“Contemporary apartments in the trendy El Born district and the quieter Sants area (sleeping 2-5)”
The apartments are split between converted 18th- and 19th-century buildings in the very charming and intimate El Born - on the Calle Esparteria and Plaça del Mercat - or in the Sants area, which is towards the west of the Eixample district.
The Esparteria apartments are tucked up one of the quieter alleyways 3 minutes from the Picasso Museum, easily found on our 2016 revisit; each apartment has 1 or 2 twin bedrooms, a bathroom, an open-plan kitchen and a spacious living room.
You get old stone walls, slate or wood floors, funky lighting and, in most, little balconies. The feel is open-plan - comfy contemporary city living. There are fluffy towels in the granite bathrooms (some have a shower only, others a bath with an overhead shower), and crisp white linen in the airy bedrooms. In the 2-bedroom apartments, the second room comes with bunk beds for kids, and cots are available for babies, while sofas open into double beds. All guests can use the communal roof terrace during office hours - sunbathing and views!
Set beside the antique market turned cultural centre nearby, the crisp Mercat apartments are 10 minutes' walk from the beach in one direction and Las Ramblas in the other. Walls are white, wooden floors gleam, furniture is minimalist and modern. There are pale sofas, leather armchairs, heated chrome towel rails, angle-poise lights, and French windows opening to small, pretty balconies.
The 2-bedroom apartments have 1 double room and 1 single room, and some are split over 2 floors. Some 1-bedroom apartments are also arranged as duplexes, with attic living areas and split-level roof terraces; we stayed in one of these on a recent revisit, and loved the alfresco dining table and roof-top loungers.
The newer Sants apartments, which work especially well for families, are on a quiet street only 400metres from Sants Barcelona station where the airport train stops. These come in Studio (sleeps 2), 2-bedroom (sleeps up to 4 + a child, the second bedroom has bunks) and 3-bedroom (sleeps up to 5 adults + 1 child, there are two shower bathrooms and a large private terrace) varieties. Studio and 2-bedroom apartments have parquet floors. We have yet to stay in these ones but are assured they are light-filled and comfortable.
The self-catered nature of the apartments means you have the flexibility to prepare your meals as and when you fancy. Kitchen facilities in each apartment vary slightly but all have ovens, hobs, coffee makers, microwaves, fridge-freezers and a goodly amount of cookware, gadgets, cutlery and glassware.
The Mercat del Born and Sants' kitchens are especially snazzy and well-equipped and come with washing machines. Most of the Esparteria apartments have washing machines but this cannot be guaranteed, there's a laundromat nearby.
Basics such as tea, coffee and condiments are not provided in the apartments (although washing up liquid and soap are supplied in all, and dishwasher tablets are supplied in the Mercat apartments), so you will need to stock up when you arrive. When it comes to food shopping, there are plenty of little grocery stores in the El Born area, as well as the fantastic markets of La Boqueria and Santa Caterina, both brimming with fresh produce. The area also has heaps of tapas bars and restaurants. Sants, as befitting a more residential than touristy neighbourhood, also has lots of choice for grocery shopping, and restaurants and bars.
Note that there is an office beside the El Born apartments where staff can assist with ticket purchases and event bookings, this service is not available at the Sants apartments.
i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2014
Winner: Best For City Breaks
> See the full list of winners
All apartments are a great option for families in Barcelona. The Esparteria and Mercat apartments are set near Parc de la Ciutadella (home to Barcelona's zoo, and site of an annual children's festival, La Tamborinada, held each May) and close to Barceloneta beach. The Sants apartments are very well located for public transport, Montjuic Hill and close to the Nou Camp for football pilgrims.
The various sizes and layouts on offer provide plenty of flexibility for families. Note that some, but not all, apartments have a bathtub, and baby cots are available in all apartments on request.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
The 2-bedroom Mercat del Born apartments work well for families with 1 child as they each have a double bedroom and a single bedroom. The 1-bedroom apartments in Esparteria have sofabeds in the living areas.
For larger families, the 2-bedroom apartments in Esparteria are a great option (some have bunk beds), as are the 2-bedroom apartments in Sants, which have 2 bathrooms. All of these have a double sofabed in the living room, so can sleep a family of 5. There are also 3-bedroom Sants apartments which have two double bedrooms and a single so can sleep 5
English-speaking babysitting is available by arrangement through an agency. See Rates; book in advance
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The kitchens are well equipped but note that they don't have blenders for baby food; all have microwaves and ovens. You can buy everything you need nearby; there are also child-friendly eateries within walking distance, and you can order takeaways.
Some apartments are duplex, although stairgates can be provided on request. All apartment buildings have elevators