Uncovering Europe's best budget hotels since 2001.
By Regina W Bryan in Barcelona—
Not all hotels in Barcelona are created equal when it comes to location. While it’s true that some of the cheapest rooms can be found outside of Barcelona’s city center, this isn’t always the case. There are some great hotel deals to be had right in the center of the action.
Here are my “Top 5 hotels with amazing locations,” in no particular order:
1. Hostal Galeria Malda
Del Pi 5 1/1
I’m partial to Malda because I lived right across the street from it for a year on C/ del Pi. This area is about five minutes by foot from Pl. Catalunya, which is where you’re going to come in from the airport if you take the airport bus or train/metro combo. So it’s convenient.
However, I don’t recommend hotels that are right on Pl. Catalunya because they are noisy, pricy, and surrounded by touristy restaurants and bars. At Malda you get the close proximity to the center, but also Gothic Quarter charm and plenty of good eateries.
I also dig the fact that Malda is in an old palace (ask the owners to tell you all about it) and that there’s an original version cinema in the same building (Cines Malda).
There are many wonderful shops in this area, and lots of bars and restaurants. Explore the side-streets to find non-touristy cafes. I recommend the tapas bar and bakery on C/ del Pi (you’ll see them, they’re the only ones) which have fair prices and are popular with locals. I also love Cala de Vermut, nearby the Cathedral, around the corner from Malda for tapas. It’s excellent, albeit tiny!
2. Hotel del Mar
Plaza Palacio, 19
As the name suggests, Hotel del Mar is near the beach. This is the place to book from May to October when it’s still possible to swim in the Mediterranean or lounge on the sand. Staying at Hotel del Mar you’ve got easy access to all of the seafood restaurants and tapas joints in La Barceloneta, but at the same time you’re close to the Born neighborhood and its vibrant nightlife scene. The Born or La Ribera also has a lot to offer in restaurants, cafes and bars. I recommend Set del Born (Esparteria, 7 ) and Paco Pizza (Allada Vermell, 11.).
This area is also where you’ll find Santa Maria de Mar church, a worship place built by the people for the people (read “Cathedral of the Sea,” Ildefonso Falcones, a book about the church). Nearby Santa Maria del Mar is the extremely popular Picasso Museum as well as the Chocolate and Textile Museums.
3. Hosteria Grau
One of my preferred hotels, Grau also has a fun location, though it could be noisy if you have a street-facing room. Located on C/Tallers, Grau is just off Pl. Catalunya, but not on it and therefore out of the hubbub.
Grau is in El Raval, but not deep in, which is good. As much as I like to go out in El Raval, as unique bars and clubs in this area are plentiful, I really can’t recommend the area in my top 5. Why? Because way too many folks get robbed there. So, although Grau is sort of in El Raval, it’s on a very busy street that is well-lit most of the night. It seems pretty safe.
On the same block as Grau find breakfast at one of the bakeries lining C/Tallers, or lunch at Tallers 76 (on Tallers, 76), which offers a delicious set menu Mon-Fri. There’s a kebab shop right next to Tallers 76 which does awesome falafel for about $4, a shoestring traveler’s dream.
First of all, this hostel rocks. The staff there are friendly and have made a super comfortable environment for travelers. Second, their location is “da bomb.” They’re on a little side-street off the plaza in front of Barcelona’s main Cathedral, meaning it’s quiet but also right in the center of the city.
A few doors down from Ítaca you’ll find Cala de Vermut, which has some of the metropolis’ top tapas. There are also several fine boutiques selling clothing created by local designers on C/Ripoll, a juice bar and a wine bar. Since this side-street is sort of hidden, these spots are less frequented by tourists than all of the bars one street over by the Cathedral or in the other direction on Via Laietana.
What else? Crossing over Via Laietana from Ítaca, you’ll get to Palau de la Musica Catalana in about three minutes. This is one of my favorite Barcelona sights! Don’t miss it! Venturing further in, behind Palau de la Musica and down the Sant Pere streets (there are a few of them, “Baix,” “Mitja,” etc) you’ll come across local bars and inexpensive eateries.
P.S. Santa Caterina, one of Barcelona’s most lovely markets, is also just around the corner from Ítaca!
5. Hotel Astoria
Doubles: From €70
All of the hotels I’ve listed above are in the old center of the city, which is where many of Barcelona’s main sites are located. However, there’s more to Barcelona than the Gothic which is why I’m listing Hotel Astoria as my number 5. It’s way up on Ave. Diagonal, in the high-rent district of town. Staying here will give you a whole different perspective of the city, which is more “local,” more residential. The hotel is also close by the Gaudí buildings on Pssg. de Gracia as well as the posh shopping options on the same strip (check out Vinçon for a fun souvenir).
From Astoria you can graze along the chic bars and restaurants on C/ d’Enric Granados or head up to Gracia (take the green line on the metro to “Fontana”) for a night out in one of the city’s most happening “barris.” While this location is not that easy to get to from the airport, it’s worth the effort.
Also in our guide: These five hotels have all been reviewed by Regina in our guide to Barcelona’s best hotels. If you’re heading to Barcelona, you should definitely check out all of our reviews, plus information on neighborhoods and budget travel articles.