The Ultimate Guide for Where to Stay in Barcelona
Wondering where to stay in Barcelona? One thing that makes Barcelona a top tourist destination is the sheer variety of experiences it offers you, all within a relatively small metropolitan area, and finding the right place to stay can be confusing. This guide written by a local helps you discover the personalities of the neighborhoods of the city so you can choose one to suit.
- Our neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide on where to stay in Barcelona.
- Bedding down in Barri Gòtic
- Enjoying El Born
- Considering El Raval
- Discovering L’Esquerra de l’Eixample
- Do some time in La Dreta de L’Eixample
- Gravitating to Gràcia
- Our preferred hotels in Gràcia
- Loving La Barceloneta
- Our preferred hotels in La Barceloneta
- Pondering Poblenou?
- Our preferred hotels in Poble Nou
- Partying in Poble-sec
- Our preferred hotels in Poble Sec
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Our neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide on where to stay in Barcelona.
Whether you are looking for a beach, mountain, high-end dining, a bustling city center, or something a little more rough and ready, this amazing city has an area with your name written on it.
Bedding down in Barri Gòtic
The old city is the most obvious place to start, and, looking at the map, Barcelona’s gothic quarter is found to the right of one of the world’s most famous thoroughfares, Las Ramblas.
What’s it like to stay in Barri Gòtic?
I am an occasional visitor to this part of town now, but even after living in Barcelona for many years, its labyrinthine streets and hole-in-the-wall shops still seem other-worldly.
During the day, it is a busy area populated by tourists looking for the Plaça del Sol, the Roman ruins, the city center’s best-known churches, and its impressive Gothic cathedral.
At night, Barri Gotic attracts both tourists and locals to its plethora of cool bars, live music venues, and hip restaurants.
This last point is something to remember if you are not looking for the city’s nightlife.
It’s easy to find banners where locals declare “Volem dormir!” (“We want to sleep!”) and the combination of rowdy drinkers, tiny streets, and old buildings means that a good night’s sleep might not be guaranteed.
Who should stay in Barri Gotic?
Barri Gòtic is ideal for anyone looking to be in the thick of the action, with many of the city’s best-known sights within easy walking distance.
Our preferred hotels in Barri Gotic
Splurge – Ohla Barcelona
Ohla Barcelona is close to the Palau de la Música Concert Hall, the Cathedral, and the Ramblas. Has a Rooftop Pool and Bar with city views. The rooms feature modern furnishings and some have views over the Gothic Quarter. Perfect for honeymooners who love modern design.
5 Star – Kimpton Vividora
The room top offers a large pool, and bar and is a perfect spot to watch the sunset. You are 15 minutes walk from the beach and right in the heart of the Gothic Quarter just minutes from Las Rambla. Perfect for lovers of luxury!
Apartments – Catedral Bas Apartments by Aspasios
Catedral Bas Apartments by Aspasios – One and two-bedroom apartments are perfect for couples or families. They are only a 2-minute walk from Barcelona Cathedral and 4 minutes from Plaza Catalunya. The apartments feature a kitchen, comfortable living space, and balcony. The apartments are wheelchair accessible and the property has an elevator. There is a small rooftop pool and terrace perfect for a refreshing dip after sightseeing.
Boutique – Wittmore Hotel – Adults Only
Wittmore Hotel – This boutique hotel is only 400 m from the Picasso Museum and offers modern stylish adults-only accommodation. The gorgeously decorated king rooms and suites are sophisticated and comfortable. There is a beautiful garden courtyard and stunning city views from the roof terrace making the Wittmore somewhere you will feel at home in no time. The staff goes above and beyond to make sure guests have everything they need.
Budget – The Moods Catedral Hostal Boutique
The Moods Catedral Hostal Boutique – this is another adult’s only property. It offers two styles of rooms, interior rooms for those on a tight budget and exterior rooms with balconies and gorgeous views.
There are no bells and whistles here, but you get great value for money and excellent service from the team at reception.
Enjoying El Born
On the other side of the traffic that throbs along the Via Laietana is El Born, Barri Gòtic’s twin brother. While once perhaps something of a no-go area, the last couple of decades have seen El Born become increasingly fashionable.
What’s it like to stay in El Born?
As with the gothic quarter, much of its charm comes from its quaint narrow streets and vibrant nightlife, but it also boasts several tourist attractions.
