On a good night La Pipa can be a haven of calm amid the madness that can be Plaça Real, just off Las Ramblas.
The HQ for Barcelona’s pipe smokers’ club is discreetly tucked away in the corner of the square.
After you’ve found the buzzer, and walked up three flights of stairs, you’ll find the English-style ‘Sherlock Holmes’ pub, decked with portraits, film stills and posters of the great eccentric detective, and you’ll find a cabaret stage and dance space, a pool-table room, and a members-only lounge for pipe smokers.
Wander the linking corridors and view a quirky collection of pipes in various stages of manufacture, including a pipe that once belonged to Dalí, and a collection of old tins, pots and packets of tobacco. You’ll also see a league table of local pipe smokers. Yes, pipe smokers meet here to charge their pipes and puff away, hoping to be the one whose bowl lasts longest and score the points that will put them at the top of the table.
But it’s not just pipe smokers who meet here – the club hosts milonga and tango classes and there’s a regular program of jazz gigs. Several well-known TV and movie actors, and well-known writers, often call in to chill out.
If you’re looking for a cool, friendly, comfortable atmosphere to meet up with friends for a drink, a smoke and a chat get there before 23:00, and avoid Friday and Saturday nights when the place gets packed out with drunken thrill seekers.