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Things to do in Barcelona

Become a mosaic master

Mosaic is synonymous with Barcelona (almost) as much as football, with both Gaudí and Picasso famously excelling in the art form. At Mosaiccos (tel: +34 93 295 57 17; www.mosaiccos.com/) they'll teach you how to create multi-coloured patterns out of tile or glass like the best of them. You can choose either one or two hour sessions, and obviously you will be able to take your masterpiece home.

Create your own Cava

An hour outside Barcelona, the Penedes wine region is generally considered the country's best wine-producing location after Rioja. A tour by Barcelona Life (www.barcelona-life.com) will take you around the vineyards and cellars (with lots of sampling going on) and then let you get involved in making your own cava, the country's version of champagne.

Eat all the food in La Boqueria

Like London's Borough Market, the reputation of La Boqueria (tel: +34 93 318 25 84; www.boqueria.info) as a gastronome's mecca both precedes it and is well deserved. Whether you're looking to browse the myriad stalls or find a seat at one of the many restaurants inside, anyone who's into their food won't want to leave.

Explore the Gothic Quarter

The narrow, winding streets of the Gothic Quarter or Barri Gòtic contains an exemplary collection of gothic buildings from Catalonia's Golden Age in the 14th and 15th centuries as well as Roman ruins, squares and restaurants. Plaça Sant Jaume is the epicentre of the city's political life, overlooked by the Renaissance-style Palau de la Generalitat (location of the Catalan government) and the Ajuntament (city hall). Nearby, the Palau Real on Plaça del Rei houses the History Museum of Barcelona, Museu d'Història de la Ciutat. The museum admission fee allows access to the cellar and other beautiful medieval buildings.

Lose an afternoon in El Raval

Despite its relatively central location, just to the right of Las Ramblas, the El Raval district has managed to retain its vibrant and sometimes seedy identity. Check out the street art daubed across shop shutters on Rambla del Raval or have a beer in Bar Marsella (tel: +34 93 442 72 63) where Picasso and Hemingway were said to have done some of their best drinking.

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Hotel Arts Barcelona

The product of a hugely successful collaboration between New York design and Barcelona funds, the Hotel Arts Barcelona has won several awards. Featuring an attractive brass wave-like roof, the 44-storey high hotel pokes conspicuously into Barcelona’s skyline. Thanks to its beachfront location, all 483 rooms have spectacular Mediterranean views. Art works by leading Spanish artists adorn the public areas. Among the wide array of services and amenities is a luxury spa and four top-class restaurants, one of which, Enoteca Paco Pérez, has two Michelin stars.

Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I

Surrounded by major attractions like Camp Nou stadium and the Barcelona Polo Club, the 5-star Juan Carlos is simple yet comfortable. The 432 rooms, including 37 luxury suites, offer panoramic city and sea views. A tranquil patio restaurant, overlooking the hotel garden and pool, is just one of several dining areas and also features a wine lounge. Leisure facilities include a first-class health and fitness club and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

El Palace Hotel

Despite changes of name and management, El Palace Hotel (formerly the Ritz) has maintained all the elegance and grandeur that has made it a by-word for glamour since its opening in 1919. Huge chandeliers, opulent fabrics and a luxurious ambience throughout make it the preferred choice of the rich and famous. The bedrooms are handsomely decorated, with unusual marble bathrooms modelled on ancient Roman spas. The Bluesman Cocktail Bar is ideal for pre-prandial drinks followed by dinner in one of the two restaurants.

Hotel España

Designed by one of the leading lights of the Modernista school of architects, Domenèch i Muntaner, and once patronised by the likes of Dalí, the 2-star España enjoys a privileged location close to La Rambla and the Liceu. Some rooms are better than others, but major compensations include Ramón Casa's striking mural depicting underwater scenes and the elaborate craftsmanship in the splendid typical Catalan dining rooms. The 90 bedrooms are fully equipped; private rooms and a patio garden for meetings and celebrations are also available. It is also one of the few central establishments with parking facilities.

Hotel Praktik Garden

With affordable rates and quality accommodation, Hotel Praktik Garden introduces a new concept midway between a budget hostel and a contemporary hotel. Decked out in white-washed walls, slick lines and retro furnishing, this Barcelona hotel provides the technology and comforts budget travellers look for. Housed in a historical building from the Modernist age, the hotel stands in a quiet area, five minutes away from the city centre by foot. Free Wi-Fi is provided in all rooms and public areas.

Hotel Peninsular

Located in a narrow street near the Liceu opera house and built on the site of a former convent, the Peninsular is one of the oldest hotels in Barcelona. Rooms are simple and clean, although not all have their own bathroom facilities. Full of interesting architectural detail, such as the dining room's Moorish-inspired arches, the real pièce de résistance is the wonderful interior balcony. Adorned with hanging plants and wicker tables and chairs, it has a serene, almost oriental atmosphere. Booking well in advance (approximately three months) is usually necessary.