Neighbourhood Look: The Best Areas to Buy in Barcelona

Posted in Where to Live

Sunshine, seafood, siesta and the Sagrada Família, are just a few of many reasons to visit Barcelona and consequently fall in love with it. So much so, you may be thinking about investing in property or perhaps even settling down in the Catalan capital. But with widely different neighbourhoods in the city, which area do you choose to live in? From the labyrinth of cobble-stoned streets and beautifully restored buildings of the old town, to the cool and happening areas that are home to some of the best bars and restaurants, here are our top five areas to buy (and maybe live) in Barcelona.


Just north of the old city is the modern district of Eixample, a safe and residential part of the city which is also known for its vibrant nightlife. Eixample is filled with art galleries, museums, cafés, high-end boutiques, and fantastic architecture. The area is very central in the city and characterised by the organised blocks and tree-lined streets. It’s also home to some of Barcelona’s best modernist architecture, including the likes of Casa Batlló and La Casa Milà.

El Born

This area of Barcelona is where the old meets the new; the result of which is a charming blend and juxtaposition of historic buildings fitted out with contemporary interiors. Situated in between the Gothic Quarter and the Ciutadella Park, El Born is in the middle of all the action. It’s also where designers, luxury boutiques, restaurants and cocktail bars are located, making it a fashionable neighbourhood to reside in.


Barcelona’s bohemian neighbourhood of Gracia exudes local charm like no other. There are many little squares to discover in this area, all with different atmospheres, and connected by mesmerising streets. It almost feels like a small city on its own, hidden within the cosmopolitan capital. Residents here comprise of the young and older Catalan residents, and together they enjoy the plazas, local shops, indie boutiques, arthouse cinemas, restaurants and cafés.


Located to the east of the city centre, Poblenou is the old industrial estate turned modern neighbourhood that is often underrated. It’s the quieter, calmer side of town and one of few Barcelona neighbourhoods that has managed to escape gentrification. Parts of Poblenou are also described as Barcelona’s creative heart, where you’ll find converted factories housing design agencies, tech offices and showrooms, along with great coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s also in close proximity to the beaches.

Sarrià-Sant Gervasi

As one of the biggest districts in Barcelona, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is also the most residential. It is another of the city’s unique neighbourhoods that has managed to remain relax and open, with few urban sections, while being located just ten minutes from the city’s more bustling centre. This peaceful area is for those that enjoy a slower paced lifestyle in Barcelona. The mix of urban tapas bars, designer boutiques, and nearby nature walks also make it a popular neighbourhood to live in.

Fontaine Cheng
Born and bred in London, Fontaine is a self-proclaimed foodie with extensive experience in the luxury lifestyle landscape. When not exploring the world — discovering cultures and tasting new dishes — she can be found sipping a nice cup of tea (or G&T) hoping to adopt a puppy.

Dolce & Gabbana’s Luxury Sicilian Villa Can Be Yours for US$7.3 Million

Posted in Holiday Homes

Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana are selling more than fashion these days. The duo’s Sicilian seafront villa is now up for sale for the eye-popping price of US$7.3 million. The electric and bold glamour of the iconic Italian brand is seen throughout this luxurious property; located on the island of Stromboli, it sits spectacularly on a cliff overlooking the blue expanse of the Mediterranean Sea and a 3,000-foot-high, oft-erupting volcano.

The villa, which has been owned by the partners since the mid-1990s, was once the setting for lavish parties hosting several A-list celebrities, including Madonna and Naomi Campbell. Surprisingly, it’s deceptively modest with a rustic vibe from its whitewashed façade and straight lines.

Surrounded by expansive terraces and lush gardens and trees, the property invites you to bask in the tropical beauty of its environs. The interior, however, is where the creative aesthetics of Dolce & Gabbana make a dazzling statement. According to Lionel Luxury Real Estate, who is responsible for this listing, the villa “has been renovated according to the style and taste of the two designers, who have furnished it with the same love and passion that they put into designing their clothes.”

