Shops with charm
A selection of Barcelona's top shops with that special something
Boutiques that make you fall in love with spectacular designs, secret gardens in the middle of the neighbourhood, family bookstores, eco-friendly shops... For the Botigues amb encant (Shops with Charm) competition, organized by the Barcelona city government and Time Out, we asked you to tell us the 20 most special places to shop and, with your votes and your photos, you selected the best shops the city has to offer. These are your winners.
- Critics choice
A place made for kids and teens but still fun for adults, where you can spend hours discovering the marvels between the covers of a book. You can ask for help from the bookseller, listen to recommendations from other customers or just explore freely, picking up whatever catches your eye. There’s a hardcover section, one for those that haven’t yet learned to read, another full of well-loved stories, right next to a small selection for adults – with only titles that the owner likes – and a section for fiction, music, theatre, poetry and art, sitting opposite the educational books, games and books about books. But the apple of Casa Anita’s eye is hidden in a bunch of wine boxes – the picture books, with fiction separated from non-fiction, of course. Self-edited books, origami and puppets have also found a place here.
- Vic, 14 Barcelona, Vila de Gràcia
Simple tables and a neutral decor (presided over by a saxophone and a Singer sewing machine) all lend character to this tea house, which was one of the first to open in the city’s Gothic quarter. While the menu lists 72 varieties of teas and infusions, the owner likes to recommend the ginger root, a Chinese black rose tea, cinnamon and anise for breakfast or an English Rose, which is a blend of Darjeeling, Ceylon with rose petals, fragments of vanilla and a woody aroma.
- Bonavista, 3, Gràcia, 08012
An old meter box factory now filled with beautiful flora, this is truly a treasure of the Sants neighbourhood. As always, you can go to Hivernacle for all your indoor and outdoor gardening needs: plants, seeds, soil, tools and accessories. But what's new is that now they also rent urban garden allotments to measure. If you lack space at home to grow your own lettuce, you can always take a walk to Hivernacle to get in touch with your wild side.
- Melcior de Palau, 32, Sants-Montjuïc
The osleñas, as the creative team of the Oslo project call themselves, run this space that features the work of some 40-odd artists and artisans in Gràcia. This is not your typical shop but a place of refuge for those who want to introduce themselves to the DIY lifestyle. Throughout the year they put out monographs (books specialising in one subject), so keep an eye out.
- Torrent de l'Olla, 164, Gràcia
Flowers, while beautiful on their own, can also be an art form, and at Dadaflor they decided to explore that. In the hands of artist-florist Marta Arnau, this space functions as a shop for all types of flowers – natural, dried, fabric and plastic – and as an art gallery where flowers, mixed with other materials, are used in creative and daring ways. And now you know the origins of the shop's name.
- Provença, 181, Eixample Esquerre
Number didn’t want to miss out on what was going on with footwear in New York, London and Paris, so they decided to bring the most interesting pieces that pass through these fashion capitals to Barcelona. They have shoes from Opening Ceremony, Swear, B Store, Ksubi and Reductions to fit all your needs, whether you prefer to teeter on stilettos, dance around in shoes with personality or hold on tight to your favourites that never go out of fashion.
- Espaseria, 7, Born-Ribera
Saddlebags marked the beginning of Ramonas Barcelona, a little shop in the Born dedicated to urban cycling. Here you’ll find almost anything you can think of to make riding on two wheels more comfortable, such as the classic seats from Brooks, seat covers made from all kinds of fabric and in all kinds of patterns, animal-shaped bells, helmets covered with faux crocodile skin and, returning to their roots, saddlebags. If an elephant can ride a bicycle, as Ramonas proclaims, there’s no good excuse of two-legged animals to keep riding the metro.
- Carders, 51, Born-Ribera
In 2011, Majorcan designer Nataline moved her universe filled with beautiful handmade items from cyberspace to a little corner of Sant Antoni. In her shop you will find a great assortment of colourful, feminine clothing that she herself has made and heaps of truly original accessories.
- Rocafort, 12, Poble-sec, 08015
In La Parada (meaning ‘market stall’) you won’t find asparagus or cod, but instead little landscapes and paper designs. Xènia Bagué and Raquel Villa work in the promotion, distribution and education of photography in this shop in el Mercado de la Abaceria, proof that you don’t need four walls to have a lovely space. On Thursdays they have professional photographers come to discuss their work, and on Saturdays they hold Speaking Corner, where people can get the word out about their projects. It’s great to be able to find both groceries and culture in just one visit to the market, isn’t it?
