From Barceloneta Beach to Plaça de Catalunya, you’ll find upmarket five-star boutique hotels beside budget B&Bs and eco-conscious guesthouses in Spain’s Catalonian capital. Not sure where to start amid Barcelona’s overpopulated hotel scene? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Violeta Boutique is the kind of small, personalised and fairly-priced hotel that you’ll want to return to again and again. The best rooms in this 19th-century building are large with high ceilings and plenty of natural light. Sightseers will be pleased to know the hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from Plaza Catalunya (the city’s main square) and full of staff who delight in sharing their knowledge of Barcelona. There are free muffins and tea available too.
Casa Gracia is the hippest place to stay in Barcelona. Walk into a reception of plants, old ironwork from another era, modern chandeliers and a glass floor looking into a speakeasy lounge beneath your feet. Move past the art deco style bar and restaurant full of locals chatting softly in Spanish to a spacious common room with brick ceilings and a fireplace. Head upstairs via the antique-style elevator, past a library full of books and a wall of mirrors to the dining rooms, where you’ll find the communal tables. Continue out to a large terrace flooded with light, lounging areas, and a space for yoga. The rooms themselves are upstairs and some rooms come equipped with balconies overlooking the bustling Passeig de Gràcia.
The eco-minded will be charmed by this green boutique hotel close to Barcelona’s Plaza Catalunya. From environmentally-friendly cleaning products to naturally sourced lavender soap and organic teas, Hostal Grau is dedicated to sustainability on every level. Meanwhile, the decor is homely and ping-pongs between boho-chic and minimalist. Walls are crisp white, the furniture is upcycled and they use crates for shelves.
This classy, avant garde hotel is one of the best mid-range options for visitors to Barcelona. Navy, white and gold hues give this chic boutique a regal feel. And the rooftop pool area, though small, is fit for royalty with its stripy four-poster sunbeds. Meanwhile, well-priced standard rooms are cosy but perfectly efficient and come with blackout curtains, bathrooms so white they’ll make you squint and beds you’ll never want to leave. Not forgetting the staff here who are willing to go that extra mile to ensure you have a great stay in the city.
The centrally located Retrome Urban Retreat is your retro-home in Barcelona. It’s cheap and comes with 15 rooms curated in ’60s and ’70s-style – think groovy patterns, copper lamps and walnut cabinets. Staff are passionate about the city and happy to point you in the direction of the best bakeries, cafes and independent shops. Rooms come equipped with vintage trinkets, record players and coffee machines – some also come with private balconies.
Luxury meets tasteful design meets Barcelona at the Renaissance Hotel. Much of the artistic elements in the rooms and throughout the building were inspired by Barcelona’s beloved Antoni Gaudí and the modernism that’s so prominent in the city. That’s why you’ll see a lot of metal with rounded corners, and carpets with Gaudí designs on them. The hotel also strives to emulate nature with lots of Mediterranean blues and mountain golds – a reflection of the surrounding ocean and nearby Montjuïc. They also installed light dimmers to replicate the effect of sunrise and sunset. Such details were meant to tempt guests to “look and look again”. With expert ‘navigators’ (who are like specialised concierges) to give local tips of the city, a chic Rumbo bar and eatery on the main floor, the Goja rooftop with views from the Sagrada Familia to the hills and the ocean, and premium rooms and junior suites, a stay at the Renaissance leaves guests feeling like they’re well taken care of.
Room Mate Emma is part of a visionary boutique hotel group that has made a big splash in Barcelona. This hotel cleverly blends future and past. Some rooms have groovy ’60s and ’70s designs, while others have space-age graphics. Gaudí would’ve been impressed with this wacky hotel, which has a lobby like the inside of a spaceship, and brightly coloured abstract communal spaces. This is one for the forward thinkers (or guests not afraid of a hallucinogenic trip).
Set in a former textile factory, this hotel is ready-made for millennials. Communal spaces are industrial-looking and full of the type of cool, mismatched furniture that you expect to see in a posh co-working space. Rooms – although snug – come with pillow menus, yoga mats and biodegradable coat hangers. Bikes are free for guests to use, there’s a rooftop pool area, and the hotel offers a nightly social hour with complimentary wine for those looking to make friends. A shuffleboard table and photo booth in the lobby will keep you entertained.
