The Raval has seen many changes over the last decade, but it can be a little intimidating at night, especially for anyone emerging from a four-star hotel. Despite some pickpocketing and petty crime, however, it's not a violent neighbourhood, and is the most authentic of the Old City neighbourhoods.
Upstairs the rooms come in two flavours: hot pink or lime green, their numbers projected on to the floor outside, and inside the circular theme continues in the décor and rounded edges. Nespresso machines and chromatic lighting come as standard, but for something a bit more special book one of the rooms on the higher floors, which have fabulous views, particularly the suites.
In the lobby and lounge area, oversized rococo-patterned lampshades light up iMacs where guests can check their emails, and shelves bulge with books on Spanish culture, design and architecture. If your wallet won’t run to one of the suites (and it’s always worth checking around for offers), you can take in the sun and a panoramic view from the rooftop terrace and small plunge pool.
Eating and drinking
The Barcelo has become a popular place for anyone to drop in and have a cocktail or a quick lunch, in the glam B-Lounge. This is an extension of the lobby, and licks gracefully around echoing the shape of the building, with boomerang-shaped tables and curvy banquettes to match. The food is reasonable, and reasonably priced, tapas and relaxed global dishes (guacamole with nachos, burgers and, on my last visit, kangaroo in ratafia).
The plunge pool on the roof is just that, and you won't be doing many laps, but it's a nice place for a dip. The gym is a more useful size, and there's a small spa where you can get a massage or have your bikini line waxed.
Young and easy on the eye, but none the less polite for it.
Who stays there
The Barceló attracts lots of youngish couples on city breaks, but no one nationality seems to dominate.
Even in August it's possible to get a reasonably priced room. Breakfast is 12 euros extra, but varied and good.
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
Pros & Cons
- Excellent value
- The area can feel insalubrious at night