The best places to stay in Barcelona

Combining medieval splendour with groundbreaking architecture, an abiding respect for tradition with a sunny Mediterranean disposition and temples to art with shrines to fashion, Barcelona has exploded in popularity in recent years.

Luckily, the vastly improved hotels have made it easier to find a quality room than ever before, and with a little forward-planning it’s possible to get some great deals.

Here are the top picks for Barcelona hotels, for both luxury and budget holidays.

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Best for views: The Serras

Neighbourhood: Gothic Quarter

Overlooking the Port Vell, The Serras makes the most of its enviable location with huge floor-to-ceiling windows (some rooms even have tubs from which you can watch the yachts bobbing in the harbour), but the best view is from the roof terrace. Newly revamped and expanded, it now has a leafy open-air restaurant to add to its cocktail bar and plunge pool.

A stylish but impressively relaxed place, this five-star hotel works hard to keep its guests happy, providing luxuries such as mobile phones with free data and international calls, Diptyque toiletries and a 24-hour bar. SD

Doubles from €245
hoteltheserrasbarcelona.com

Best for design on a budget: Room-Mate Anna

Neighbourhood: Eixample

The Room-Mate chain is a quirky Spanish affair that styles each hotel around an individual, fictional, person. Whoever Anna is, she sure has élan and a quirky sense of style. The cartoony fish wallpaper in the corridors sets the playful tone, which continues all the way to the neat little pool, surrounded by Tim Burton-inspired striped cushions. Rooms are filled with colour, but a little more sober, although the nicest (”Deluxe”) have a sumptuous Eastern theme and are worth splashing out a little extra for. SD

Doubles from €98
room-matehotels.com

Best for dining: Mandarin Oriental

Neighbourhood: Eixample

With the sort of luxe comfort and service you’d expect from a Mandarin Oriental, the Barcelona branch has character in spades, as well as a notable selection of restaurants and bars. The outstanding Moments has (deservedly) won two Michelin stars for its chef Raül Balam, whose mother Carme Ruscalleda – one of the most garlanded chefs in the world – oversees Blanc, a less formal dining option. There are two outdoor bar-restaurants, one of which serves Peruvian cuisine, as well as the celebrated Banker’s Bar. SD

Doubles from €375
mandarinoriental.com

Best for country house chic: Soho House

Neighbourhood: Gothic Quarter​

Though it’s only been open a couple of years, Barcelona’s Soho House already has the venerable and clubby feel of one of its London counterparts. There are elements of Catalan craftsmanship in the design, but the look is overwhelming Cotswold retreat – which works surprisingly well in combination with a view over the Med. Rooms are small but luxurious, abundantly stocked with Cowshed toiletries and what can only be described as maxi-bars. There are various bars and restaurants, a rooftop pool and a small private cinema. SD

Doubles from €275
sohohousebarcelona.com

Best for history: Cotton House

Neighbourhood: Eixample

Set in the 19th-century neo-classical building that once housed the city’s guild of cotton producers, the hotel runs with the theme. The reception desk is adorned with vast sprays of cotton bolls; the rooms (dazzling white) are named after fabrics, and there is a discreet Atelier, lined with bolts of cotton, where you can have a shirt made. Dazzling architectural features include the coffered library-turned-cocktail bar and the 1950s suspended staircase. SD

Doubles from €342
hotelcottonhouse.com

Best for swimming: Grand Hotel Central

Neighbourhood: El Born

A smart, sexy hotel with an understated deco elegance, the Grand Hotel Central has one outstanding feature – its rooftop infinity pool, star of a million Instagram shots. The view from up here (where there is also a bar/restaurant) is breathtaking, and enhanced by a curious maritime mural. The story goes that the family that owns the hotel, frustrated by the neighbouring building blocking what would be a view of the sea, bought it for themselves and commissioned a vast mural to be painted on one side. SD

