Flights, hotel, suitcase – the three essentials when planning a holiday, right? Or is it Flights, apartment, suitcase? Most of us automatically think hotel but renting an apartment can be cheaper and have many benefits.
Barcelona is a popular travel destination year round thanks to its wonderful climate so hotel occupancy rates are consistently up around 80-85 percent. This can make getting your first choice hotel and/or a discounted rate challenging. It also means that hotels can charge high rates per night because of the high demand.
By contrast, apartments to rent are plentiful and usually work out cheaper per night depending how long you stay. Apartments for rent are also often available in areas where there are fewer hotels so you’ll experience real Barcelona and not just the tourist spots.
The other great advantage of staying in an apartment is self-catering which works out considerably cheaper than dining out or room service for all your meals; which means you can shop like a local at the Boqueria market and then spend a relaxing evening at home feasting after a day of seeing the sights.
Other advantages include privacy and facilities for washing clothes and so on. The downside is that most apartment buildings in Barcelona don’t have lifts so you’ll have to carry your luggage upstairs – keep this in mind when choosing which floor you’re on.
But how and where do you rent an apartment in Barcelona?
The internet has many sites for holiday rental apartments. Most of them have good maps and photographs. It can take a bit of surfing but it’s well worth it when you can arrive in Barcelona, unpack in your own space and have your home away from home. Just make sure you are dealing with a good company or owner by sending an email or phoning them before leaving any sort of deposit. Sometimes it’s better to pay a little more to make sure there are no nasty surprises when you turn up.
It’s also important to pick the right area. The main places visitors to the city choose to stay are:
- Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter): this is a great location, very central. It’s the Old Town with narrow, twisting, largely pedestrianized streets. It has many restaurants and bars but is a tourist district so it can be more expensive and also quite noisy at night.
- Las Ramblas: this is the main boulevard running through town and down to the beach. It can be noisy and again the prices will be hiked up for tourists.
- Beach: All Barcelona’s beaches are about ten minutes by metro to the center of town so this can be a great location to stay if you want to take advantage of Barcelona’s beachside culture.
- Example: A great neighbourhood of cafes and bars just north of Las Ramblas. But avoid the main roads as they can be noisy with traffic.
- Especially avoid: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, which is one of the busiest roads in the city; Passeig de Gracia; Avinguda Paral.lel; Avinguda Diagona; and any others that look wide and straight on the map!
Now all you need is a bicycle, or a T10 metro pass and you’ll be living like a local.