A little earlier this year we visited Barcelona. It was our second visit to the Catalan capital and both times we’ve visited we’ve stayed in 4 or 5 star hotels. This time we stayed in the four star Hotel España and we much prefered it to the 5 star hotel we stayed in previously.
I think location is key in Barcelona. Yes, there is a good public transport system, but it’s much better to be at the heart of things rather than having to commute in all the time. The Hotel España is situated in an old quarter of the city, just a minute or so’s walk from Las Ramblas. Both the Gran Teatro del Liceo (theatre) and La Boquería Market are just a minute’s walk away too. If you face onto the street, you’ll probably want your windows closed at night because there are often people walking past, but the air conditioning is good and quiet, so this isn’t really an issue.
We had a standard room. It wasn’t enormous, but I think you tend to expect that in a centrally located hotel. It was nicely furnished and had everything you’d expect. The only thing that we found was a bit of a pain was that I couldn’t turn on just a bedside lamp on my side of the bed. I could either turn on everything or nothing. The bathroom was sleek and modern. My husband, the shower connoisseur, was satisfied with the shower arrangements. There wasn’t a bath.
We did eat at the hotel’s restaurant, Restaurante Fonda España, on our first night, a Friday. It was the only night that we could get a reservation due to being busy one night and being closed one night (Sunday). The decor of the restaurant is stunning, like so much of this hotel, and there are so many details to take in. It’s almost worth eating here to have the chance to drink in all the designs.
The Restaurante Fonda España describe their cooking as ‘a commitment to the most traditional style of cooking, while embracing modernity’. However, we didn’t really pick this up from our own meals there.
In fact, we found the food dull and uninspiring and whilst it was the most expensive food we ate whilst we were in the city, it was far from the best that we sampled. I would recommend having side dishes of vegetables or salads as despite the prices (and this is common in Spain) the main courses don’t come with much in the way of vegetables. We tried dessert too. As you can see it looked very nice, but it didn’t really deliver in taste terms.
It’s a buffet breakfast at the hotel each morning, but in a setting that is out of this world. You’ll be transported under the ocean in a magical world of mermaids and sea creatures. The decor is breathtaking and the walls are tiled up to the high ceiling with under sea motifs.
The buffet is fairly standard fare for a European hotel. It’s a largely continental breakfast with a small selection of hot food. In fact, hot is a bit of a misnomer as it is always seemed to be lukewarm. Much better to stick to the continental breakfast with delicious fresh bread with a choice of cold meats and cheeses.
Looking back at my review I can see I have criticised the food, but I don’t want this review to come across as negative. If we were looking to visit Barcelona again, and our budget allowed, I wouldn’t hesitate to book in again at this hotel. The combination of a great location, stunning decor and good customer service made it a real winner for me. The hotel is justifiably proud of their interiors and they do run regular guided tours (for an extra fee and you need to book, but you could just pop in for a nose around especially if you were eating in the restaurant or drinking in the bar).
For a quick snack or a light lunch try the La Boquería Market – walk towards the back for stalls selling more substantial snacks and meals.
We liked El Jardi for an alfresco meal of tapas in a lovely garden setting.