- Parada 15 i 16 del Mercat de l'Abaceria, Gràcia
Warm colours, laughter and kutchi-kutchi. If you’re a child at heart and yearn for the fluffy, sweet, imaginary world that little ones love, don't miss a visit to I Love Kutchi. This shop in Barceloneta, masquerading as a haberdashery, stocks accessories and decorations for the whole family: a thermal pillow, an iPhone case made of tempting fabrics, a notebook with silkscreened covers or just a roll of washi tape. You’ll have a hard time leaving empty-handed.
- Andrea Dòria, 41 Barcelona, Barceloneta
Bromptons reveal their charm wherever they go, and they’re your best bet if you want to travel through the city in a healthy, sustainable way, without worrying about how you’re going to lock up your bicycle. At Cap Problema they’re specialists in this English brand and, aside from fixing typical mechanical problems, they’ll also dirty their hands to personalize your Brompton to your taste. But you’ll only be able to track them down in the afternoon.
- Plaça dels Traginers, 3, Gòtic
The green lifestyle is now on your plate thanks to La Bioteca. Independent farmers serve the fruit, distribute organic milk and fresh yoghurt, and the grains and legumes (purchased locally and sold wholesale) are 100% organic. Want the cookbook to complete the cycle? Every Friday they provide a recipe: visit them once a week or follow them online.
- Benet Mercadé, 16, Gràcia
When the sun comes out in Barcelona, this shop fills with exclusive models of sunglasses from the era of brands like Leonard and Mimmina. Autumn brings retro silk scarves, and for the rest of the year, vintage dresses, shirts, wool jumpers and Adidas sweatshirts. Not to mention Christian Dior handbags at amazing prices.
- Sepúlveda, 100 Barcelona, Eixample Esquerre
Furniture and exclusive designer pieces are the signatures of Mar de Cava. But in this shop full of both chaos and harmony there is also space for more affordable little treasures, including clothes (from local designers like El Colmillo de Morsa and Montse Liarte), jewellery from Domingo Ayala and lovely cushions from Donna Wilson.
- València 293, Eixample Dret, 08009
It’s tough to find a good old-fashioned legume shop, where dried lentils still wait in their sacks and can be bought wholesale. The good news is that new places just like this are opening up. At the top of the list is Llegums de Sants, a little grocery shop that works to bring back traditional cooking at affordable prices. Aside from Catalan and Spanish varieties, they also stock products like mung beans (native to Asia) and brown rice. You can also find tea, and soon they’ll have organic products as well.
- Carreras i Candi, 89, Sants-Montjuïc
At this modern bakery, the barriers between the customers and the products are broken down, thanks to carefully planned interior design (you can walk all around the display case, watching the bread say, ‘Eat me!’). Those that have tried it insist Martí makes one of the best espressos in the city, but the coffee has to share the spotlight with the Nutella croissants and the ‘antaño’ sandwich, with mayonnaise, lettuce, cheese, and sweet ham on focaccia bread. There’s nothing extraordinary about it, explain the inventors, but just like a classic film, you’ll never get tired of seeing it. Or, in this case, eating it.
- Roger de Llúria, 51, Eixample Dret
‘Eco, bio, justo’ (‘eco-friendly, organic, fair’) is the mantra of Olokuti, which has already spent nearly te10n years defending fair trade and the environment at its fantastic location in Gràcia (and now in the Las Arenas shopping mall as well). Aside from the garden hidden in the back of the shop – a perfect place to hide out and have a cup of tea – they also have an impressive selection of products, illustrating a perfect balance of responsible consumerism and originality.
- Astúries, 36-38
A manifest, a set of ethics, a price: none of the garments or accessories found at GreenLifeStyle break the principles of sustainability, recycling and fair trade. Another unwritten rule is support for design. We love the Milch jumpsuits, the knitted pieces from Caro-e, the colours of the Maronskis and the silhouettes from Las Racines du Ciel. Dress for winter with a hat and a knit sweater from Carolina Simón.
- Torrent de l'Olla, 95, Gràcia
When you have to buy a present and you don't know where to start, it is very convenient to be able to pop into a shop like Colorín Colorao, with its wide range of original gift ideas to match all budgets.
- Travessera de Gràcia, 176, Gràcia
This shop was ahead of the game in introducing eco-electronic products to Spain. You can find solar chargers, Eton radios, torches with LED bulbs, watches powered by water batteries, and a shower head that reduces water consumption by 65%.
- Astúries, 36-38
To all you women who love to take care of your skin and look pretty, this is the place for you. At beauty salon Blau Cel Dona they do everything from manicures and pedicures with Shellac nail polish to facial and body treatments with products from Nature Bissé and Thalgo. Ask about the makeup workshops and you’ll learn just how to bring out those beautiful eyes.
- Provença, 163 bis Barcelona, Eixample Dret