Travelers to Barcelona always face several very good choices about where they will stay. The city has many fine hotels, from modest one-star lodging to world-class 5-Star deluxe “palaces.” There are also a broad range of Holiday or Vacation Apartment Rentals, available in every price range and located in every part of the city.
The question is which is the better option – hotels or Barcelona´s rental apartments? An argument can probably be made for either choice. Consider all of the following …
Rating Barcelona’s Hotels and Holiday Apartments.
There are apartments for rent in Barcelona that are suitable for every taste and budget. The same is true, of course, for hotels. Every traveler knows that hotels receive “star ratings” on a scale from 1 to 5. Hotels with the most stars are posh – much more luxurious and expensive than hotels with fewer stars.
Holiday or Vacation Apartments do not receive star ratings. However, as is the case with hotels, the range of rental apartments available to travelers runs the gamut from very basic and inexpensive to extremely luxurious and expensive. A luxury Barcelona apartment for example will generally be quite large – about 200 square meters – and have several bathrooms, perhaps a Jacuzzi and also a large and inviting terrace.
What about the prices for each option?
As you might expect, prices range from modest to very expensive – for hotels and for vacation apartments, as well. One, two or even three star hotels are likely to be easy on your budget. However, a deluxe 5-star hotel can cost as much as 700 Euros per night. Well, if you can’t afford that, you can at least imagine what it would be like to spend one night in such a hotel.
Vacation Rental Apartments are also available in a broad range of price levels – from inexpensive to moderate to costly. A top-of-the-line Barcelona apartment can set you back as much as 400 Euros a night. But … you are likely to enjoy the use of a private Jacuzzi large enough for six people, top of the line appliances such as flat screen TV in each bedroom and a large terrace that will enable you to look out over much of the city.
This is an extreme of course. There is a great variety of more affordable options. If you are traveling with your family or you are part of a large group, a Barcelona apartment rental is probably the better choice for you. You’ll be able to save money – perhaps a lot of money – by sharing accommodations with your traveling companions. With each of you sharing in the expenses, the cost per night can be as low as 20-30 Euros per each.
Of course, if you are traveling alone or just with your spouse or a single traveling companion, the price differential between a hotel and an apartment rental is much smaller. In fact, in this case, the price for both is virtually the same.
Another way you can save money. If you choose to stay at a vacation apartment, you are almost certain to save money on food. Your rental apartment will have a fully-equipped kitchen in which you can cook meals, anytime you please, instead of always “eating out.” If you elect to stay in a hotel, your package will probably include breakfast, but no other meals … and that means you will have to spend money each day dining in restaurants. If you’re traveling with a large family, including children, it can get very expensive to eat out so frequently.
Where will you enjoy better amenities?
Both hotels and Holiday Apartments will enable you to enjoy many amenities, though rental apartment will probably be better than the hotel in terms of room facilities. Here’s why: any apartment you rent in Barcelona is likely to be fully furnished and well-equipped. The kitchens in most apartment rentals include a broad range of utensils and appliances, including a toaster, a coffeemaker, a microwave oven, a refrigerator, a combination stove/oven and much, much more.
There is even likely to be a washing machine and a dishwasher. It’s like having all of the comforts of home while you’re on vacation.
Many vacation apartments even provide renters with a DVD, a CD Player, an extra cot, a crib, even an internet connection.
And, as is true for hotels, Barcelona Apartments also provide renters with fresh, clean towels and bed linens. When you think about it, the only thing you need to bring with you if you’re renting a Barcelona apartment is your luggage.
Though keep this thought in mind: unlike hotels, apartment rentals in Barcelona do not include daily cleaning from maids or other service staff, so you may have to clean it yourself. If you’d prefer not to clean, you may be able to purchase cleaning services from the person renting the apartment to you for additional cost. You won’t have to worry about cleaning the apartment before you leave. It’s always done for you at no additional charge.
