Where would you choose to stay in Barcelona? Near Las Ramblas, by the atmospheric marina? The Duquesa de Cardona has a near-perfect site – vibrant until the small hours! – and a sophistication to match that of the city. You can safely expect the best of everything here: service, comfort, food, and a high-ceilinged, columned and vaulted restaurant that is quite something. This imposing 19th-century building, in palm-lined Paseo Colón in the city’s famous gothic quarter, was once home to nobles and kings. The aristocratic mood is reflected in original chequered marble floors and stone arches and carvings, while elegant bedrooms, some small, some large, come in contemporary chocolates and taupes with carpeted floors and high ceilings… ask for a harbourside view, but rooms at the back (smaller and darker) may be quieter. Bathrooms are stunning. After a day exploring one of the world’s best-loved cities, return to a sleek teak table on the top terrace, sip a cocktail beneath a vast parasol, take a dip in the splash pool and watch the sun going down. Everything is close to perfection.