The Picasso Museum is a must-see for anyone with a passing interest in the Málaga master, although it should be born in mind (pun intended) that the museum largely features early and late works, and much of his Cubist phase is conspicuous by its absence.
On the Passeig de Colón, the Estació de França train station is probably one of the most beautiful in Barcelona, capturing a bygone age of rail travel. It’s easy to imagine the thousands of painful goodbyes that have taken place under its elegant archways.
The far-right end of El Born takes you to the Parc de la Ciutadella, which is well worth a visit.
A beautiful green space in which locals practice any number of leisure activities, from picnics to tightrope walking.
The park also contains the zoology museum in the imposing Castell dels Tres Dragons, a monumental fountain worked on by a young Gaudí, a boating lake, the Catalan parliament, and – for now – Barcelona Zoo.
The port begins at the bottom end of this neighborhood, which makes it a good all-around option for visitors wanting a mix of the city center and seaside.
One of the best hotels in the area is Motel One Barcelona-Ciutadella, which offers jaw-dropping views of the old town center from its rooftop terrace.
Who should stay in El Born?
El Born boasts a great central location, the welcome oxygen of the local park, major attractions within easy walking distance, and the port, which opens up a natural route to the beach.
Our preferred hotels in El Born
4-star BNB – Factory Gardens Barcelona
Factory Gardens Barcelona – is a small property that seems more like a bed-and-breakfast with a great communal area where you can help yourself to snacks and drinks anytime. Breakfast is also available 24 hours a day!
Rooms feature a king-size memory foam bed and the roof features a very cool garden that provides a perfect escape from the busy city streets.
Apartament Colon Bcn 130 mts 2 Dormitorios Port Vell
Apartament Colon – This large 2-bedroom apartment sleeps 5 and has everything you need for a family or group of friends for a stay in Barcelona. Transport is just minutes away and you can walk to many of the key sites in the city. The apartment’s balcony has views of Barcelona Port and La Barceloneta.
Budget – Pension Ciudadela
Pension Ciudadela – The rooms here are on the smaller side, but they are spotless and well-appointed. There is a shared dining area with a fridge, microwave, and free coffee & tea at any time. Some rooms have bathrooms just outside the room which gives you a bit more of a saving. Family rooms that sleep 3 are also available.
Located opposite Barcelona’s França Train Station, it’s well placed for exploring.
Considering El Raval
On the left-hand side of La Rambla is El Raval. While nothing as sketchy as some locals would have you believe, this is still an area that has resisted gentrification – and that offers advantages and drawbacks.
What’s it like?
Let’s focus on the positives: along with Barri Gòtic and El Born, El Raval is one of the best neighborhoods for engaging with the history of the city.
If you start from the Plaça de Catalunya-end of the Rambla, just by following your nose you can find a wealth of intriguing interconnected streets.
Carrer de Tallers is one of the city center’s most rock and roll streets, with guitar shops, tattoo parlors, and rock clubs rubbing shoulders with souvenir shops and Irish pubs.
Heading downtown, there are a number of hip tapas bars and cafés waiting to be discovered in hidden squares.
Two of my favorites are easy to miss: Bar Central Raval is tucked away in a secluded garden, and El Jardí, a self-styled oasis in the middle of the city connected to the historic building that houses the Catalonia Library and is located on the charming Carrer del Hospital.
Now, a word of warning: I have never had any problems in this area, but it does have a certain atmosphere, familiar to many cities, which tells you to keep your wits about you.
The plus side of that is that you can still find budget accommodation. In El Raval, it’s just as easy to come across a fantastic hostel as it is to find a high-end five-star stay.
For those looking for something in between, Casa Camper is one of the best boutique hotels in the city center, with funky rooms, a pool hall, and a cocktail terrace.
Who’s it for?
El Raval is an excellent choice for young people: it has both the proximity to the old city center and the edginess of a real, working-class neighborhood.
Our preferred hotels in El Ravel
Splurge – Le Meridien Barcelona
Le Meridien Barcelona – If your trip to Barcelona includes spoiling your pet, Le Meridien welcomes them with open arms. The hotel, frequented by celebrities, has an on-site spa with a hot tub/Jacuzzi and steam room. From the luxurious king rooms to the Grand Terrace Suites, you can’t go wrong here.
4 star – Hotel 1898
Hotel 1898 – is a special property. The building (1881) has heritage status and was once the headquarters of the General Philippines Tobacco Company and was designed by Catalan architect Josep Oriol Mestres.