On the other hand there is a range of amenities only the hotels can provide you. Amenities such as a concierge, a restaurant, a swimming pool, free parking (there are apartment rentals that offer free parking also), meeting rooms and more are generally available only to those who stay in hotels and not in rental apartments. So it all depends on your preferencies in each journey.
Where will you be more comfortable?
The typical hotel room, even in a better hotel, is usually only large enough for two, possibly three, people. It will probably include a closet, perhaps a dressing area and a bathroom.
A short term apartment rental in Barcelona – at any price level – except perhaps a studio apartment, will give you much more. You’ll enjoy access to a living/dining room, a bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen … all the comforts you’re used to enjoy in your own home.
This provides you with a big advantage if you’re traveling with a large family or even a group of friends because it allows you to enjoy substantially more privacy and freedom.
Think about this: if you’re traveling with young children and you rent a two-bedroom apartment, you’ll be able to keep your kids close to you and safe and, because you’ll have your own bedroom and privacy, you’ll be able to enjoy a “romantic evening” if the mood strikes you.
What about location?
Hotels and Holiday Apartments are located everywhere in Barcelona. You can stay in the center of the city and close to the action or far from the tourists and the noise. If you prefer, you can even stay at the beach in hotels or apartments located in that area.
Check-in/Check-out times depend on where you stay.
If you’re a guest at a Barcelona hotel, check-in –and-out time is normally noon, but can be as early as 11:00 A.M. There is no set rule for check-out times at Holiday Apartment Rentals. Generally, renters tend to check-out between 11:00 A.M. and 12 Noon. Check-In time is usually between 2:00 P.M. and 3:00 P.M. Here’s an important point to remember: if you’re renting an apartment, you can always ask your “landlord” for an earlier check-in time or a later check-out time. He or she will be happy to satisfy your request if it is at all possible to do so.
Luggage storage is available.
If you have a late afternoon or evening flight – and you have already checked out – your hotel will generally store your luggage until the end of the day. That convenience may not be available to you if you’re renting a holiday apartment … because, very often, a new renter is arriving just as you leave your apartment. Nevertheless, you can always ask the “landlord” for help temporarily storing your luggage for you until you’re ready to leave for the airport.
Which gives you the better experience?
If you’ve traveled before, you know what to expect from a hotel stay – standard, everyday amenities and comforts. A stay in a short term rental apartment in Barcelona can give you so much more – the chance to “live like a local” and experience Barcelona from a perspective not available to hotel guests. Choose to stay in a rented apartment and you will see, feel and experience life in Barcelona – Spanish style. There may be no other experience like it.
Holiday Apartment or hotel … no matter your choice, you are sure to enjoy your stay in Barcelona. But, if you’ve already experienced life as a hotel guest in the past, consider a Barcelona apartment rental this time. It may make your trip a lot more memorable.
Choosing the right Barcelona accommodation for your short-term vacation in Barcelona or business trip is not as straightforward as most people believe it to be. Most people automatically look for a hotel directory to find their accommodation, but there are several alternative options that might better suit your needs.
Not only can these offer you a greater degree of comfort, but can also be considerably less expensive that hotel accommodation - a factor that is assuming increasing importance in today’s economic climate. The major business and vacation accommodation alternatives that Barcelona has to offer are:
There are literally hundreds of self-catering apartments for short-term let in Barcelona. Many people shy away when they read the words ’self-catering’, but what is a hotel? If you prefer to eat out you can do so just the same with self-catering accommodation as you can do with a hotel. However, the former allows to put together a sandwich or even a steak for supper should you want to do so, that no hotel room enables you to do. OK there is room service - but at what price?
With prices commencing at 70 Euros a day there need be no explanation for the reason for their popularity. There are many vacation apartments all over Barcelona, including the centre of the city such as the holiday apartments in Las Ramblas and Barrio Gotico. If you prefer luxury, then Eixample and Vila Olimpica offer you an excellent choice of luxury apartments for short-term let.
