Barcelona is one of our favourite cities in Europe. The combination of bars, restaurants, hotels, shopping, and a great big beach in the city centre, what is not to like? Throw in one of the most iconic buildings in the world, the Sagrada Familia, a world class football team and some of the best food in Spain, and you have the ultimate city break destination.
There are plenty of hotels in Barcelona, that goes without saying, and we have only stayed at a little handful. As a first-time visitor it is always hard to know where to stay and what hotel to choose. Here is our little list of hotels we have had the pleasure of staying in, from luxury to simplicity.
The most luxurious of hotels, hotel 1898 is nestled in the heart of Barcelona, right on the Rambla itself. Just steps from the main hub of Placa de Catalunya. It was once the headquarters of the General Philippines Tobacco Company, and in 2005 following extensive renovation the building was reborn with colonial flair as Hotel 1898. For us, the biggest selling point is the location, smack bang in the middle of Barcelona, and the magnificent rooftop bar and pool.
The views from La Isabella Terrace are breath-taking, and to lounge here in the afternoon after a hard day of sightseeing and shopping feels opulent and decadent. Our plush room had a small French balcony and views straight down on the Rambla, the only downside to being on this side of the hotel is that the underground runs under the Rambla, and you can feel and hear each train rumbling down the hill. If you are staying at the hotel, ask for a room in the side street or at the back, the views are a little less spectacular, but you will sleep better. Just around the corner is the spectacular Mercat de la Boqueria market and if you walk out of the lobby to the left there is a cosy small placa with small restaurants and bars, a perfect place for a drink or a coffee.
Our favourite budget option is the H10 Universitat a few metres from the main hub in Barcelona, Placa de Catalunya. The H10 chain have many hotels around Spain, and we tend to choose them when we can, the quality and price is always great. The Universitat has everything you need for a good stay, nice rooms, great location, a fine breakfast, and a cool roof terrace with nice views over the Barca skyline towards the sea. What more can you need?
Just a literal stone throw from the Universitat is the Catalonia Ramblas hotel. A little more upscale with modern rooms and conference facilities, this hotel has a pool area, though not on the roof. The spa is genuinely nice after a hard day of doing nothing in Barcelona. A big plus if you want some luxury and possibility of cooling off in private is that they have some very cool suites who have their own private plunge pools.
The W Barcelona is hard to miss in the skyline of the city. The sail like building in the harbour gives all rooms a spectacular view of the sea, city and beach. It is pure luxury and indulgence with pools, decks, and parties 24/7 in the summer. If your scene is beach clubs, cabanas, drinks service and untz untz untz until the sun comes up, this is the hotel for you. We had to try it, just for the views, we are not the core customer at W, and we felt a bit out of place. The hotel is spectacular, but for us it was a bit wrong (or we were wrong for it) and the fact that the hotel is a long walk from the city centre, makes it a beach and club goers hotel, not an ideal hotel for a mini city break, but a great beach hotel!