Modern Furnishings Meets Gothic Past in Barcelona Hotel
Barcelona’s continuing evolution and innovation are expressed in a variety of cultural contexts—in the arts, in civic planning and in hospitality, to name just a few. The city of ceramicist and sculptor Joan Miró, artist Pablo Picasso, and modernisme architect Antoni Gaudí continually finds ways to push itself forward in multiple expressions. Conveniently situated in the El Born district and steps away from the Gothic Quarter is the modern Ciutat Barcelona Hotel, a terrific location to experience the freshness of this 2,000 year-old popular destination city. The small group of hotels under the Ciutathotels umbrella, was created during the Olympic wave of construction in 1992, an event that utterly transformed Barcelona and catapulted it to its present acclaimed status as one of the world’s major global cities. Today Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain with some 5 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, is considered one of the world’s leading tourist, economic, cultural, and trade fair centers.
The Ciutat Barcelona features a clean, modern design in its rooms and décor. Entering our corner room on the 3rd floor we found wood-plank floors leading to two sets of glass doors each opening to its own lovely balcony. The firm queen-size mattress was covered only by cotton sheets, suggesting that we’d be comfortable in Barcelona’s Mediterranean climate without utilizing the blanket in the closet. Minimalist furnishings contributed to the simple, somewhat austere environment—no pictures on the walls—a veiled hint that the real, truly authentic art of Barcelona is to be experienced elsewhere. The occasional rush of traffic outside was a reminder that the life of this city was truly to be experienced outdoors on the streets and in the shops, museums, restaurants, and architectural wonders. We enjoyed opening the balcony doors at different times of the day and night to bring in the sea air and sounds of commerce.
We arrived after a particularly long day of travel, and after checking in, it was refreshing to grab some free bottles of water supplied by the hotel from the refrigerator down the hall. We slept comfortably on our bed—using the blanket after all—while enjoying the autumn night-air with balcony doors ajar.
In the morning, a buffet breakfast is served in the downstairs restaurant for guests—Districte Born. Hot foods (scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage), breads and pastries, cold cuts, cheeses, fruit, juices, and several coffee selections were available from the sumptuous buffet. Because of prior commitments, we had to leave early on the second morning of our stay, and the hotel’s restaurant had food ready for us at 7 a.m., allowing us to start our day with an ample, hot breakfast. The Districte Born has a lunch menu for 12 euros, serves tapas and wines, along with a full dinner menu and cocktails. Here’s a great place to try some local Catalonian favorites, such as sautéed squid with artichokes or baked octopus.
Hotel staff members were friendly and helpful. A giant map of the downtown area is used to help guests navigate about town. Our front-desk host took us over to the giant map to show us where we were (“You are here”) and pointed how which way to walk out of the hotel to begin our walking tour. Before leaving to explore all the city has to offer (see our review of the things to do in Barcelona) we took the elevator to the top floor to explore the hotel’s lovely roof deck solarium and swimming pool. Lounge chairs and tables invited us to return later to relax in the afternoon or early evening air. However, early morning panoramic roof-top views of Barcelona challenged us to quickly get on with our day of exploration of all this city has to offer. We headed toward the broad avenue known as Las Ramblas to check out the colorful Mercat Boqueria, one of the city’s foremost tourist landmarks. Here local merchants offer a diverse selection of produce, meats, fish and other items. We headed next toward the Plaza Catalyuna where we boarded the Big Red Bus for a tour of the major sites of Barcelona (see our accompanying article).
The downtown hotel is a member of a group of several Ciutathotels, including Hotel Ciutat de Granollers, Hotel Ciutat de Mollet, hotel Ciutat Vella, and Aprtaments Ciutat Vell. Our location, on the Carrer de la Princesa, was just a stone’s throw away from the Picasso Museum that houses 4,251 works that are part of the permanent collection. The museum’s focus is on the formative years in the life of the artist, considered to be exhaustive up to his Blue Period. Of the five large Picasso museums in the world, this one, having opened in 1963, is the first and only museum to be set up on Picasso’s express wish. Jaume Sabartés (1881-1969), a close friend from youth who became Picasso’s secretary in 1935, was largely responsible for the creation of the museum. The artist spent his formative years in Barcelona as the prints and paintings depict. Arriving from Malaga when he was just fourteen years old, Picasso attended the La Llotja drawing school and painted rooftops of Barcelona as a young artist. His solid academic training is on display in works that precede his approach to avant-garde trends. We’d consider this a “must see” when in the area. In addition to the Picasso works of art, there is space in the museum for touring exhibitions.
Back at our hotel, we enjoyed the free wi-fi internet service in our room, something for which other hotels charge extra. All rooms at the Hotel Ciutat have heating, air conditioning, flat-screen televisions, hair dryers and a combination safe for storing valuables, such as passports. The hotel’s website is a great resource for local attractions and things to do. Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona also features a number of offers on its website, such as discounts if you book 45 or more days in advance. We were given two free mini bottles of Cava Codornium 1551 Herencia sparkling wine for posting a few words on a social network—an offer extended to all guests who post on Facebook, TripAdvisor or any other social network.
Considering its location, hospitality, service, and amenities, the Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona offers travelers an exceptionally good value in accommodations. Located in the heart of the “Ciutat Vella,” or “old town,” its location is central to trendy bars and restaurants, shops, attractions and the cosmopolitan life of this charismatic city. Book your reservation in advance here or any of their other locations to enjoy the best that Barcelona has to offer.
Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona
Carrer Princesa 33-35
08003 Barcelona, Spain
Tel. (+34) 932-697-475
Fax. (+34) 932-697-476