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Holiday: Le Meridien Ra Hotel

September 19, 2010

We spent eight nights at the Le Meridien Ra Hotel, booking via hotel.com. What follows are some notes from our stay which might be useful should you find yourself looking for an objective view.

Situated about 40 minutes drive from Barceona city centre, this 5 Star Hotel is part of a chain (along with the monstrous looking ´W´ and another Meridien hotel in the Catalan capital). It´s surrounding areas aren´t much to speak of, so you´ll be spending most of your time inside the hotel. A few days in the relative calm, and you´ll easily unwind without even realising it.

Decor
The majority of the rooms are located in a modern office-building like extension which can at first seem a little draining on the senses. But its in the bright sunlight that the architectural pools in the hotel accommodation area which lift the spirits contributing to an altogether modernist feel.

Le meridien ra

The rooms take minimalism to a whole new level, it has to be said. And whilst their stark interiors might at first feel a little alienating, it’s surprising how quickly familiarity makes them feel like home.

Bedroom

The main building (comprising bar, couple of restaurants and ridiculously oversized yet strikingly simple reception area) is a renovated 100 year old sanatorium rescued from it’s dilapidated state thanks to concerted efforts of a local pressure group in nearby El Vendrell.

Reception

The history of the building including some astonishing photographs of how the building was originally used by monks to care for sick children makes for interesting reading. It’s grandeur is at odds with both Calafell (a short walk northwards) and El Vendrell to the south.

Le Meridien Ra

Services

All the usual services are available including the biggest hotel gym I’ve ever seen and a well staffed beauty treatment ‘wing’.

The hotel sports a fantastic spa area (available to all guests) on the top floor of the hotel room block with a couple of saunas, a steam room, a relaxation area and a sundeck overlooking the Meditarranean, plus a grand selection of water therapy treatments. The cold plunge pool might seem frightening at first but, it is worth getting used to.

Staff

Friendly, but not pushy. Hugely efficient and incredibly professional.

Food & Drink

Food is as you would expect from a 5 star hotel. It tastes good, it’s served with an eye for detail and delivered promptly and with a smile. Prices compare well with any London restaurant – 18-28 Euros for a main – although you can guaranteed what’s delivered to the table will always be of significantly higher quality. The red prawn carpaccio was a particular joy.

Room service compares very well too and is always swift. Prices ranged from 13 Euros for a tasty carbonara to 25 Euro for a fish main. Interestingly however, the starters are themselves generously sized making the 15 Euros charge for a tomato and mozzarella salad “starter” a bargain price for a dish which would suffice anyway.

Drinks are what you’d expect to pay in a hotel of this kind. San Miguel on draft comes in cheapest at 5 Euro. A glass of Rioja at 7 Euro. Non-alcoholic cocktails are the same at 7 Euros, whilst a handful of shots make the alcoholic equivalent 9 Euro. Of particular note was the barman manning the piano bar who made a point of checking the cocktails he’d made were up to scratch. I’m not entirely sure what he would have done if we’d said no.

Connections

Forty minutes drive in a taxi from Barcelona city centre. The taxi was a little pricey at 140 Euros although this was a Sunday we were travelling on.

A half-hourly train service runs from nearby Calafell (10 minute walk from the hotel) to Barcelona. It’s 4 Euro for a return journey to Sitges.

The hotel is experimenting with a shuttle service to and from Barcelona airport (the hotel charges 30 Euro a day car parking) at a cost of 30 Euro per person.

Problems

We did register some disappointment that the shuttle service wasn’t available the day we were departing. The duty manager responded to our complaint promptly, arranging a taxi to the airport for the same price.

Conclusion

The overriding memory of Le Meridien Ra is the sub-conscious effect the minimalist style has over such a short period of time. Safely ensconced, it soon becomes apparent when any guest (or large group of guests) starts making lots of noise. Mobile phones and people using them suddenly become an enormous irritation, a measure of the hotel’s achievement in creating a sense of calm throughout the resort.

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