Barcelona has many things on offer for every type of visitor that pranced through its city streets. It can take more than a few visits to this diverse city to truly get the most out of all it has to offer. On my third visit here, my friend suggested that we go look for the rooftop bar in La Rambla that someone had told her about. I found myself thinking: In La Rambla? Where all the gazillion tour groups wander through and immigrant hawkers hound you around every corner? Boy was I surprised at what we found!
Situated on La Rambla you find Hotel 1898, a tobacco factory turned luxury hotel. I was surprised that I had never noticed it before even though I’ve walked past it numerous of times. It seems guarded by heavy iron gates with a name plague above the entrance indicating its purpose. I guess if you aren’t a guest at the hotel, its easy to miss on a stroll down La Rambla, as it is just a few meters away from La Boqueria Market, a tourist attraction many has their sights set on. Once you find the entrance, it’s best to just own it and walk straight through the double glass doors to the reception hall and turn right towards the elevators as if you know exactly what you’re doing. Be sure to use the correct elevator, as not all of the three in the lobby will get you to the rooftop. Once you get to the top floor, follow a staircase outside and you will be greeted by Terraza La Isabela, the rooftop bar of the hotel.
Entering the terrace was the most tranquil moment of the whole hectic day in Barcelona. The atmosphere changes once you step out onto the terrace, it feel as if you can breathe again. The view that meets you is a spectacular 360 degrees of Barcelona. You can see the tops of the old buildings of the Barri Gothic intermixed with office buildings and apartment buildings needing maintenance, the harbor and up to Montjuic and the castle . The rooftop bar is open to the public, but this fact is not advertised to the public. You will most likely find a few hotel guests joining you for the tranquil party atmosphere and maybe the odd tourist who knows their stuff.
Even though we were on a budget we tried to order more that just beer. We opted for glasses of cava and tapas in the form of olives and deep-fried prawns. I was not impressed with the stinginess of the olives. A plate arrived with four olives, quite gigantic. As we were paying for it and having had bigger plates of more and free olives elsewhere in Spain, this was disappointing. It was also typical of Barcelona, a city that never really did tapas (not even to talk about for free) ever. The cava was really good though, we had two glasses each and the prawns and dipping sauce were pristine.
Okay, so the view from the top is spectacular and you can return to the bustling chaotic world of the city center within a few seconds. In my honest opinion, I did enjoy sneaking into the hotel, feeling more like a glomad than a nomad, sipping expensive champagne (not cava lol) and looking cool on the big sofas on a rooftop bar. I did not enjoy the 20euros it cost me and I was still hungry afterwards. If you’re a budget traveler, you can budget to visit the rooftop bar OR you can buy your own bottle of cava, snacks at SuperCor and head up to Montjuic, Carmel or Turo de la Rovira for a 360degree picnic of your own for under 10euros. Barcelona has great options for everyone.