It probably doesn’t sound like a major selling point, but the H10 Metropolitan’s swirly wooden headboards are up there with the best we’ve seen. But that’s not the only reason we’ve included this swish hotel at the top of La Rambla in our round-up. The sophisticated design hotel has an unusual style – there’s an antique bike, hovering fireplace and an outdoor vertical wall garden. But the biggest prize is the tranquil rooftop pool for when you’re done with sightseeing.
The Cotton House Hotel has managed to retain some original features from when it was the headquarters of the Cotton Textile Foundation in the 19th century. It’s now a five-star unadulterated luxury hotel set in an elegant neoclassical building. The finishing touches here are what makes the hotel so special – from the chequered marble chessboard-like flooring, twirling optical-illusion-of-a-staircase and majestic ceilings that won’t fail to astound.
The reception at Hotel Pulitzer is adjacent to a large seating area surrounding a bar that is spacious and full of light – a friendly welcome after travelling. In the back on the main floor sits the Greenhouse restaurant, which is an incredibly chic space that’s mostly white, full of mirrors, windows and overflowing green plants. The restaurant itself is worth a look, even if you aren’t staying for the amazing meals on offer (which include pressed juices, warm veggie dishes, and berry compotes at breakfast). Rooms range in size, but many come equipped with balconies looking out at beautiful views of Barcelona. And the rooftop is perhaps one of the biggest draws, which often hosts live bands, DJs and a happening party. Located in Eixample, the Pulitzer is steps from the lively Placa Catalunya and minutes from La Rambla.
The hotel’s name is a tip of the hat to Gaudí, who started building Sagrada Familia in 1882. Gaudí is said to have been heavily inspired by nature and, so it seems, was the colour palette of this hotel – think earth tones and subtle greens and blues. The hotel’s terrace hosts free morning yoga on Wednesdays, as well as views over the designer’s towering Gothic cathedral just 400m (656ft) away.
Every city has at least one hipster hotel, and Barcelona’s is Soho House. This private-member’s-club-come-hotel has 57 rooms and sits opposite Port Vell on the outskirts of the Gothic Quarter. It’s facilities-rich – there’s a 36-seater theatre, flash Cowshed spa, and year-round rooftop pool – and it’s close to the beach and La Rambla. The rooms and common areas have a twee British vibe going on and if it weren’t for the blue skies and Catalonia flags draped on the buildings nearby, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were staying at a moneyed British Lord’s house in the Cotswolds.
Like your hotels clad floor-to-ceiling with gadgets? Then the Almanac is for you. This smart boutique hotel hasn’t been around long but is already well-respected in Barcelona. Designer Jaime Beriestain (a big fish in these parts) has used a wealth of textures with gold hues and oak and walnut finishes to create a sense of James Bond sophistication this hotel. If that’s not enough to tempt you in, there’s also a shallow rooftop pool, a fine Mediterranean brasserie and yoga classes.
Ernest Hemmingway, Joan Míro and The Beatles all spent some time at El Avenida Palace – not at the same time, of course. And it’s unlikely that, other than a few interior touch-ups and the addition of a rooftop pool, much has changed since. The luxury hotel is draped in old-world Catalan charm and comes with likeable staff who remember your name, traditional Spanish rooms, and the best golden staircases you’ll ever see.
If you’re looking for a high-end hotel in the artsy El Born neighbourhood, you can’t do much better than The Edition, Barcelona. Rooms here are fit for Hollywood stars, and come packed with gadgets, bespoke Gaudí-inspired furniture and mood lighting – making them hard to leave. The hotel is a Marriott/Ian Schrager (founder of famous NY nightclub Studio 54) collaboration, so it has been designed to entertain its punters. There’s also a Boardwalk Empire-style underground cabaret club, a London-esque speakeasy and a rooftop pool bar that hosts parties every week during summer.
Leon Beckenham contributed additional reporting to this article.