Global music and film stars come through Barcelona on business and squeeze their hours in the capital to enjoy great hotels, modernist architecture and, above all, the city’s gastronomy.
Lady Gaga landed in Barcelona being very much aware that she had relax and rest to give her all for the stage, where she had to make up to her fans for the regrettable cancellation in September last year due to illness. To cover her bases, the star chose the Hotel Arts, a regular choice for accommodation by many of the stars who come to perform in Barcelona. Removed from the centre, but not too far, with formidable views and five-star service, Gaga spent her time there during her almost six day sojourn in Barcelona. A long stay compared to what is usual for iconic figures like her. Her visit, a privilege for the capital of Catalonia, was also positive for her, who being aware of the city’s power of seduction had a photo session on the top floor of the hotel, clothed by Ana Ljubinković and shod by Dsquared2. Nothing got out about her activity in the city beyond her arrival at Barcelona Airport, that the hotel staff were said to have been asked not to look her in the eyes, and that among her basic needs were to have at her disposal a stock of over 30 different waters. Extravagances not unexpected of a woman who since she stormed the world of music delights in being called Mother Monster by her fans.
Gwyneth Paltrow is much more normal when she treads the city’s streets. The actress, 45, has been in Barcelona on several occasions recently for her collaboration with TOUS, the jewellers who signed her as the firm’s ambassador and as the star in their ads. The last time she came was in March 2017, and she took a gastronomic tour of the city that caused a sensation when she posted it on Instagram. A far cry from Gaga’s oddities, Chris Martin’s ex-girlfriend went by Céleri, where chef Xavier Pellicer had her delight in his vegetable-inspired cuisine—one of the artiste’s weaknesses, an icon of healthy living. He also went by Cal Pep, in the historic El Born neibourhood, where she dared try tapas like pescadito frito, and the Priorat wine. Finally, she made sure not to miss an epitome of premium tapeo in central Barcelona’s Raval district, El Cañete, owned by José María Parrado who is also the proprietor of the La Dama restaurant.
Work also brought Beyoncé to Barcelona in the summer of 2016. In August, the queen of R&B mixed with the tourists at the Parc Güell before trying Japanese-Brazilian fusion cuisine at the Ikibana restaurant in the classy neighbourhood of Sarrià, the latest of three establishments with the same name to have opened in the city. The following day, 46,000 fans were expected at the Olympic Stadium, which had come from all over Spain and Europe because they had not got in to the previous concerts on her Formation World Tour. Like Gaga, she stayed in the Arts suite, which costs over 10,000 euros a night. Luxury hotels, modernist architecture and innovative restaurants were the city’s references for Beyoncé.
And as with so many anonymous tourists, gastronomy is what most attracts the celebrities visiting Barcelona. A well known case is Adele, who also came to the city to perform at a concert and could not miss tasting the croquettes of one of the most renowned and modern bistros in the Eixample district, the Mont Bar where she had some ham croquettes. Perhaps she was celebrating the contract she had just signed with Sony for 117 million euros. Or maybe she was gathering strength to fill the Palau Sant Jordi venue. But she was definitely right in the wake of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been at the same bar days earlier. The actor was lodged at the Hotel W, which belongs to American firm Starwood, where he had already stayed. The ex-governor of California may give up his gastronomic patriotism to some extent, but not in everything.
Richard Gere and his partner, Alejandra Silva from Galicia in north-western Spain, were more refined and chose restaurant Roig Robí for dinner one evening in April last year. He was in Barcelona because he was to pick up a prize at the Casa Fuster, where it is understood that he was staying, so he chose the restaurant located in the adjacent Seneca street. The menu, almost entirely vegetarian, comes down to the well known fact that the 68 year old actor is a practicing Buddhist.
Another Hollywood heavyweight was seen in early 2017 around Barcelona: George Clooney, who went with his wife, barrister Amal Clooney. The couple, who had just got married, had a date at the Rooftop Smokehouse, specializing in smoked produce. They hope it would be discreet but to no avail. Immediately rumours spread that the appointment there was to explain to Clooney’s parents that they were to be grandparents to twins, something that could then not be proven but that has eventually been confirmed. The walls of the alternative, delicious restaurant witnessed that moment.
Barcelona brings together the necessary ingredients for stars from all over the world to come and work and, once here, take advantage of the city as just another tourist. Each of them in their own way enjoys the gastronomy, a range of great prestige hotels, architecture, or a benign climate uncommon in the major European capitals. The anonymity that Barcelona offers them and which they cannot enjoy in other cities is also persuasive, convincing them to come and, after a time, repeating, although we do not often hear of the visit anon.
Featured image: Adele at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, 2016 / Photo by Xavi Torrent – GettyImages