Neighborhoods crisscrossed with winding alleys dotted with ancient architecture, streets lined with outdoor tables primed for all-day wining and dining, and a long list of sightseeing gems to be checked off your list — Barcelona really has it all. Because there’s so much to be indulged in in terms of Spanish food, drink, and culture, the best way to stay is at a 4 star hotel, where you’ll strike the perfect balance between luxury and economy.
Where to stay at a 4 star hotel in Barcelona? Important neighborhoods at a glance:
Gothic Quarter: Fairytale cityscapes & La Rambla
Eixample & El Born: Central, happening, & shopping
Gràcia & Sagrada Familia: Sightseeing, bohemian vibes, & international cuisine
Gràcia and the area surrounding Sagrada Familia are imbued with an old-world sensibility; this is where you’ll get a real feel for 19th-century Spain while hanging out at super trendy tapas and pinchos bars sipping natural wine. Antoni Gaudi has his roots deep in the area; everywhere you turn you’ll see another one of his famous buildings, sometimes subtly embellished with his Catalan Modernist flair, and other times totally otherworldly and over the top, like at Park Güell, located at the northern edge of Gràcia. When staying in Gràcia, you won’t have much reason to leave — the neighborhood is walkable, safe, beautiful, and filled with affordable restaurants and bars, many of which are vegetarian-friendly and almost all of which serve up delicious tapas like patatas bravas (potatoes with aioli), Iberian ham on bread, and fresh calamari. The 4 star hotels in this northern part of Barcelona boast an elegant ambiance, modern amenities, and perfect locations surrounded by Spain’s impressive architecture and always a stone’s throw from your new favorite store, whether a trendy boutique shop or a bustling fish market. The Sagrada Familia is a church like you’ve never seen. Towering over its square near the center of the city, it appears in the sky almost juvenile — and so fundamentally Gaudi it’s palpable. Under construction since 1882, there’s nothing more exciting than participating in the centuries-long venture as a spectator, to be able to witness a moment in its ever-evolving form. A 4 star hotel directly adjacent affords perfect views of the project in action.
Poblenou: Seaside bliss & start-up culture
Debatably the best thing about Barcelona is that it is simultaneously a beach town and a trendy metropolis, an ancient city and an architectural hotspot, and traditional manifestation of Spanish culture as well as an international melting pot. One of the places you can feel this most potently is in the eastern seaside district of Poblenou. The northern part of this vast neighborhood is characterized by converted warehouses and sprawling factory spaces turned start-up offices and design showrooms, in addition to the iconic Jean Nouvel-designed Torre Agbar skyscraper. Poblenou used to be the city’s industrial hub before falling into decline in the mid 20th century; it has since undergone complete renovation, partly as a result of the development preceding the 1992 Olympics, and it continues to boom as a tech hub. The beachside area comprises the sunbather’s favorite Bogatell Beach, the family-friendly Platja de la Nova Icària, and the clothes-optional Platja de la Mar Bella. All located near the city center, the 4 star hotels in Poblenou pride themselves on providing sweeping views over the Mediterranean, innovative design concepts to reflect the contemporary spirit of the area, and access to all the neighborhood top hangouts. Some even include full in-house spa centers, which are a great addition to any stay.
Barcelona is easily accessed and quite easy to navigate once there. Barcelona’s airport (BCN) is located 13 kilometers from the city. You can take a taxi downtown for around 35 EUR, or the bus or train for much less (5-10 EUR). The trip takes around 30 minutes. Note that there are two other airports near Barcelona, in Girona and Reus, which are around 100 kilometers from the city — there are ways to get from here to Barcelona, but they are long and can be expensive. Budget airlines fly more often into these airports, but the hassle may cancel out the savings. If you do choose this route, book your transfer ahead.