Located in the center of Barcelona, just 10 minutes walk from all the shops, restaurants and bars, the Cotton House hotel, makes you feel like you are miles away from this rush. The Cotton House Hotel is a 5 star hotel, where past of the building is combined with a luxury hotel. Previously here was the building which once were the headquarters of the Association of Cotton House Manufacturers. Now it is a luxury hotel that is very “cotton”. Here you will see cotton everywhere, from flower arrangements to specially designed scent that intend to mimic that of the sweet-smelling plant.

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After a pleasant stay in the lobby, on gorgeous chairs, we went to the 1st floor and took a little tour – what I do like the most in the hotels.

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On the first floor is the library, with an amazing amount of books dedicated to sewing and history of cotton. Right from the library you enter a little room. This is a special space where well-heeled guests can still be measured and dressed by some of the city’s top tailors. Additionally, there is a concierge desk and very chic seats. The restaurant right next to the library and concierge is very special. It has the lighting partly provided by bookcases filled with illuminated fabrics. It opens onto an ultimate chic design indoor space for taking breakfast, and very green terrace outdoor. You can choose to have your meals outdoors or indoors.

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We choose to have our breakfast indoors, and just went outdoors to enjoy beautiful arrangements of the terrace. The breakfast buffet has a great variety of food to enjoy. There were not missed the famous “pan con tomate”- bread with tomato sauce and jamon. Apart of this, a lot of sweet cakes to choose. As well we could choose anything else that would be cooked to order, but with 2 hurrying up kids believe me you are happy with the buffet you get.

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And yes, top marks to all the staff, who really were excellent. I was expecting such service, as this is a 5 star property, but it was even better than I thought and it made me very happy. At the entrance to the breakfast area, we were sit as they told us “at the very best place” :). I would say that any place is worth to be sit, but ours was very quiet and cozy for our family. Then coffee, and some tasteful cakes that we asked the staff to bring us, were brought very quick. What we liked a lot.

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We enjoyed our breakfast at such special hotel. If we wouldn’t live in Barcelona, we for sure would choose this hotel for our family stay. The Cotton House Hotel and it’s stuff, makes you feel very comfortable and welcome.

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Montserrat Mountain in Catalonia, Spain (please do not confuse with mountainous Caribbean island) is a “must-see” place to visit once in Barcelona. At 1236 meters high, this natural paradise is the highest point of the Catalan lowlands.

We went there several times with our first son, but for our second son it was his first visit to this holy place.

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Location. Montserrat is located 48km(30miles) west of Barcelona. It is a part of Catalonia and is the location of the Benedictine Abbey-Santa Maria de Montserrat.

History: The area where is Montserrat mountain, dates back to pre-Christian times. Even though the monastery itself has been in place since 1025.

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How to get. All the time we went by car, and it is very close to Barcelona. There are a lot of parkings just before getting to the mountain, where later you can take Rack Railway (Cremallera). As well there is a big parking right on the top, close to the Monastery. The price for parking is 6EUR for all day long. If you leave your car on a free parking and then to go with Rack Railway as we did, on one of our trip, then the price for a return ticket with Rack Railway is 9,90EUR adult price. There is an option to get a full package that includes: Train (Pl. Espanya – Monistrol de Montserrat) (Return ticket) + Barcelona’s Metro (Return ticket) + Rack Railway (Return ticket) + Funiculars, and it costs 31,80EUR per person. The advantage of taking Rack Railway is the stunning views of the place, that won’t be seen with a car ride. Or you can plan the way on your way by buying all the tickets on a ticket machine in Pl. Espanya.

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What to see and do in Montserrat:
– The rock formations. It took 20 millions years for formation this spectacular mountains.
– The Basilica and The Chapels.
– The Virgin of Montserrat. A wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding an infant Christ. The Virgin of Montserrat is considered to be one of the Black Madonnas of Europe. It is also called “la Morenata” which means the little dark one. Due to a very long queue we have never went to see and touch it. Even though this statue is seen from inside of the church.
the Museum. Museum has spectacular works of almost all famous Catalan artists. We went there on our last visit and this time we skip this museum.
– The Grounds. A courtyard outside the monastery is the perfect place to enjoy sunshine and take a rest if you went hiking around the area. I has many arches at which you can take in the magnificent views.
– Go Hiking. Apart of the main area of Montserrat, which represents Basilica and surrounded are there is more to see on a highest point. Saint Jerome (Sant Jeroni) is the highest peak at Montserrat. It is 1236 meters above sea level. There are many hiking trails which will lead you up to this summit. Trails connect from the monastery, the Sant Joan funicular or if you are experienced hiker you can start from the bottom of the mountain! It is a 2-3 hour hike up to the top. During your hike look out for a popular rock formation called the “cavall bernat”.We did it when Damian has been one year, and we went hiking with a pushchair, crazy us. This time we didn’t want even try to go hiking with 2 kids. 🙂
– Go on a retreat. There is a hotel that was converted from an old monastery and is where most pilgrims now reside. It is 3star property but seems to be ok and has really nice views over the mountains.

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Every time we go to Montserrat, we see this beauty in a different way. The scenic views just take our breaths away. And it is the perfect time to relax from a weekly working routine.

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