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Carrer Rera Palau 4, Barcelona
+34 933 60 72 22
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Area: El Born
In The Breathing Method, Stephen King, veteran American scribe of countless horror novels, imagines a gentleman’s club in the heart of New York, far removed from the dirty, gritty reality of the world outside. The novella is tough and mean and not for the faint of heart, but it also imagines an exclusive residence beyond the reach of the hoi polloi: tapestries hanging from high marbled walls; roaring fires; aged scotch from crystal decanters served by liveried butlers. And a sense of otherworldliness: that neither time nor reality could penetrate the club’s thick lead-and-oak walls.
It’s a bizarre book and one that sprang to mind as soon as I walked into the Paradiso. For while we love secrets as human beings, we are never happier than when we are the ones in control of that morsel of gossip. In the same way, there is nothing more exhilarating than being invited to a party thrown by the cool kid in school (if you remember your formative teenaged years), or gaining access to the hottest bar or club in town. It’s all about exclusivity, baby.
Now bang that up a notch. Imagine a club so select and exclusive that not even the in-crowd knows it’s there. A place indeed like this one. From the outside, it resembles a common-or-garden sandwich bar, the kind of establishment that you stumble across, drunk and dog-eared, at four in the morning, content to hoover up whatever fare they serve. (And it is, indeed, a real sandwich bar, masquerading under the name ‘Pastrimi’).
But it’s all just a cunning ruse. For step beyond the second seal (and what looks like a fridge) and Pastrimi becomes silky-and-slinky Paradiso, one of the newest and hippest hangouts in Spain’s most vibrant city, the sort that’s filled with young types comfortable in their own skin, boasting cash to burn, and driven by an unusually intense desire to be able to distinguish one London dry gin from the next. Paradiso is handsome rather than beautiful or decorous, dark and moody, the sort of bar you hope you’ll frequent when you grow up, get a nice job and move to a big-and-buzzing city. It’s a place that friends will thank you for introducing them to, and the kind of place that you can happily sink into until it is time to go home.
But – ha! – the façade doesn’t end there. For this establishment, like any self-respecting spy or a cheap matryoshka doll bought from a florid-faced babushka in Red Square, has two disguises, one hiding inside the other. At the far rear of the building, next to the toilets, is a simple janitor’s closet, complete with brooms, mops and a grungy looking sink. Except – double ha! – this is, as the intelligence community would say, a double-bind. Enter a four-digit password into a keypad next to the brooms, and the sink becomes a door, which opens up to reveal a hidden bar, a secret-within-a-secret, a doll-within-a-doll, blessed with a full bar, a brass-lined speakeasy-style central table.  

However the best bit about Paradiso is Giacomo, a world class mixologist who won the Spanish crown of Diageo’s WorldClass competition in 2014, and who came 8th when competiting internationally. Giacomo’s cocktails are works of art. Our group, twenty strong, sipped them down like Coca-Cola: even those of us more partial to a simple beer were wowed by the rum and whisky mixes, served up in long-stemmed cocktail glasses as beautiful and imaginative as the drinks themselves. Four hours after stepping into the sandwich bar, our group, now thinned a little, wandered out into the night in search of our hotel. We were all a little wobbly and woozy of head, thanks to Giacomo’s magic. But we all left wowed by the experience. We all have a fearful inkling, at some point in our lives, that something more exciting is going on elsewhere. Well it is, and it’s happening at Paradiso.


Establishment Type
Bars & Lounges
Special Occasion
Middle of the road