilst it was the most expensive food we ate whilst we were in the city, it was far from the best that we sampled.  I would recommend having side dishes of vegetables or salads as despite the prices (and this is common in Spain) the main courses don’t come with much in the way of vegetables.  We tried dessert too.  As you can see it looked very nice, but it didn’t really deliver in taste terms.

Breakfast

mermaids at Hotel EspañaIt’s a buffet breakfast at the hotel each morning, but in a setting that is out of this world.  You’ll be transported under the ocean in a magical world of mermaids and sea creatures.  The decor is breathtaking and the walls are tiled up to the high ceiling with under sea motifs.

The buffet is fairly standard fare for a European hotel.  It’s a largely continental breakfast with a small selection of hot food.  In fact, hot is a bit of a misnomer as it is always seemed to be lukewarm.  Much better to stick to the continental breakfast with delicious fresh bread with a choice of cold meats and cheeses.

Overall

interior   Hotel EspañaLooking back at my review I can see I have criticised the food, but I don’t want this review to come across as negative.  If we were looking to visit Barcelona again, and our budget allowed, I wouldn’t hesitate to book in again at this hotel.  The combination of a great location, stunning decor and good customer service made it a real winner for me.  The hotel is justifiably proud of their interiors and they do run regular guided tours (for an extra fee and you need to book, but you could just pop in for a nose around especially if you were eating in the restaurant or drinking in the bar).

 Eating Suggestions

For a quick snack or a light lunch try the La Boquería Market – walk towards the back for stalls selling more substantial snacks and meals.

We liked El Jardi for an alfresco meal of tapas in a lovely garden setting.

 

 

Tesco Cakes

Tesco cakesTesco have recently launched a new range of cakes, bakes and slices.  I’m all for cakes especially when I don’t have to go to the time and trouble of baking them myself.

Tesco have quite a selection to choose from.  I think the sticky toffee popcorn cake slices sound like just the thing to have with a mid morning coffee to fill that gap until lunchtime.

I really like the fact that they offer a number of cake wedges.  You get two wedges in each pack which is perfect if you have a friend coming round and want a slice each, but don’t want the temptation of having the full cake in the house.  I was very tempted by the raspberry and mascapone cake wedges, which looked just the thing for afternoon tea.

If you are thinking of putting on a bit of a spread or simply want some cup cakes to treat yourself or the family to after dinner, I think the cup cakes are hard to beat.  We took the vanilla bean cupcakes and the chocolate fudge cupcakes home to try out.  I found the icing a little on the thick side for my taste on the vanilla bean cupcakes, but I often find that with cupcakes anyway.  I’m of the ‘more cake, less icing’ school of thought generally.  Both types of cake are beautifully, but simply decorated and would grace any table set for tea.

Summer Fusions From Hotel Chocolat Giveaway

Hotel Chocolate goodiesGetting a little parcel from Hotel Chocolat always makes my day.  We’ve tried quite a lot of chocolates out in the past and we’ve always found Hotel Chocolat to be very good quality, plus they offer something a little bit different.

This time I was trying out some of the chocolates from Hotel Chocolat’s summer collection.  In particular, we sampled the Summer Fusions H-Box.

zingy summer chocolates Summer Fusions from Hotel ChocolatThe Summer Fusions H-Box from Hotel Chocolate includes such temptations as key lime pie, kiwi smoothie, lavender caramel and strawberry cheesecake.  These chocolates have been made with a light touch and have lots of fresh, summer flavours, often in quite zingy combinations.

Hotel Chocolat have been generous enough to offer a box to give away to our readers.  So if you’d like to win Summer Fusions From Hotel Chocolat, enter via the rafflecopter below.

Competition Terms and Conditions
1. No bulk, third party or automated entries.

2. Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older.

3. The winners will be chosen by a random draw.

4. The winner will be notified by email and will have a week to claim their prize. Should they fail to respond within this time, an alternative winner will be selected.

5. Promoter is responsible for fulfilling the prize and full contact details of the winner will be passed onto the promoter.

6. Competition closes on 2 August 2014.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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