The rooftop terrace is the perfect place to watch a Barcelona sunset and then head up the next morning and start the day with a swim. While the rooftop pool is great, it’s the underground pool built in what was once a coal bunker that blew us away. It is a stunning space and offers access for those with disabilities.
Unique – Sixties Ramblas
Sixties Ramblas – is a fun property with a strong vintage vibe right in the middle of the action. From the funky foyer with a full-size Seat 600 (car) to the bar and pool table. This hotel is a lot of fun.
Each air-conditioned room at Sixties Ramblas features a TV and a private bathroom. Most rooms have a balcony.
The hotel is just 2 minute walk from the Drassanes metro station. Plaza Catalunya Square is about 10 minutes away and you are surrounded by bars and restaurants. This is a fun property and perfect for those who love to dine close to home.
Discovering L’Esquerra de l’Eixample
Moving uptown now, L’Eixample (“lay-SHOM-pla”) as it’s typically known for short, is the area directly above El Raval, but its look and feel are entirely different.
What is L’Esquerra de L’Eixample like?
A world away from the old town’s higgledy-piggledy historic streets, L’Eixample is where the city’s modern grid system begins, and its character is perhaps defined by the gorgeous high street Passeig de Gràcia to its right and the prosperous Avinguda Diagonal above it.
Passeig de Gràcia is a must for any visitor to Barcelona, allowing you to see two of Gaudí’s masterpieces, La Pedrera and Casa Millà, in quick succession.
Like La Rambla, it is a street that can be enjoyed for free, with both the contents of the buildings and the structures themselves a constant source of interest.
Luxury hotels abound in this area, as do some of the city’s most emblematic shops and restaurants. The Mandarin Oriental hotel has one of the famous rooftop pools with views of the city center and Montjuïc.
The area is also arguably Barcelona’s most gay-friendly district, with many bars, cafés, and clubs proudly sporting the rainbow flag.
Who should stay in L’Esquerra de L’Eixample?
L’Esquerra de L’Eixample is an ideal place to base your stay in Barcelona if you want to be close to the city center without being totally in Tourist Central. You will hear plenty of English speakers around, but bars and clubs feel less touristy than further downtown.
Do some time in La Dreta de L’Eixample
If I tell you that esquerra means “left” in Catalan, you can guess that La Dreta de L’Eixample is on the right-hand side of Passeig de Gràcia.
What is La Dreta de L’Eixample like?
This area is somewhat functional compared to some of its more illustrious neighbors, but it has a few attractions of its own as well as offers easy access to neighboring areas.
La Sagrada Familia and the Hospital de Sant Pau are found in this area.
For any architectural buffs, there is the obvious attraction of being just a short walk from these two modern masterpieces.
Staying near La Sagrada Familia does not mean breaking the bank. Hotel Sagrada Familia offers modern rooms and an unbeatable location, a couple of hundred yards from the basilica.
Uptown from La Dreta de L’Eixample is Gràcia and downtown is the beach.
Barcelona’s buses often have “vertical” routes, which means that La Dreta de L’Eixample is particularly blessed with its transport links.
Speaking of which, whether you stay on the left or right-hand side of town, Passeig de Gràcia offers a direct, cheap train to Barcelona El Prat airport.
Who’s it for?
All things considered, La Dreta de L’Eixample offers a convenient hub to visit a number of different areas and may prove attractive to the visitor looking for a less touristy, more local vibe.
Gravitating to Gràcia
Uptown from La Dreta de L’Eixample is Gràcia.
What’s it like staying in Gràcia?
Once a separate village, the area was largely unknown to tourists until the early 2000s.
Today, the area is alive with both locals and immigrants, with many European ex-pats attracted by its bohemian airs.
A tour of Gràcia’s squares is a very simple way to see the best of what the area has to offer: tiny streets which seem pedestrianized until a motorbike whizzes past, children improvising games of football in the least likely of spaces, and restaurants that cater for a wide range of cuisines.
My typical stops in Gràcia are A Casa Portuguesa for Portuguese custard tarts, the Cine Verdi cinema for a wonderful mix of blockbuster and arty films, and La Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, the pick of the area’s squares, with its eye-catching clock tower and town hall.
Gràcia is also a neighborhood that rewards the visitor with surprises.
As well as hosting an amazing festival in August, in which many of the locals adorn their streets with ingenious homemade decorations, Gràcia is the area in which you are most likely to stumble upon a casteller (human castle) or a small-scale music festival.
Uptown from the center of Gràcia is Park Güell.
To the surprise of many tourists, Park Güell is actually perched on top of a hill, so if it’s on your list of must-sees, staying in Gràcia makes a lot of sense.
You can catch the 116 bus del Barri, the little bus that could, from various locations in Gràcia, and on a hot day, that is a smart alternative to making the walk.
While there are few hotels in the area, there is Casa Gracia Barcelona Hostel, a fantastic hostel close to Avinguda Diagonal. It boasts an in-house bar, elegant traditional rooms, and an enormous communal kitchen.
Who’s it for?
All in all, Gràcia is a fantastic location for both families and anyone looking for an old-town vibe in a major city.
Our preferred hotels in Gràcia
Splurge – Hotel Casa Fuster G.L Monumento
Hotel Casa Fuster G.L Monumento – A night at the five-star Hotel Casa Fuster G.L Monumento is your chance to stay in a classic modernist UNESCO World Heritage-listed building. The rooftop terrace offers stunning views over Gracia with a small pool and a jazz bar.
Located on Passeig de Gracia Avenue, this is a beautiful part of the city to call home, even just for a few days.
4 star – Radisson Blu 1882
Radisson Blu 1882 – is a beautifully designed property with one of the larger rooftop pools in the city. Located 400m or 10 minutes walk from La Sagrada Familia. Triple and family rooms are available and the modern, uncluttered design is gorgeous.
Apartments – Eric Vökel Boutique Apartments – BCN Suites
Eric Vökel Boutique Apartments – BCN Suites – These affordable modern Scandinavian style 1 and two-bedroom apartments are very spacious with either gardens or terraces available. They include amenities like dishwashers and washing machines so a great choice for longer stays. Less than 10 min walk to La Sagrada Familia and nearest metro stop.
Budget – Hotel Ronda Lesseps
Hotel Ronda Lesseps – is 200 m from Barcelona’s Plaza Lesseps. These are no frills but modern rooms that offer all necessary amenities. The family deluxe rooms with 2 sofa beds and in a separate space a large double. A great choice for groups or families.
Loving La Barceloneta
For many people visiting Barcelona, the ability to combine a city break and beach holiday is a huge plus, and La Barceloneta is the most centrally located of all Barcelona’s beaches.
What’s it like to stay in La Barceloneta?
The old line is that Barcelona was once an industrial city that lived “with its back to the sea” but this former fishing village was transformed with the 1992 Olympics and has been drawing in beach lovers by the thousands ever since.
Today, La Barceloneta’s sea front and port boast seafood restaurants, burger bars, and taverns that retain some of the rough and ready charms of the old neighborhood.
Barceloneta beach is generally not favored by locals – it is routinely crowded and the water can be tainted by the nearby port, but it makes for excellent people watching.
A walk along the seafront will take you past rollerbladers, body-builders, and even naturists.
At the south end of the beach is the W, an amazing hotel shaped like a ship’s sail and offering a photo-friendly exclamation mark at the end of the beachfront.
The W, complete with its rooftop swimming pool, may be out of most visitors’ price range, but the budget traveler can opt to have a drink in its bar.
The prices are exactly what you would expect from a high-end hotel, but the unique view of the glorious expanse of the ocean makes a €12 beer seem almost acceptable.
Heading in the other direction towards Port Olympic and Ciutadella, you can find some of the city’s more tourist-friendly options for nightlife: clubs like Opium are frequently rammed with tourists and Casino Barcelona has a suitably luxurious and international feel.
Who should stay in La Barceloneta?
If Barcelona to you means at least a little beach time, La Barceloneta is the perfect spot for sun, sea, and sand… without being too detached from the other tourist sites.
Our preferred hotels in La Barceloneta
Splurge – W Barcelona
W Barcelona – More than a hotel, W Barcelona has become a symbol of the city. The ocean views and hotel facilities are hard to beat. Two rooftop pools and special occasion “wow” suites make this the perfect choice for a honeymoon or landmark celebration.
Apartments – Lodging Apartments Barceloneta Beach
Lodging Apartments Barceloneta Beach – With not one but two beaches within walking distance the apartments at Lodging are bright and airy with full kitchens, washing machines, and everything you need for a self-contained break in Barcelona.
Staying on the coast but heading further away from the city, you will find Poblenou.
What’s it like to stay in Poblenou?
The name literally means “New Town” and that gives you an idea of its attraction: it is almost a self-contained resort, just a ten-minute metro ride from the city center.
It is arguably the best neighborhood in Barcelona for young families, as it offers both a wide beach and a leafy, charming main road: La Rambla de Poblenou.
While this area has taken off in recent years, it retains a lot of its local character.
Alongside the more international eating and drinking options, you will find soon spot the queue forming outside of El Tío Ché, one of the city’s oldest horchata joints.
For those preferring something a little stronger, choose any beach bar that takes your fancy for a mojito or caipirinha.
There are a number of chain hotels in the surrounding streets. For those looking for a luxury hotel, The Level at Melia Barcelona Sky is a five-star resort five minutes walk from the beach.
Who’s Poblenou suited to?
Poble Nou is the ideal area if you want to be at one remove from the busier side of town, while still being in a charming area close to the coast.
Our preferred hotels in Poble Nou
Splurge – The Level at Melia Barcelona Sky
The Level at Melia Barcelona Sky – If you feel like pampering yourself between bursts of sightseeing, then the Level at Melia Barcelona Sky is a fabulous choice. They offer free access to an on-site spa, which includes a sauna, Turkish baths, a bi-thermal shower, and a heated pool with a whirlpool. The on-site bar, Skyline 24, offers views over the city. The property has a large outdoor pool with poolside cabanas.
This hotel is a brilliant choice for a honeymoon or special occasion.
4 star – The Hoxton, Poblenou
The facilities at the Hoxton are outstanding. Top of the list is one of the best new rooftop bars in the city. The bar has a Mexican with an outdoor pool with cabanas and one of the best rooftop bars in the city. The bar also has expansive views, there’s a large on-site restaurant, the nearest metro station is only 3 mins away, and you’re 2km from the beach.
Apartments – Lugaris Rambla
Lugaris Rambla – Just 300m from Bogatell Beach, Lugaris Rambla features a range of apartments each with a balcony offering city views. They have a clean, modern design. The one and two-bedroom apartments (some sleeping 5 guests) feature Nespresso machines, dishwashers, and free wifi.
Budget – Holiday Inn Express Barcelona City 22
Holiday Inn Express Barcelona City 22@ – is an IHG Hotel with a simple, modern design, as you would expect from the Holiday Inn family. It’s 300m to Llacuna Metro Station and a continental buffet breakfast is included with your booking.
Partying in Poble-sec
Poble-sec means “Dry Town”, and is so-called because it was the last neighborhood in Barcelona to be given a drinking fountain.
What’s it like to stay in Poble Sec?
Today, drinking is very much an option, as the neighborhood’s streets are lined with trendy bars serving wine, beer, and gin tonics.
Like El Raval, Poble-sec has an inner-city feel, and you should be careful, especially around Avinguda Parallel.
Montjuic is a major reason to stay in Poble Sec.
Poble Sec is also now the host of the city’s most famous fountain: La Font Màgica, or “magic fountain”. At the foot of Montjuic, this fountain lights up with colors and music.
This imposing, squat mountain catches the eye of anyone in the port or at the bottom of the Rambla and offers fresh air, satisfying hikes, and amazing views of the city.
Up in the mountain, you can find a number of hotels, including Hotel Brummell, a 20-room boutique hotel just a few steps from the Joan Miró museum.
Who should stay in Poble Sec
Poble Sec has both exciting nightlife and the natural majesty of Montjuic. However, it has its sketchier parts and its hillier terrain might mean it’s not the most walkable part of town.
Want some local Barcelona travel tips? Check out our guide for one day in Barcelona or our guide to what to eat in the city.
Our preferred hotels in Poble Sec
Splurge: InterContinental Barcelona, an IHG Hotel
InterContinental Barcelona, an IHG Hotel – offers guests plenty of extras including a rooftop pool with sun loungers, two on-site restaurants, and the exceptional spa 173 with its water circuit, a dry sauna, a hammam, hot tub, and gym.
There is a large range of spacious guest rooms all less than 200m from the Magic Fountain.
Apartments: Brummel Apartments Poble Sec
Budget: Casa Vaganto
The rooms are not huge but they are bright and sunny and very welcoming. Rooms feature air Conditioning, refrigerators, and smart TVs.