Betahaus Creative beast

Two heads are better than one; that’s the idea of Betahaus. The more brainpower in one space the better. Originating in Berlin, this innovative work area and community for creative professionals and entrepreneurs is the new big thing happening all over the globe, where creativity and ideas can be shared and explored. Barcelona’s Betahaus is home to 132 members, 38 start-up companies and 97 freelancers. Talk about an impressive résumé.

This private club is a 2000 square meter workplace and event space that is made up of a funky café, private rooms, larger communal work areas, and terraces—so you can get some work done while also getting your tan on, lounging in the sun. With all that space there’s also room for workshops, launch parties and a bunch of cultural events. Although this all may sound dandy, pump the breaks. In order to get one of their exclusive memberships you need to pass the interview process before being deemed Betahaus worthy. If you do get selected to join the club you also have special benefits at the other locations in places like Copenhagen and Vienna, and soon New York City. Betahaus is one full house of tech savvy, aspiring individuals from all over the world.

Mama's Cafe From morning till night

Not only do they serve breakfast all day, but their focus on organic and local ingredients means it comes with a feel-good buzz too. Nestled in the Gracia neighborhood, Mama’s Cafe isn’t only about nice wholesome food though—just try the burger dripping in Gruyère cheese and you’ll understand. Mama’s makes for an ideal place to grab a bite while watching artists sketch up their new ideas, catch up on some reading over a coffee, or to brunch with friends and cure that hangover hair-of-the-dog style with a Bloody Mary on their popular back patio.

TWOTHIRDS Ocean licks featured

Water covers roughly two thirds of the world (hence the name) so it’s about time there was a fashion brand dedicated to it. Based in Barcelona, TWOTHIRDS is inspired by the oceans, surfing and all life that dwells in the deep blue. And it’s for this reason that most of their wares are either recycled or organic—and also produced in Europe so as to further reduce their impact on the planet.

Not only is their apparel flipper-friendly, it’s easy on the eye too. The Cali surfer look has been a mainstay for decades now but TWOTHIRDS has taken it to a more mature, even urban level. Of course there are blissed-out beach tees and shorts by the barrelful, however, these hang alongside some darker tones suitable for evening wear too and where the Maritime theme is evidenced only in say the imprint on a shirt button or the espadrille sole of a shoe.

That said, if you love the wild open sea, why not say it loud and proud? This is the store for you. So come down to the Barri Gotic, pick up your waterproof jacket made from recycled plastics, throw in a Breton striped sweater, and swipe a ‘50s-style board for your next surf trip. All this and more awaits…

KER Club Welcome to the big league

Whispers of a new party spot had been circulating for a while until a riotous opening bash shredded any semblance of underground cred. Nevertheless, while it may be no secret, KER is still hands-down (or should that be hands in air) one of the most exhilarating clubs in the city.

Those in control of the sound streams are at the top of the game. Let’s name drop the likes of Seth Troxler and Levon Vincent, alongside electro royalty in the shapes of Laurent Garnier and DJ Harvey. Music-wise, you get the picture already, but what about the bricks and mortar? Taking their cues from the iconic Spanish interior designer, Javier Regas, it’s a pretty sleek affair that pulls off the trick of being both intense and intimate.

That’s not to say there aren’t a couple blots on their scoresheet. The old ‘buy a bottle and be a VIP for the night’ policy is just not what we call a party. And the marauding official photographer doesn’t do anything for the vibe either. Needless to say, you won’t notice such nuisances when the dancefloor starts to throb.

Grand Hotel Central Talk of the (old) town featured

The heart of Barcelona beats long and loud. Fortunately, for those in need of respite but unwilling to head to the city’s hinterlands, there’s the Grand Hotel Central. Standing tall, slap-bang in the middle of town (practically shacking up with the Old Cathedral and Barri Gòtic), it’s 10-stories of calm in the eye of the Catalan capital’s storm.

All kinds of impressive from the outside, the imposing (and original) 1920s facade gives way to an unfussed and elegant modern interior. The rooms continue in the same vein, with mute colors, warm lamp-lighting and sleek, voguish furniture. Stylish understatement ends at the wood-bedecked roof terrace, however, where bolder signs of luxury—namely, an off-the-chain infinity pool and epic panoramic views of the old town—have space to flourish.

Back downstairs, the Ávalon restaurant serves up a bevy of excellent Mediterranean-inspired dishes, under the watchful eye of double Michelin-starred chef Ramón Freixa. If you’re looking to sample a little Catalan nightlife too, GHC’s City Bar is a decent place to start, sipping a flawlessly mixed Mojito or an experimental Gin & Tonic. And should you have one too many? No problem. Their righteous morning coffees set even the staunchest hangover straight.

Tickets El mejor de los mejores featured

There’s a simple reason why the minimum wait for reservations at Tickets is two months: They serve some of the best tapas in the world (no hyperbole, promise). The fact that Ferran Adrià—the former head chef of El Bulli, widely regarded as the best eatery in the world before it closed in 2011—is at the helm probably helps a bit too.

The menu oozes insane levels of quality and invention, with dishes such as avocado cannelloni stuffed with crab, razor clams with refried sauce and lemon air, and a Catalonian reboot of surf ‘n’ turf—sauteed bean, iberian sausages and baby squid—zipping out of the open kitchen from open ‘til close. Liquid refreshment comes in the form of Catalan wines, Champagne from across the border and beer served straight from barrels set atop the bar.

In a nutshell? It’s a hell of a wait for a table, but the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow would put Midas to shame.

Barraca A xiringuito like you've never seen featured

Barraca has more than a few things in its favor. Sitting pretty on the sandy edge of Barceloneta, it is a mere croqueta’s throw away from the Mediterranean. Quite literally. You’ll therefore be perhaps unsurprised that the seafood here is wriggling fresh. Not literally this time, though nevertheless exceptionally fresh.

But the reason that this restaurant’s opening was the worst kept secret of summer 2013 had nothing to do with the location nor the fresh fish. The buzz in the air was all to do with the hype-worthy, Michelin-studded record of head chef Xavier Pellicer – a gastronomic wizard who has decided to put down his haute cuisine conjuring spoon for a while and instead go back to doing real people’s food, for real people’s prices.

The all-time peasant favorite paella has taken pride of place here—a deep sticky concoction that is crisped briefly in the oven before serving. Beneath the rich rice crust lurks a near anthology of the ocean, as can be seen in the arroz bomba—complete with squid, rock fish, mussels and clams. Barraca is also organically-minded and kitted out in a modern, nautical manner. But need we really say more…

Negroni Catalan kicks right through the night featured

Been looking for a cocktail place that moulds its extensive mixology expertise to you, and then to each of your friends in turn? Then let Negroni sweep you into its low-lit minimalist black and red surrounds.

The menu isn’t the law here, it’s a mere suggestions board. After the rum-based kick of a Mai-Tai but not so keen on the sweetness, or like the idea of something minty but bored of Mojitos? No problem. Just tell the black-clad bar staff what you like, and what you don’t, and they’ll set to work on mixing and melding a bespoke cocktail tailored to your taste buds—no matter what you’re in the mood for.

Be sure you don’t overlook the eponymous Negroni though. They’ve taken this Florentine classic and given it a contemporary Catalan twist, and once you’ve taken a sip you’ll be in no doubt as to why they named their bar after it.

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