Barcelona is a compelling city by many measures. Unique history, amazing architecture, easy access to the Mediterranean, and great food. After our time on Mallorca, we decided to spend a few days in Barcelona before returning home. I often do fast visits when I travel solo, but this is a family trip. And of course, with a young child, the pace of travel is quite different. It an adjustment, but well worth it to experience this as a family.
Sriram recently posted about his full day in Barcelona. Scott has also written about his travels to Barcelona. My review will be a little different, just covering the highlights of our time there. We spent a long weekend in town, and got to see quite a bit at a more relaxed pace.
Barcelona worked well for us as it is just a short hop from Mallorca, with frequent flights. We opted for Vueling. Not usually a fan of low cost carriers, but the price was right, and we paid a small amount extra to confirm seats together, and for our checked bags, and it was perfectly fine. Flight was on time, which was our main concern. I booked a car in advance that would take us to our hotel. The driver wasn’t waiting, but it only took a few minutes to coordinate.
I’ve been to Barcelona before, but this was the first time for my wife and daughter. It has been several years, so while I have seen some of the sights, I was glad to have another opportunity to visit. I knew I wanted to stay at the iconic W hotel out on the beach. There were cash and points availability, so we spent one night there, and I confirmed an upgrade using a Suite Night Award.
Our stay at the W Barcelona/Hotel Vela
This hotel is an iconic sight along the Barceloneta district, near the port. It isn’t particularly convenient to most tourist sites in town. I’m glad we stayed here, but one night was sufficient for us. This hotel is really an architectural marvel. A large sail (hence the local nickname, Hotel Vela) shape, overlooking the sea and very modern design typical of W hotels.
Our assigned room was a Studio Suite on a lower floor. 2 rooms, with a king sized bed, and a living room with a sofa bed. One large bathroom and a small powder room near the entrance. Very flashy design, with lots of lights. The throw pillow on the bed had an image that looked like a female Dali impersonator getting felt up. I enjoyed the very modern room, a little more flashy than me, but nice for our needs.
I’m too old or not cool enough to fit in very well at most W hotels, and this one is definitely for the trendy crowd. This hotel is fine, and worth a stay if in Barcelona, but my favorite W is still the W Hong Kong.
We chose breakfast for the platinum amenity, and it was served in the lobby restaurant. A pretty good buffet, with a diverse mix of options. Jamón Iberico is one of those things I eat entirely too much of when in Spain, and I was happy to have some toast with jamón as part of my breakfast.
Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, which was annoying, but we just explored the beach area. Nudity on beaches in Europe is more common than here in the US, and as we walked along the beach, we were grateful that our daughter didn’t comment on the man ‘hanging out’ by himself on the beach. It is a long walk from the W back into the city, but we enjoyed exploring from here for our first day. The aquarium isn’t too far away, and it was a nice spot to spend some time. We returned to the W to check out in the afternoon, but not before someone needed a nap. Busy day already:
After checking out of the W, we got a taxi and headed to our hotel for the rest of our time in Barcelona, the more centrally located Le Meridien, on Las Ramblas.
Le Meridien Barcelona
We were able to confirm an upgrade to a Corner Suite, which was another nice use of Suite Night Awards. I’ve had better luck using these this year. Mostly using them for family trips. We again had a separate bedroom, and a sofa bed in the living room for our daughter. Scott also visited this hotel, and has a more thorough review. While I enjoyed the W, the Le Meridien is a much better option for those interested in seeing the highlights of Barcelona. I’ve always enjoyed my stays at the Le Meridien brand, and this property was no exception. A great location, and a nice enough space. I felt more at home than at the W.
The Le Meridien is a more typical European hotel, with smaller rooms, but most public spaces are modern. As with all Le Meridien hotels, there is a lot of local art all over. Breakfast here was nice enough, in the ground floor restaurant. And there are churros con chocolate, so that’s a win.
Best of all, the Le Meridien is right on Las Ramblas, with lots of great restaurants and other sites nearby. La Boqueria Market is a few blocks away, and there are a few metro stops slightly further. It was a great base for our time getting out and about.
As mentioned, we visited the Aquarium, which was good for kids of all ages. I didn’t get to do as much Gaudi touring as I was hoping to, on this tripbut I don’t think my kid would have appreciated to too much. We did make it up to La Sagrada Familia, which is a must stop. My kid was more interested in a hot dog we bought in a stand nearby and the FC Barcelona store/museum across the street, oh well.
Another spot we visited is Montjuïc Castle. From here, there are excellent views of the city and the sea. To get here, we took public transit. A combination of metro then a funicular and a gondola got us up to the top of the mountain where the castle is located. The journey to the castle is part of the adventure, but the result is well worth it. Interesting history there, plus great views.
Barcelona food and drink
Just steps from the Le Meridien is the Boqueria market, which is a must stop for all kinds of tasty treats. Meat, fresh vegetables, and more.
While Barcelona isn’t really a beer town, I usually seek out what I can, and we found a few beer bars that I’d recommend. Garage Beer Company is a nice little craft brewery, and the decor was fun too. Besides their beers, they have some snacks and light meals available.
We also visited Kælderkold which is a beer bar with a nice selection of craft beers, cocktails, and bar snacks.
Both of these places were an easy walk from Le Meridien. Another fun dining spot we found was La Bombeta. This was a little closer to the W, on some narrow streets, and it took some effort to find it. No credit cards, and minimal English spoken, but the bombas were so good. Stuffed mashed potato balls, with a spicy sauce. Amazing..
Final thoughts on Barcelona
I really enjoy visiting here. Happy to have stayed in the fancy W hotel, but the Le Meridien was a superior choice for most tourist activities. A better location, and much less pretentious. Barcelona is easy to get around, with good transport options, and usually lots of space to walk.
Do you like Barcelona as much as we did?