Pedrera Boutique Apartment

Eixample, Barcelona, Spain

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
A spacious, super-stylish apartment for 2-4 in the heart of the Eixample district, looking onto Gaudí's La Pedrera building
It's funny how you can get a completely different experience of a strange city, if you stay in someone's home. From the moment we entered interior designer Alex's apartment (which he rents out on demand), we felt like part of Barcelona's fabric as opposed to visiting tourists. For starters, it is in a charming old residential block of flats, so you're surrounded by the sights and sounds of people living here; secondly, because it's someone's home, there's loads of cooking equipment and space to spread out. And thirdly, it's set in-between shops on Carrer Pau Claris, one of the city's main thoroughfares, so you literally slip away from the tourists and into a private entrance hall. As you catch the old-fashioned elevator cage up to your flat on the second floor, you can't help feeling smug.

Inside everything is beautiful. Sunlight streams through a conservatory, flooding the open-plan living area, and there's a back view of Gaudí's La Pedrera building. Original floor tiles, sliding wooden doors, ceiling roses and stain-glass interior windows reveal the building's history, while the kitchen is modern, sleek and petrol-blue with glass jars of pasta, an Aladdin's lamp of olive oil and a Nespresso machine. It's a clever mix, and quirky things are all around: a wicker bull's head over the fireplace, a penny vendor full of marbles that Alex has had since childhood. An Eames rocking chair helps it to feel magazine-beautiful, but it's homely, too. You feel comfortable flopping on the sofa, reading in the peaceful conservatory, or sitting around the table drinking coffee and starting your day slowly. You'll just wish you really lived here.

Highs

  • A classy bolthole for a couple or a small family - there's a lovely double room and a single room with an extra bed
  • The great location, minutes from Passeig de Gràcia's designer shops, round the corner from Gaudí's La Pedrera, and within walking distance of all the sights
  • Alex's insider tips; eat at restaurants that locals love
  • Wandering through the city to the beach in summer (30 minutes), or making a real fire and snuggling up in front of a DVD in winter
  • Great value for money considering how much space you get, and a flexible rental (a 3-night minimum stay, but no changeover day)

Lows

  • You'll need to pay an expensive damages deposit on arrival, by cheque or cash
  • Bedrooms are small and don't have much/any natural daylight; the main one smelt a bit musty but luckily we had a scented travel candle with us!
  • The second bedroom lacks the decorative joy of other areas and sometimes experiences noise from the lift. So although the apartment sleeps 4, we'd say it's best for 2 or for a family rather than 2 couples
  • Don't expect fancy hotel touches such as bathrobes or toiletries; this is beautifully decorated but not luxurious
  • There's no air-con, but there are ceiling fans in the living room and main bedroom, as well as a portable one

Best time to go

Barcelona is a great city to visit all year round, except perhaps during the last couple of weeks in August when many of the smaller shops and bars are shut. The heat in summer (June to September) can be intense, while spring and autumn are generally pleasantly warm and sunny. December to February is chilly and quiet, except for the Christmas and New Year period, which the Catalans embrace with gusto.

Our top tips

Take a night-time tour of La Pedrera (aka Casa Milà), when it's quieter and more atmospheric. You'll see an apartment that recreates bourgeois life in the early 20th century, hear stories of residents who lived here 100 years ago, and can dine in the building’s Modernist-style café.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Family
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Apartment for 2-4
  • 2 bedrooms
  • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
  • Welcome but not ideal for toddlers
  • 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
  • Laundry Service
  • Maid service on request
  • Information pack
Room:

Rooms

One of the best things about choosing an apartment over a hotel is that you get a lot of space for your money - and this place feels huge. You enter into a warm-red hallway, and the quirky tone is immediately set by a plastic goose wearing headphones. To your left is the small second bedroom-cum-study, to your right is a laundry room with a shower and toilet, and down the hall you'll find the main bedroom with its ensuite bathroom, plus an open-plan lounge, kitchen and conservatory area.

The main bedroom is small but lovely, with a very high wood-beamed ceiling, an exposed brick wall, an elegant fabric lamp and a cosy double bed under a black-and-white photo of spring lambs. It's not fancy but it's very cool. The room leads onto a dressing area with drawers and hanging space, then a simple white-tiled bathroom with a tub and overhead shower. We slept well, and liked hearing other residents settling down for the night at the same time as us; it felt homely.

