As a wandering Irishman it will come as no surprise to you that I have been in my fair share of bars good and bad around the world and for that reason I feel it is time for me to share with you some of them. I hope that this will be a regular thing here on OutEscapes and with that in mind, let me start by introducing you to Barcelona’s La Penultima.
As a well-established gay destination, Barcelona is littered with gay bars and its own Axel Hotel (www.axelhotels.com/barcelona)
What I love about La Penultima is that in winter or summer it always feels cozy. The previous incarnation on this site was a bodega and it still has that air to it with a hint of bohemia found in its scruffy, mismatched furniture. It really does have that air of being in someone’s home it feels that inviting. The barmen, of which there are only two and usually the jovial bear type are the perfect hosts; the kind that put their hands on your shoulder in a friendly manner while taking your order, all the time smiling. One time when we were there and they had overheard us mentioning that one of our group was having his birthday, he tapped me on the shoulder and had ready for us each a glass of cava. That is the kind of thoughtful yet not intrusive service that you have to love.
I have been to La Penultima at many times of the evening and it is certainly a place to go in between other things, say between dinner and a club. While the light is quite low, I have often gone there to read a book and sip some of their excellently sourced wines of which there are just a few. Each time someone has struck up a conversation and the night passes by so effortlessly. The crowd is wonderfully mixed with a lot of bear types mixed in with hipsters. It can get very busy on weekend nights after 11pm and feel a bit cramped but not in the claustrophobic way. It is certainly not a late bar and closes either at 1am or 2am.
La Penultima has created that perfect mix of bohemia and kitsch that can be so easily contrived in other bars. It just oozes a relaxed and friendly charm that is refreshingly the complete opposite to the brash gay bars you find in Barcelona.