– written by Samantha Harrison

I was delighted to attend an agency FAM trip, hosted by 8th Floor at the Almanac Barcelona, to experience the wonders of Barcelona as well as a very few special hotels. 8th Floor were brilliant hosts and showed a range of activities and hotels that can cater for small, medium and large groups; as well as outstanding spaces for events. Read on to get my first-hand experience of the offerings and why Barcelona is one of the best places around to go with your colleagues.

Aerial Photography Of City

Barcelona, a city known for its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and rich history, is not only a popular tourist destination but also a fantastic choice for companies. But why choose here over other European destinations?

Top View Of Food

Culturally, you can expect some Gastronomic Delights: Barcelona’s culinary scene is a melting pot of flavours, offering a wide variety of traditional Spanish dishes and innovative cuisine.

Woman in Black Dress in Arch Building

Don’t forget the Spanish offerings of Art and Music: From world-renowned art galleries like the Picasso Museum to live music performances in the streets, Barcelona provides countless opportunities for cultural enrichment, ideal for those incentive trips..

Finally, feel part of the people with plenty of Local Festivals: Experience the vibrant energy of Barcelona through its numerous festivals and events, such as the La Mercè festival or the colourful Festa Major celebrations.

The trip

Along with other representatives from fellow agencies, I arrived to meet the wonderful Ben from 8th Floor at the entrance to the Almanac Hotel in the centre of Barcelona. As I walked in to the hotel foyer, I knew this hotel was something special. It wasn’t just the grandeur of the space, but it was the feeling of it, mixed with curved lines and gold colours that gave me the sensation I had stepped into something incredibly exclusive. We said our greetings, checked in and made our way up to our bedrooms.

The hotel is situated in an incredible location – right near the centre and the shops, close enough to the beach and in the middle of the cultural centre of Barcelona. The entrance into the bedrooms (as the blinds automatically rolled up as the door is opened) is met with a view over the city from a bay window. It really feels like you are floating… So, of course, I immediately scurried over to the chaise-longue that was perched in perfect position in front of the bay window and just sat for a while to take it all in.

The room itself was fresh, calm, open plan and everything you would need from 5 star luxury at the Almanac Barcelona. Soft carpets, linen with thread counts in their hundreds and a bar with coffee and other amenities. The bathroom was spacious with a large walk in shower and, after using the hotel’s toiletries, I can honestly say the shampoo and conditioner is the best hotel-provided quality product that I have ever used (and I’m picky!)

The room itself was fresh, calm, open plan and everything you would need from 5 star luxury. Soft carpets, linen with thread counts in their hundreds and a bar with coffee and other amenities. The bathroom was spacious with a large walk in shower and, after using the hotel’s toiletries, I can honestly say the shampoo and conditioner is the best hotel-provided quality product that I have ever used (and I’m picky!)

Of course, in terms of technology, the Almanac Barcelona was as prepared as prepared could be. Lighting and in-bedroom appliances were all automated and there was not a wall switch to be seen! Every comfort is thought of from charging points to the sliding doors to switch between a more open plan bedroom to a cosier feel.

Living like a local

After we freshened up a little, we headed out of the Almanac Barcelona into the streets of Barcelona for some fresh air and a chance to meet each other properly and talk events with other professionals in the same field. I was thrilled to share positive experiences in the events world with other like-minded event profs and developed stronger relationships with all. We walked up the Passeig de Gracia and found ourselves in a food hall where we perched like locals and ate jamón, queso manchego and other ‘pica pica’ nibbles – and delighted in a few glasses of Spanish wine. This trip out and about cemented the vibrancy of the Barcelona inhabitants in my mind and provided a dynamic and engaging backdrop for relaxed networking.

After we freshened up a little, we headed out into the streets of Barcelona for some fresh air and a chance to meet each other properly and talk events with other professionals in the same field. I was thrilled to share positive experiences in the events world with other like-minded event profs and developed stronger relationships with all. We walked up the Passeig de Gracia and found ourselves in a food hall where we perched like locals and ate jamón, queso manchego and other ‘pica pica’ nibbles – and delighted in a few glasses of Spanish wine. This trip out and about cemented the vibrancy of the Barcelona inhabitants in my mind and provided a dynamic and engaging backdrop for relaxed networking.

