This entry was prompted by my mate Greg, who is here soon with his 10 year old boy. Like many people he asked where is the best place to stay and it dawned on me that there isn’t a right answer and it depends on who you are and what you are looking for… If there is one thing I am an expert on, it’s the patently f***ing obvious.Furthermore if you are a regular reader of the site some of this will sound familiar (I believe that’s the polite way of saying “lazy”) At the end of the blog I’ll post a couple of links for good hotel sites which will let you have a browse around.
First up let’s tackle the boys/girls weekend away. The ideal place to stay for a group of you hell bent on carnage is your bloody local pub but I realise that’s not going to happen. Let’s be honest, groups like that are not here to drink in the culture, sample local customs and cuisine. They are here to get out their gourd on booze and blow and have a romantic liason with a plumber/hairdresser who lives a 30 quid taxi ride from their front door. With carnage the only item on the agenda then accomodation wise anything a couple of minutes walk from Las Ramblas is what you are looking for. The pubs, bars and restaurants in that area are set up for large groups and will be accomodating of the inevitable knob-end behaviour you will indulge in.
Now onto the “romantic break” demographic. As a Scotsman I am mebbes not best placed to comment on romance. There are places in Lanarkshire where the “open handed slap” is deemed romantic, and we are a nation where a disturbing number of men believe “brace yersel’ hen” is foreplay. If it is your first visit then my advice is very similar to that for the groups. Wandering up and down the Ramblas, exploring Barrio Gotico and shopping on Passeig De Gracia is a perfectly good way to spend your first couple of days in the city. If it’s not your first visit and you are confident using public transport then I would suggest looking at Eixample, the area between Pl. Universitat and Pl Espanya. There are a number of nice hotels in this area and being a little bit away from the madness lends itself to a more relaxed trip.Streets like Carrer Diputacion are also well served with decent restaurants and some funky little bars which are a welcome change from the chain-feel restaurants and Irish Bars you’ll encounter in the centre.
The next recommendation works just as well for people with young kids and those of more mature years who are looking for as relaxing a trip as possible. (I realise that the idea of “relaxing” with children is a stretch but bear with me) I’ve written fairly extensively about the area surrounding Pl Espanya, mainly because that’s where I live. Despite this I feel it has a lot to offer. For the more mature visitor it’s much less full on than the central areas and very well served with bars and restaurants for those whose potential bladder control issues are nearer the old age end of the scale rather than alcohol overindulgence end.
One thing I know about young children is that, on holiday, they are even more annoying and a bigger drain on finances than normal. One of the great things about this area (described as Sants Montjuic on Hotel sites) is you are on the doorstep of Montjuic and Parc Miro. In the case of the former you can easily spend a half a day exploring the park, the Olympic Stadium and some sensational views of the city without the weans costing you the price of a healthy kidney. Furthermore, at night there are plenty of bars around Pl Espanya where you can sit outside on the terrace enjoying a well earned snort again without it costing you a fortune. The relative absence of footpads looking to relieve you of your bags and wallets is another welcome feature Please note the use of the term “relative” as with every area in the city, there be robbers but you don’t have to be quite so vigilant in both Espanya and Eixample but that doesn’t mean you can leave wallets, phones etc. out in plain sight.
Places like Bodega Momumental, Kikiriki and Rekons that I have covered in earlier posts are all well worth a visit.
Incidentally, with regards to the last recco I was there the other day and had a “If Greggs met Pret A Manger” experience.. I essentially had a Steak Bake Salad and I have to say the mix of pastry products and fruit was not as horrific as it sounds. In truth being fortified with their gin laced vermouth may have been a factor.
Just to round this off, for those concerned about being too far out of the city it bears repeating that the transport system here is cheap, clean and reliable. From Pl Espanya you can be at Pl Catalunya and the Ramblas by metro in 5 minutes and 90c later. And for a more sedate and family friendly experience it’s a price worth paying.
Hotel Sites that are excellent for special offers and allow you to refine your search by area/price
Trip advisor good site for deals but also for the forum a real useful tool if you need information on something specific
And one of my favourite hotels, ideal for a couple Banys Oriental