What do our reviewers think of the cities they're reviewing? Here, EuroCheapo Barcelona Correspondent Regina WB asks herself a few questions about her adopted home town of Barcelona. Read carefully.
1. What hotel would you recommend to your friend? Your mother?
This is a good question! I’ve recommended Hostal Goya to my mother and other family members when I was living in a shared flat (luckily now, she can stay with me!) It's a real class act with the attitude of a three-star hotel without three-star rates—by far the most stylish hostal in Barcelona, in a quiet, non-tourist area.
I’ve also sent folks to Hosteria Grau, which is really central but has a tranquil feel. For backpacker friends who want something super cheap, I’ve suggested Hoatal Galerias Malda. It’s a former palace with simple rooms and a sweet family feel—and rates (€20 per person per night) are amazingly cheap!
I’ve recommended Fashion House to friends willing to “splurge.” Despite the somewhat cheesy name, this place is chic, comfortable and very easy-going. Its flower-covered patio really did it for me, and I imagine a morning coffee and croissant in this quaint oasis would be very relaxing. Of all the hotels I reviewed for Eurocheapo, Fashion House was my fave for location, price and services offered.
2. What’s your favorite thing about living in Barcelona?
The weather, the wine, the olives, the architecture, the beaches, the cheap and fabulous public transportation, the cultural offerings, the ‘green’ awareness, the proximity to France, the laid-back vibe, the openness of the society, the long summers, the short winters, and the fact that everywhere you go you get a darn good cup of coffee.
3. Reading material (do you recommend a guidebook?)
I love reading about the city I am visiting before heading off on a trip, and while there. For Barcelona and Spain in general I very much recommend Homage to Catalonia by Orwell and Pagan Spain by Wright. These books will give you insight into how much this country has changed in the last 30 years.
I also recommend Shadow on the Wind by Zafon for fun, as well as Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones. They’re fabulous page-turners about Barcelona’s history, both fiction.
4. Best cafe or bar.
I adore Cafe del Born for frothy coffees and desserts. Bar eSe eFe is new local spot with funky décor and nice people. I also love its microbrews on tap and free live music most nights.
5. Local tourist traps to avoid.
Most definitely La Rambla. Walk it, look at the human statues and the artisans, and then move on. Do not eat, shop or linger on La Rambla. As a local I avoid it at all costs.
6. Any other “insider” advice?
I’ve said this a lot, and maybe by now it is a common knowledge, but visitors to Barcelona really need to watch their bags and and valuables. This city is one of the worst in Europe when it comes to petty theft.
Worst spots for pick-pockets? The airport bus (or any transportation between the airport and the city—they’ll get you while you’re jet-lagged!), the beach (go in pairs, take nothing but your bikini and sunblock), the Metro and La Rambla. Barcelona is not dangerous, but you should leave your passport and money in the safe in your room. I think it’s worth it to pay more for a room with a safe.
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