Doubles from €248
grandhotelcentral.com

Best for hanging with the locals: Casa Bonay

Neighbourhood: Eixample

Everything about Casa Bonay is designed to engage and give back to the local community, and during the day it becomes something of a co-working space for young Catalans, who gaze at MacBooks while eating homemade granola with almond milk and sipping a cold-pressed coffee. In the evenings, they return for the Asian food or for events such as the outdoor cinema on the citrus tree and herb-filled rooftop terrace. In the simply designed, light-filled rooms, rugs, blankets and hand-crafted furniture is by local designers, and much of it is for sale. SD

Doubles from €102
casabonay.com

Best for fun: Casa Camper

Neighbourhood: Raval

Bowls of M&Ms, an honesty bar, hammocks in the rooms, a little slice of rainforest, complete with shower, on the roof – these are the things that make up the Casa Camper experience. Rooms – painted crimson and overlooking a hanging garden – are divided into two, with sitting rooms across the corridor from the bedrooms (strangers padding around in dressing gowns is less awkward than it sounds), and an excellent 24-hour free snack bar is a social hub day and night. SD

Doubles from €230
casacamper.com

Best spa: Hotel Sofia

Neighbourhood: Zona Alta

The Sofia is up in the business district, which means there are bargains to be had in holiday periods. Rooms on the higher floors have fabulous views, and the dining options – three restaurants and an underground speakeasy with cabaret – are surprisingly good. The pool is a little too close to the road to be peaceful, but the spa is exceptional. Genuinely relaxing, it’s a vast and leafy space, with expert therapists and a range of treatments, along with a caldarium, sauna, salt room and ice-fountain. SD

Doubles from €228 (including breakfast)
sofiabarcelona.com

Best for beach-lovers: W Hotel

Neighbourhood: Barceloneta

Not for the shy, the seaside W is unabashedly aimed at the young and glam (there is an actual recording studio in the basement, not to mention a ferocious entrance policy for the main bar). The rooms, however, are all about the sea, decorated with a maritime theme and with beds placed dead centre, all the better to gaze out at the view. The gym and pools also face out to sea, as do the various restaurants, one of which is practically on the sand itself. SD

Doubles from £286
marriott.com/hotels/travel/bcnwh-w-barcelona

Best for eco-conscious travellers: Hostal Grau

Neighbourhood: Raval

Tucked discreetly away on a narrow pedestrianised street at the top of the central Raval district, family-run Hostal Grau has a relaxed and homely vibe and a genuine commitment to sustainable tourism. The bright, airy rooms have wooden floors made from reclaimed timber, imaginatively restored antique furnishings and locally produced natural toiletries by Cítrics del Pla. The windows of interior rooms at the rear open onto an impressive living wall of plants fed by clean waste water from the hotel. There’s no restaurant, but in the common lounge there is free tea, coffee and homemade cake, and there is a little all-day cafe right next door. AP

Doubles from €75
hostalgrau.com

Best for cocktails on the roof terrace: 1898

Neighbourhood: Raval/Las Ramblas

An original wooden revolving door separates the tourists thronging Las Ramblas from the stately tranquillity of 1898. Don’t be put off by the rather heavy colonial decor, 1898 contains some gems worthy of a much pricier hotel. Best of all is the outstanding roof terrace with a pool, a bar and large sofas perfect for enjoying a cocktail and a view of the old town towards the port beyond. For cooler seasons there’s an indoor pool, luxurious spa and decent gym. Classic doubles are very reasonably priced, and for deeper pockets there are corner suites with private pools. AP

Doubles from €180
hotel1898.com/en/ 

Best for a central city oasis: Alma

Neighbourhood: Eixample

A stone’s throw from the classy shops and cafes of Passeig de Gràcia, Alma is an oasis of modern elegance. A huge atrium rises up dramatically from reception to a skylight above. Lifts and rooms (all exterior) are accessed via fingerprint sensor, and there’s a spa with a heated indoor pool. The Jardín del Alma bar and restaurant opens onto a peaceful manzana (the ample interior of one of the Eixample’s famous city blocks) where Alma has created a unique garden with mature trees and winding slate paths. During warmer months meals are served outside, but drinks, tapas and tranquillity can be enjoyed outdoors almost year-round. AP

Doubles from €295
almahotels.com/barcelona

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