When I travel, I generally like as much personal space as I can get. Sure, sometimes it’s fun to rough it in a backpackers and make new friends, but I’m a pants off as soon as the door’s closed kind of guy. I like being able to sleep in without somebody banging on my door to change the linens and I want to be able to jack my music up and dance around like an idiot to psyche myself up.
In this guest post, I’ve been reminded of why I love apartment stays and why I’ve made so much use of them in past trips to the US, China, and even here at home in Oz.
Why choose an apartment for your stay in Barcelona?
When it comes to choosing a European destination to visit, there’s one city that’s on everybody’s mind lately – Barcelona. The Catalan capital has taken the world by storm ever since the 1992 Olympics and each year seems to be attracting more and more visitors to its colourful, vibrant, and historic streets. So if you’re one of those people planning on making the trip soon; what are you going to do? Book your flight and then choose a nice hotel, right? Nope, not always. You might be accustomed to hotels, but Barcelona is a city that is much more suited to discovery from an apartment.
Don’t believe me? Here are 9 reasons why:
1. Barcelona is a city for mates
The Catalan capital has the beach and a booming nightlife, making it ideal for groups of friends that are out to make the most of life. If you were to stay in a hotel, you’d all have to split up into booking separate rooms and organize yourselves each day, and hostels aren’t for everyone either. In an apartment you can all stay under one roof and make the most out of your time in the city. Financially speaking, renting an apartment as a group is likely to work out cheaper per head than shelling out for a hotel room each too.
2. Barcelona is a city for families
There is a sophisticated side to Barcelona too; museums, parks, and a wealth of stunningly beautiful buildings make the city a great place for a family trip. Despite the main attractions in the city being ideal for families, for some reason hotels aren’t. Why should you split up over two or more rooms when you can all stay in an apartment as one big (Ed: usually) happy family? An apartment stay puts everybody you love under one roof, so you don’t have to worry about what the kids are getting up to and can get everybody organised without ducking between hotel suites.
Ed: My family and I did this back in 2013 when we took a family trip to the Sunshine Coast. We needed two apartments to accommodate the eleven of us, but it was far cheaper than finding the 4-6 rooms we’d have needed at hotels.
3. Love is in the air for couples
There is no bigger buzzkill than arriving at a hotel with your other half and hearing the people in the room next door (Ed: Unless that’s what you’re into…). Barcelona is a city for romance, so a private studio apartment is ideal for visiting couples wanting their amorous activities uninterrupted. No more worrying about a house-keeper barging her way into the room and interrupting a romantic moment.
Ed: Oh God, that hostel in Monterey. The poor staff member. What was seen cannot be unseen.
4. All your WiFi are belong to us
One of the biggest gripes for travellers visiting Barcelona is fighting to get a decent WiFi connection. At traditional accommodations like hotels you’ll be sharing the connection with hundreds of other guests, effectively throttling the connection to the point that even Facebook is a chore. In an apartment you have the full broadband connection to yourself, meaning you can get down to business and keep in touch with everybody back home without too much drama
5. In an apartment, you can stay ANYWHERE
Barcelona has an endless selection of neighbourhoods to stay in, and it’s really no exaggeration to say that each is very different from the last. Most of the hotels congregate around the touristy areas, so if you want to find a place to stay in a more authentic zone like Gracia, or even Sant Andreu then you’ll find it much easier to find a decent holiday apartment in these areas. If you want to stay in a tourist zone though, that’s still not a problem. There are literally apartments scattered all over the city and local agencies like OK Apartment Barcelona have selections of over 1000 apartments, meaning you can always find the ideal spot for you.
Ed: This was one of the biggest appeals of apartment stays for me. I didn’t necessarily want to stay in a crowded beach suburb or right by the night life district with its associated noise.
6. Don’t dine-out. Dine-in.
Many people say the accommodation is the most expensive part of a trip, others will say the flight depending on how far you’ve flown, but one part many people forget about is dining out. Even at a hotel you need to eat, and breakfasts are usually incredibly expensive add-ons! Not to mention having to go to a restaurant for lunch/dinner each day! Sure, you can have lunch for as cheap as 10 – 20 euro per person per day in Barcelona, but that’s two times a day for each visitor! In an apartment you have a fully equipped kitchen, so rather than spending hundreds on expensive food, you will only be spending a tiny fraction of that.
Watching your weight? Cooking your own food lets you know exactly what is going into your food, alleviating the chance of coming back with a holiday hump.
7. Make the most of the Spanish summer-time
The weather is reliably stunning and beautiful during the summer months; to enjoy it from your accommodation you’ll need a terrace. That’s usually a big extra in hotels, but in an apartment many already have them anyway. Enjoy the Barcelona sunshine with a barbecue amongst friends or simply soak in some rays in your own private space.
8. An intimate insight into the local way of life
One thing you don’t manage to see with the more conventional accommodations is how the locals live, and there is no more authentic way than living like one yourself. For an even deeper look; stay in an apartment by a local plaza and you’ll see residents greeting each other, children playing, the elderly gossiping, and other charming outlooks into Catalan everyday culture that’s impossible from a hotel.
9. Get advised on what to see off the beaten path
There are thousands of things to see in the city. Arrive at a hotel and you’re usually greeted by a reception desk and some pamphlets to choose from, but with an apartment you’re given more than that – you have a contact. Usually a local from the city, who is more than willing to give you advice on what’s going on in the Catalan capital – things that you’d otherwise miss like one-off events, local festivities, and hidden attractions. Just ask, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Ed: We made full use of this while traveling across the United States in 2012. Our hosts were excellent at recommending hidden hole in the wall restaurants, good beaches to escape to, and local attractions that weren’t awash with tourists.
Most of these tips don’t apply to Barcelona alone, but they’re especially relevant in this fair city. So next time you plan your trip and think about booking a hotel, at least play with the idea that an apartment might be more suited for you, it may or may not be, but unless you give it a look you’ll never know!
Do you ever use apartments stays or services like AirBnB when you travel? What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages?