Right just a little idiot’s guide to booking apartments in Barcelona, and the verdict on whether the pros of ditching hotels for home comforts outweigh the cons. As with all good idiot’s guides I’ll leave it ambiguous as to whether the eedyot is the person who needs to read a guide about booking an apartment, or the person who bothered to write the guide in the first place… Shall we just call it an honourable draw?
Booking Apartments vs. Hotels
Cost: Whilst hotel prices in Spain decreased by 2% in 2010, Barcelona is still one of the most expensive places to stay in one of the world’s most touristic countries. In other words, rooms ain’t cheap. According to my top secret sources the cheapest you could expect to pay for a double room would be just over 40 euros per night – and that would be a lowly one star room in January! The average price of a five star room in October is 190 euros, with 170 euros about average over summer (I’ve no idea why October came in as the priciest). For a 3 star room March to October you’re looking at 90 euros a night, so 45 euros each. The cost of apartments vary wildly, but with so many agencies entering this competitive business you’re in with a good shout at saving some cash. Whilst no reliable statistics are available on flat rentals a browse around the sites of some of the top providers (more on them later) reveals that nearly all have apartments available from 20-25 euros per person per night, going up to around 40-50. If you’re planning on staying for a number of nights that could turn into quite a saving!
Convenience: Hotels are pretty convenient, with the obvious pros being that you just need to turn up hand over your passports and let the cute receptionist usher you to your (almost) always lushly turned out rooms. Taxi drivers know how to get you home at night (useful when you’re sloshed, after overdoing it in the Barcelona clubs), breakfast is on hand in the morning, and that same receptionist can be a fountain of a knowledge – and may even hand you a map for exploring the city. Plus there’s a debonair feeling of being a high roller as you rock in and out of the hotel foyer and empty out the mini-bar…. However apartments to have some advantages too. Ok it can be a bit of faff getting and returning the keys (most decent agencies make an effort to make this as painless as possible however), but once you’re in you’ve got your very own home in Barcelona. Ok trashing the place is probably not a good idea, but if you do get lucky at least you can bring your victim back to the lair without any dirty looks, or worse still being turned away with a “no guests allowed” policy thrust in your face. Plus having your own kitchen, and sometimes washing machine etc, can be a big advantage if you want to save some money on eating out, or give your socks their annual bath.
The Verdict: Overall apartments definitely win on cost, so if that’s a deciding factor there’s your answer. For convenience it may depend a little on how long you’re staying. The drop in and out service hotels provide is probably easier for a short stay, but for three or more nights having your own place – and your own rules – can make up for the lack of room service. Bear in mind that most apartment agencies have luxury pads on their books with all the mod-cons of a five star hotel… so you needn’t forgo your roof-top Jacuzzi!
If you do go down the flats route, here are some respectable outfits recommended by our friends at Barcelona Life… you can check out their reviews and public opinions etc by clicking on the links below (this list has been updated in January 2013:).
Barcelona For Rent – Agency with 130 flats in great locations around the city.
City Siesta Barcelona – No damage deposit required so perfect if you want to trash the place (pls. don’t!).
Oh-Barcelona Apartments – One of the biggest and best rental companies in BCN.
Apartment Barcelona – Not the most imaginatively named firm, but they do have over 500 places where you can take up temporary residence around the city.
Click here for an A-Z list of accommodation in Barcelona.