Boutique Apartments Barcelona

El Born, Barcelona, Spain Book from Eur59

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Contemporary apartments in the trendy El Born district and the quieter Sants area (sleeping 2-5)
Barcelona needs no introduction as being one of the world's greatest cities to explore. And what better way to do so from the comfort and space of your own apartment? You've a choice of location for these well-equipped boutique boltholes. Two sets are tucked away in the mazy ancient alleyways of El Born, one of the chic-est areas in town, full of cool bars, restaurants and boutiques. Split between 18th-century buildings, which have had a 20th-century makeover, the apartments are close to each other, with 1 or 2 bedrooms, a living area and kitchen, and perhaps a balcony or roof terrace. It’s a short walk from the sea (the city’s fishermen used to live here) and, in summer, the beach buzzes with life.

Alternatively, head to the more residential Sants district, to the west of Eixample, where, in a quiet pedestrian side street close to the railway station, you'll find modern studio-, 2- or 3-bedroom apartments (which we have yet to visit), most with parquet floors, some with balcony or large terrace.

Whichever location and size of apartment works for you, you can be assured of getting good value for money and you’ll be living like locals in the Catalan capital.

Highs

  • The apartments are very well-equipped - full kitchens, free WiFi - though you'll have to buy your own food staples (seasonings, condiments etc)
  • You get more flexibility and space than a hotel room; great for families and groups of friends
  • The El Born apartments are in a brilliant location with restaurants, tapas bars and boutiques on your doorstep; staff have tips and recommendations to help you explore
  • Great prices for a top-dollar European city
  • Unusually for apartments, you can book for just 3 or 4 nights (according to season)

Lows

  • The El Born apartments are in an area which is popular at night, so expect some noise - and occasionally sounds from adjoining apartments
  • The Sants apartments are not in the central tourist areas - a more authentic Barca experience, you might say - so expect to take transport (links are good)
  • Beds are a bit hard and not huge
  • No parking in pedestrianised zones - taxis can drop you off 100m-200m away
  • Bookings are non-refundable

Best time to go

Barcelona is buzzing all year, except perhaps the last couple of weeks in August when many of the shops and bars in El Born and the Gothic Quarter might be shut. December to February can be chilly, although the Catalans embrace the Christmas/New Year period with gusto. If you want warm weather without overbearing heat, visit in May, June, September or October.

Our top tips

Take a leisurely stroll down to Barceloneta beach. It's a great place to escape the city heat, and in summer you'll find bars and alfresco restaurants strung out along the seafront. Parc de la Ciutadella park is another wonderful spot for a lazy afternoon, with lawns, fountains, a lake and a zoo to explore.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Apartments
  • 17 1- and 2-bedroom apartments
  • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Elevator
Room:

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Washing machine in most
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

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.

  • The Esparteria and Mercat apartments are within easy walking distance of the Paseo del Born, the sights and sounds of the Gothic Quarter (the Picasso Museum is 3 minutes' away), the famous thoroughfare of Las Ramblas, the vintage shops in Raval, Parc de la Ciutadella, and the beach of Barcelona. There's a cycle hire outfit on the doorstep too

  • If you're staying in the Sants Apartments, Plaça Espanya is only a 10 minute walk away, beyond is Montjuic Hill, where you can find the MNAC (National Museum of Cataluña) Museum and Miró Foundation. The famous Camp Nou football stadium is also nearby

  • Staff can put you in touch with a Brit who runs a wide range of interesting tailored walking tours, such as Bohemian Barcelona by Night, Gaudi, Modernisme, tapas and cookery; ask for her details when you book, a cool way to get to know the city

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting

Kids

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Winner: Best For City Breaks
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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.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

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

Babysitting:

English-speaking babysitting is available by arrangement through an agency. See Rates; book in advance

Baby equipment:

  • Cots with mattress and bedding
  • High chairs on request
  • Stair gates on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

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.

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Playground in Plaça Palau
  • Parc de la Ciutadella (zoo, boating lake, plenty of room to run around)
  • Barceloneta beach
  • Maritime Museum (complete with full-size replica warships)
  • Gaudí's fairytale architecture at Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell
  • Cable-car rides up Montjuic
  • Walking tours can be tailored for families, such as themed Columbus tours to seafront tours on scooters
  • Light shows at the Font Màgica on Montjuïc (days and times vary according to season; check in advance)
  • Barcelona Aquarium
  • Tibidabo Amusement Park (perched on a hill overlooking the city)

Families Should Know:

Some apartments are duplex, although stairgates can be provided on request. All apartment buildings have elevators

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Hospital: 15 minutes
  • Shop: 1 minute
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
10/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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