Even business people are now looking to apartments rather than hotel rooms because of their convenience and economy. Even the classy luxury business apartments close to the Congress Centre and the Fira De Barcelona Fair are economical compared to hotels. They also offer multiple rooms at a lower price than most hotels do for one room! So, if you have a party from your company visiting an exhibition or conference, then an apartment offers the same degree of luxury as a hotel room, but for more people and at a lower price.
You get what you want in Barcelona, and the city can offer both inexpensive and higher priced luxury short-term rental accommodation, plus anything between the two. Before deciding, just consider the advantages that a fully fitted apartment offers over a hotel: cooking facilities when you need them, dishwasher and laundry right on the premises at no extra cost and you can bring in your own drinks at a fraction of the price of hotel bars.
You can also have broadband internet access, and many offer a safe for those valuables that you don’t want to carry about with you. Finally, an added financial benefit is that while you each pay full price for your separate rooms in a hotel, apartments are priced differently. Hence, if you pay 90 euros for two people, three can cost only 100 euros and so on. That should keep your accountant happy!
With over 400 hotels (these are denoted with H), you won’t be short of hotel accommodation in Barcelona. Every hotel is en-suite, and they come in a range of prices and grades, from one to five stars. You get what you would expect from hotels, and the more stars the more you pay and the more luxury and comfort you get. You can expect the five-star hotels to be truly luxurious, with superb facilities and a high level of service. Four-star hotels will be almost as good as the accommodation first-class, while a three-star hotel will cost appreciably less.
Many hotels in Barcelona are built around an inner courtyard, and rooms overlooking these will be quiet but can be gloomy, but they all tend to have air conditioning to keep you comfortable during the hot Spanish summers!
Public areas in the lower-graded hotels can be fairly sparse, and some of the lower graded or ungraded hotels will not offer restaurant facilities. However, if you tend to spend the vast majority of your time out of your accommodation that should not worry you.
These basically take the form of small apartments within hotels, and are a relatively new accommodation development in Barcelona. They usually offer a room or two and an equipped small kitchen with cooking facilities and crockery that enable you to cook your own meals if you wish. They are like a mini-apartment and good for families or small groups visiting Barcelona on vacation or for meetings.
They combine the benefits of a hotel and a short-term rental apartment without fully realizing the benefits that either alone can provide. However, they are a new idea to Barcelona and fine for short-term visits.
4. Hostales and Pensions
A ‘hostal’ (in Spanish) and a ‘pension’ in Spain are fundamentally the same, being equivalent to a guesthouse or small hotel. They are frequently family businesses, generally without the facilities of full hotels. Few offer restaurant facilities, and many do not offer breakfast. The cost would be expected to be a third to a half of that of a hotel, and a hostal or pension is a cheap alternative when you have to keep an eye on your expenditure.
They are graded from one to three stars, and while a 3-star pension is equivalent to about a 2-star hotel, the facilities and amenities offered are not represented by the star rating, and neither are the prices charged.
5. Youth Hostels
Youth hostels are cheap accommodation for younger people with a common bathroom, and normally common sleeping areas. They generally have few or no comforts or amenities apart from toilet facilities, and their prices reflect the fact.
In general, people normally go for hotels or Barcelona apartment rentals, and the luxury Barcelona apartments especially are becoming increasingly more popular because they are less expensive and better appointed than the same luxury hotels, offering more options at lower cost for groups of holidaymakers and business-people. Beach apartments are also popular, though many prefer the Las Ramblas apartments and Barrio Gotico apartments due to their proximity to the city centre.
It should be stressed that all accommodation in Catalonia is regulated by the Generalitat, or regional government, so that you can be sure of a reasonable standard that should reflect the price that you pay. That price, however, will vary according to the season, and is generally higher in summer, Christmas and Easter. They can also increase during fairs and festival projects, and during local holidays when the local population tend to take many of them up.