When thinking about going on holiday and especially visiting a city, perhaps the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of accommodation is a hotel. However, there are many other options depending on budget and preferences. Barcelona is a fairly compact city which can be seen easily in around 3-4 days, so if you don’t mind using the great integrated public transport system in the city, it doesn’t really matter which neighbourhood you stay in, if you can get a great deal on your accommodation.
Perhaps starting at the bottom, for those on a tighter budget, then you have the classic hostals or hostels. These are typically large rooms with various beds - often bunk beds – and shared bathroom facilities. Some of these hostales have kitchen facilities, although it is very rare. Those who choose hostales are typically given a locker for any valuables, although this is not always the case. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these are for the typical student backpackers, either. Centric Point hostal on Passeig de Gracia is an unbeatable location and a great place with high standards.
Next up are “pensiones” which are like 1 star establishments and are often family run, guesthouse style properties. In the city of Barcelona, these are often one or two old converted apartments, and some have en suite facilities, some don’t. This again, is an excellent choice for people who want to spend more time outside exploring the city than in their accommodation, and can prove considerable savings for a short break. There is a bit of a layover between what you would then consider a 2 star establishment – some of the better 2 star places I’ve seen in the city have been way better than a few of the 3 star hotels.
The next type of accommodation is something often overlooked by many people, and relates to self-catering apartments. These are typically privately owned apartments, ranging from studios or one bedroom apartments, to three or four bedroom properties - some with their own terrace or communal swimming pool. The Barcelona city council regulates the situation and each property within the city centre’s old town must have a licence and comply with rules and regulations. Anyone opting for this option in the city centre itself (Cuitat Vella) should always verify that the apartment has its corresponding licence. Another few important things to check when opting for this kind of accommodation are if the building has a lift/elevator as some older building can have narrow stairwells on a steep incline which may be an unexpected surprise. Also double check things that may be important for personal comfort like air-conditioning, or Satellite Television – don’t make assumptions. I always say that renting a holiday apartment in a city is much better than opting for a hotel, as the kitchen and living room facilities make it seem like a home away from home. Also, if you travel with small children, it’s a godsend being able to prepare proper meals or follow the usual routine, and then being able to relax in a living room and watch TV, or sit out on a balcony while the little ones get their much needed sleep. Again, travelling in a group of friends to an apartment offers considerable savings on multiple hotel rooms that see only a few hours of occupancy a night!
Recent times have seen the Four and Five star hotels in Barcelona offer some fantastic reductions and deals on their rooms and suites. If going on holiday for you really means pampering yourself a little, then you should definitely check prices in these places – you’ll often be pleasantly surprised. Assuming you avoid the huge conference dates, or classic public holidays and bank holiday weekends, you can get some great deals. Bear in mind that many of these hotels have luxury items like rooftop pools, gardens or exclusive terraces that can be enjoyed as well as the luxury of your room.