Comprising three traditional Aeolian cottages that have been merged into a single entity, the 5,383-square-foot house has seven suites and nine bathrooms. Each suite boasts a colour theme, from sunshine yellow and turquoise blue to candy pink and neon green. Adding to the mesmerising impact of these shades are furnishings that include “unique pieces and fabrics from the fashion house combined with local handmade pieces, colourful hand-painted majolica tiles and lace curtains creating a unique aesthetic,” as described by the agency.

The living and dining areas are equally imaginative, featuring ornate chandeliers that form the central piece of wildly colourful rooms with walls that are adorned with an eclectic selection of art and numerous gold-painted antique cherubs.

Perhaps appropriately, this highly evocative space was used as the setting for a 2015 Dolce & Gabbana commercial starring Colin Farrell, for one of their fragrances.

And while there’s been much speculation behind the duo’s decision to sell this amazing property, nothing has come to the fore. One can only wonder if their losses as a result of the controversy surrounding their misguided China-based campaigns last year have anything to do with it.

In the meantime, interested buyers can look forward to sitting on the villa’s vast terrace, sipping on a fruity beverage, as the soft sea breeze of weaves through the swaying trees.

Staff Writer

The ‘Most Expensive Home on Earth’ Sold for 43% Below Asking Price

Posted in How the One Percent Live

Davide Campari-Milano SpA recently reached a preliminary agreement to sell the historic Villa Les Cedres on the French Riviera for 200 million euros (US$221 million) to an unspecified buyer for private use.

The villa was among the assets that the Italian distiller acquired with its 2016 purchase of Grand Marnier Group. The transaction is expected to close at the end of October, though there are conditions, including the departure from the house of one member of the family that controlled Grand Marnier, Campari said in a statement.

The price is below the 350 million euros at which the villa was listed through the real estate agent Savills. The company didn’t identify the buyer.

The family, called Marnier-Lapostolle, has owned Villa les Cedres in the French coastal town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat since the 1920s. Before that, the property was owned by King Leopold II of Belgium.

Surrounded by a 14-hectare (34.6-acre) botanical garden, the villa is on a peninsula that juts into the Mediterranean between Nice and Monaco. The town has long been home to the rich and famous, with homeowners over the years including Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Ferrero family of Nutella fame.

When Les Cedres is sold, the divestments planned after the Grand Marnier transaction will be “virtually complete,” Campari said in the statement.

Under the terms of the Grand Marnier acquisition, Campari will keep 80 million euros of the sale proceeds, with the rest being distributed to shareholders of the French drinks maker, most of whom are Marnier-Lapostolle family members.

Staff Writer

Looking for Price Growth? Head to Paris, Berlin and Madrid

Posted in Market Report

Paris, Berlin and Madrid are forecast to lead luxury real estate price growth in 2019, according to a recent report from Knight Frank.

High-end homes in the three European cities are set to see prices rise 6% next year each, underpinned by their comparative value, the estate agency and property consultant said. 

“The normalisation of monetary policy, weaker economic growth and a fragile political landscape post-Brexit will influence demand, but the relative value of these cities remains a key driver,” said Kate Everett-Allen, partner of international residential research at Knight Frank, in the report.

Overall, prime price growth will be dampened in 2019, Knight Frank predicts.  Knight Frank analysed 15 major cities worldwide, and many are predicted to see prices stumped by freshly introduced property market regulations, the rising cost of financing, Brexit uncertainty and a high volume of new prime supply.

Markets that have had new financial regulations introduced this year, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, will see prices decline as buyers and developers adjust to new taxes. In Hong Kong, prices are predicted to fall by 10%, in Singapore they’re set to remain flat at 0%. 

Vancouver, which saw a 20% tax on foreign buyers and higher stamp duty introduced this year, is an exception, according to Knight Frank. Though ranked as the weakest prime market of 2018, Vancouver is expected to see prices rise 3% in the coming year as local buyers invest. 

In Sydney’s prime market, a lack of new supply is set to push prime prices up 2% next year. In London, where 2016’s changes to stamp duty have now been fully absorbed, prices are predicted to rise 1% as activity strengthens amid hopes for more political certainty following the U.K.’s departure from the European Union in October.

Staff Writer