Spa 43 at Hotel Arts, Barcelona: One of the highest spas in the city

Josephine Price escapes the balmy streets of Barcelona for an aromatherapy massage Wednesday, 14 October 2015

By Josephine Price

The porter beamed at us as he ushered us into the lift, chatting enthusiastically about the spa. This was to be the first of three lifts that took us up to the 43rd floor of the Ritz-Carlton's Hotel Arts, home to the aptly named Spa 43. After the final ascent, the doors opened to reveal a reception area decorated in creamy concrete. The light stone gave off both a neutral glow and a cool temperature, which was much appreciated after the balmy streets of Barcelona below.

We were here for a city break but the heady mix of scorching summer temperatures and late-night Catalonian culture had left us feeling a little weary and in need of pampering.

The changing rooms, where we slipped into our white waffle gowns and slippers, were a sumptuous contrast of dark woods and cream furnishings, with a floor-to-ceiling window offering fantastic views across the city and the beach below. We suddenly understood the porter's earlier excitement. This was no ordinary spa.

We peered down at the multi-coloured specks of towel-draped sun loungers and parasols that peppered the beach below and watched as the city began to come to life. The birds-eye-view of Frank Gehry's Peix (fish) sculpture that defines this section of seafront was an unusual and impressive sight.

After a chat with the friendly staff, my friend was directed off for her pedicure while I made my way up to one of the massage treatment rooms. Featuring the same floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views, the room was a calm haven. I soaked up the sun and the views once again while we discussed aromatherapy oils before the treatment began. Determined to achieve optimum relaxation by the end of the session, I opted for lavender oil — although the mint and verbena options smelt equally intoxicating.

The masseuse doused my feet with a wet flannel to cool me down — a soothing, if startling, start to the full body massage. I felt my back begin to unlock as she released tired muscles with sweeping strokes and pressed out the kinks in my shoulders that heavy bags and gym workouts had created.

Afterwards, feeling reinvigorated, I was led out to join my friend in the relaxation area. The outdoor section, with its loungers and uninterrupted sea views, extinguished all desires to head down to join the crowds on the beach. Heading indoors led us to vitality pools, a steam room, a sauna and ice fountains, where we could have easily whiled away the next few hours. A selection of nuts and glasses of refreshing lemon-infused water kept us happy and hydrated.

We left feeling thoroughly spoilt. Once we hit the beach and looked back up at the gleaming hotel towering above Barceloneta beach, it was hard to believe that up there was the oasis in which we'd spent a few heady hours being pampered. As much as we longed to go back, we were rejuvenated and ready to tackle the city again. We had found something special — even the porter knew it.

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