Almanac Barcelona

We headed back to the hotel to enjoy some fabulous cocktails and tapas on the roof terrace. The service was infallible and cannot commend the teams enough for their excellent Espresso Martinis (up there with the best I’ve had, for sure) and their charming, relaxed yet professional demeanour. We sat and watched the sun go down over Barcelona city (and also found the rooftop pool) and talked about how the Almanac provides that perfect balance for relaxed/professional that would be spot on for a large number of corporate events.

Morning came and I grabbed the opportunity… I had been meaning to do a time lapse on my phone for some time and, with the huge bay window and the sun rising before me, I was presented with the perfect opportunity. Proud of my artistic efforts – I am sharing with you (but please excuse the light popping on as I fetched a few cups of delicious coffee!).

Breakfast was served and it covered everything from typical Spanish breads, tomatoes, hams and cheeses to delicate cakes and healthy smoothies. We met the events team at the hotel, as well as the dedicated hotel owners and begun our site visit of the hotel.

Breakfast was served and it covered everything from typical Spanish breads, tomatoes, hams and cheeses to delicate cakes and healthy smoothies. We met the events team at the hotel, as well as the dedicated hotel owners and begun our site visit of the hotel.

The Almanac Barcelona

We started with the restaurant, bar, foyer and entrance lounge – all on the ground floor. Great opportunities for groups to break out, have a relaxed coffee between meetings and even hold drinks receptions, hidden in the middle of the lively neighbourhood.

We headed downstairs to view the large events spaces at the Almanac Barcelona where you can hold anything from a conference, a screening, a wedding or a large private dinner. With flexible spaces thanks to the sliding doors, you really can have the event you want and stay private and away from the glaring sun, before jumping in the lift and having a coffee break on their top floor looking out over the city. But before we did, we made sure we had a good look at their treatment rooms and gym: necessities for a hotel that promises, and delivers, everything.

On the first floor, the Almanac Barcelona has two really interesting spaces. One is a boardroom which is very spacious and floats (with noise cancelling windows) over the entrance foyer. One of those ‘I can see you, but you can’t see me’ genius designs. The other was their private dining room – which you could then reach by heading down some stairs to the main restaurant floor. This is a really stunning space and plenty of layout options and, again, hovering over the restaurant.

On your bike!

After the site visit of the stunning Almanac Barcelona, we walked off towards the sea where we met our guide for the next few hours who would take us around Barcelona on electric bikes (we were certainly happy with the electrical assistance!). Not only did this give us a great view of the city and show us the important areas to relax, walk and take in the city’s history, but it is also a great way to connect with those you go with. Filled with fascinating landmarks, secret pockets of green and a lot of laughs, a bike tour really is a great team building activity!

Lunch at Casa Bonay

We then went to another hotel for lunch – Casa Bonay. I was excited to visit a venue that has been on my radar from previous client enquiries. The hotel couldn’t be more different to the Almanac in terms of style, but just down the road so both ideal in location! Casa Bonay has that home away from home feeling. There is a comfort and a traditional feeling that reflects the Barcelona lifestyle. The rooms looked out onto a courtyard and were minimalistic with traditional decor – light, bright and almost like having a Spanish apartment but with the luxury of a hotel.

For lunch we delighted in their bodega (they also had their own coffee shop and rooftop terrace for barbecues.) Their sage and butter gnocchi will be remembered for a long time by all of us (!). Mediterranean food, a close focus on service and fabulous company, we thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the corners of Barcelona that perhaps only locals would go to – and this was one of those moments.

Dinner at Virens

We popped to our rooms to prepare ourselves for what would be a memorable evening in the private room within the Virens restaurant. Along with many other industry professionals and the teams from the Almanac themselves, I nestled in to a spot at the large rectangular layout – an amazing way to dine and see everyone! The Virens chef, Rodrigo de la Calle, has created a restaurant with the main ingredients in his dishes being veggies and mushrooms. As a fan of veggies, I was on top of the world with a menu including carrot risotto and beetroot gazpacho. Heaven.

Barcelona, I thank you…

So, all in all, I have to say the venues I visited and the experience I had really made me realise Barcelona is a dream for incentive travel. Not only that, but also groups, conferences and any kind of connecting with your team. This is the Spanish lifestyle and the offerings of this city – culture, style, atmosphere and bringing people together.

Thank you to 8th Floor and Almanac Barcelona for hosting me on this visit. If you are interested in any of the venues I have mentioned above or are considering Barcelona as a destination for your next conference, meeting or incentive trip, get in touch with me today and get a first-hand proposal of options – for free!