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Best of Barcelona

Until recently, picturesque Mount Tibidabo was best known for its Deco-style train station (as glam as a tram gets) and a jaw-dropping view (on a clear day, you can see Majorca). Now the big attraction is the reincarnated Gran Hotel La Florida (www.hotellaflorida.com; doubles from $337), which exudes old-school glamour with latter-day luxuries like a spa, a beauty center, a Turkish bath, and a pool with a retractable roof. Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Stewart checked in during the hotel's heyday (it opened in 1925 but closed down in 1973). La Florida is once again bound to bring in A-listers who would welcome a little privacy up, up, and away from all the nonstop action of downtown.


Barcelona's ritzy Passeig de Gràcia and Avenida Diagonal may not be on a par with New York's Fifth Avenue (more DKNY than Donna Karan). But the locals' inherently stylish tendencies are evidenced in the innovative furniture and clothes on display in shops around town.

Clothing Label queens unite at Jean-Pierre Bua (469 Avda. Diagonal; 34-93/439-7100), a well-edited boutique for men and women that's stocked with the greatest runway hits from the European brands that Zara (Spain's fashion chain of choice) knocks off so seamlessly. You'll find Dolce & Gabbana, Stella McCartney, and Jean-Paul Gaultier—as well as big-name sunglasses and accessories.

Following the success of his tourist-jammed El Born boutique, designer Custo Dalmau (see his tips, below) opened a second shop, Custo Barcelona (36 Carrer Ferran; 34-93/342-6698), in the Barri Gòtic. Both carry his flamboyant men's and women's lines and, at nearly 100 euros, the most expensive T-shirts in town.

Another local favorite, Antonio Miró (349-351 Carrer Consell de Cent; 34-93/487-0670), may be best known for his luxe treatment of such materials as poplin, rayon, and lightweight wool in impeccably tailored men's suits. This store—which carries his men's, women's, and jeans lines—proves that even denim can be a cut above.

So_da (24 Carrer Avinyó; 34-93/412-2776) might consider changing its name to the more appropriate Te_quila. The shop features an in-store bar (and a DJ booth), but the cute selection of urban gear can give as much of a buzz as downing shots en route to the fitting rooms. At least your hangover will be gone by the time the credit card bill arrives.

To paraphrase U2, Noténom (159 Carrer Pau Claris; 34-93/487-6084) is where the shop has no name (noténom means "no name")—unlike all the edgy designer brands represented here, among them Helmut Lang, D2, and Miriam Ocariz, who hails from Bilbao. The no-attitude store caters to men and women, the street-smart and the sophisticated. Yohji Yamamoto Adidas sneakers are on display alongside seductive stilettos made by Barcelona-based shoe designer Juan Antonio López, who has been hailed as "the new Blahnik."


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