The second bedroom is rather dark, and lacks the thought and charm of the other rooms, but it would be good for a child or 2, and there's a long desk if you need some study space. There's a single bed, a rollaway bed, and a retro photographer's umbrella light hanging from the ceiling.

The lichen-coloured living area is where you'll spend most of your time. We loved the welcoming lounge with its squashy sofa, open fireplace (logs are provided) and fun touches such as a black-and-white portrait of a woman smoking, and a tin cat statue. The ceiling is high with plasterwork roses; doors are carved from wood. Through in the conservatory you'll find an Eames rocking chair and glorious views of La Pedrera, with tourists scurrying over that famous roof.

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Toaster
  • Tumble dryer
  • Tv
  • Washing machine
  • Wifi internet
  • Wifi internet

Eating

This is a kitchen for proper cooking, not just a show home. Although small, it has plenty of gleaming-white surfaces for chopping, and the drawers are superbly well equipped. There are good pans, baking trays, a blender and sharp knives, even a garlic presser and ice-cream scoop. Crockery (including champagne glasses) sits in a tall cupboard, and there are napkins and tablecloths should you want them. Equipment-wise, there's an induction hob, an oven and microwave, a dishwasher and a tall fridge/freezer, plus a Nespresso machine.

Basic ingredients are provided (olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper, jars of pasta, even honey in an elegant glass jar), and you'll find all manner of cleaning equipment. Alex will direct you to a supermarket for staples, and there's a 24-hour grocery store a few doors up, but we'd recommend La Boqueria market for fresh ingredients (just off Las Ramblas, 20 minutes' walk): fresh-out-of-the-sea crabs, fruit, veg and delicious Iberian meats.

You'll want to eat out a few times, and there are heaps of restaurants an easy stroll away; check the booklet written by Alex for his local suggestions. We headed to Carlota Akaneya, a Japanese restaurant, and had a wonderful barbecue of tender meat and shellfish, washed down with beer in ice-cold glasses. For something special the Michelin-starred Moo at Hotel Omm is around the corner from the apartment, as is its more-affordable sister restaurant Mordisco. Nearby, trendy Bocagrande is good for a pre or post-dinner drink.

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Food and wine
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Toaster
  • Walk to restaurants
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Fling open the conservatory doors and soak up some sun from the comfort of the Eames rocking chair. Or wander down to the lovely beach (30 minutes' walk)

  • Visit Gaudí's extraordinary La Pedrera building (aka Casa Milà), around the corner from the apartment. Built in the early 20th century as a combined apartment-and-office block, it has an amazingly creative roof with giant chimney pots and is now an art gallery; an apartment is done up in a typical bourgeois style of the time

  • Shop your way down Passeig de Gràcia's designer boutiques, then carry on down La Ramblas to see street performers, artists, fortune tellers, La Boqueria food market and a Joan Miró mosaic. Watch out for pickpockets

  • The beauty of the Sagrada Familia's architecture will lift your soul, whether or not you're a believer. Still unfinished, and a UNESCO World Heritage site, it has been funded entirely by public donations so is a true 'church of the people'

  • Visit the excellent Picasso museum, which traces the artist's formative years, or explore the history of art mediums at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC)

  • The National Palace (in the same building as MNAC) hosts the dramatic Magic Fountain colour-and-light show at the National Palace, built in 1929 for the Barcelona World Fair and Universal Exposition. It's on most nights but show times vary so check before you go

  • Hire a bike and explore. We loved weaving through the Barri Gòtic (the medieval centre of the city), then escaping the crowds and discovering quirky independent shops and eateries in the Born district

  • Head to Montjuïc to see the buildings and statues of the 1992 Olympics, wander through the botanical gardens (one of which has hundreds of different cacti species) and take in some great views

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Food and wine
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

Kids

This would be a good place for a family with a baby, or children aged 4+; it's probably not ideal for toddlers as there are lots of gorgeous furnishings that wouldn't go well with jam hands. There's a main bedroom with an ensuite bathroom (tub and shower), and a second bedroom with 2 single beds and a small shower bathroom. You'd need to bring a travel cot for a baby.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Children's meals:

There's a full kitchen, including a microwave for warming bottles and food.

Kids Activities on site:

  • DVD player

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Tibidabo amusement park
  • The zoo
  • The Magic Fountain

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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