Barcelona is a great city: the climate, the sights, the food, the culture, the weather. All of these make Barcelona one of my favorite cities in the world. We only spent two weeks in Barcelona this time around, but enjoyed our time immensely.
One of the things that made our stay so great was the location of where we stayed. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal. The first attraction of this hotel to us was that it was a great place for us to spend some of our 1.6 million hotel and airline points. At the time, it was a great deal that cost only 3000 points per night on weekdays and 4000 points per night on weekends. I say at the time because since we stayed there, Sheraton raised the number of points per night required to 7000 per night. Still not a bad deal, but not as good as our stay.
The second attraction was the location. The hotel is located a little outside the main tourist area of central Barcelona, but still close enough to walk or take readily available public transit to virtually anywhere we wanted to go. We ended up loving the location and when we return to Barcelona in the future we will definitely stay in that area whether we stay at the Four Points or another hotel, or get an Airbnb in the area.
The Four Points Barcelona Diagonal is a nice hotel. The rooms are clean and modern. Our room had a small fridge, which was nice to store snacks and drinks in. Our room faced the street and out our window we had a view of the Sagrada Familia – a stunning church designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudi. The staff was friendly and helpful and although we tried to practice our Spanish, there was at least one person at the desk at all times that spoke English and helped us out when we got stuck. Rather than spend a lot of time describing the actual hotel itself, here is a link to their website http://www.fourpointsbarcelonadiagonal.com/
The hotel was nice, but nothing super spectacular. The real reason we enjoyed our stay so much was the location. The location of the hotel, to us, was perfect. When we travel, we prefer to be in an area where local people actually live. At the same time, we like to be relatively close to the major tourist sites as well. The Four Points is just such a location.
People have lived in Barcelona for a long time. It is estimated that it was first settled in 5000 B.C. It became a Roman city in about 15 B.C. and in medieval times was a thriving walled city. In the 1800’s the city expanded beyond the walls of the medieval city and a master plan laid out the expansion in a grid pattern with a number of wide avenues crisscrossing the city. The Four Points hotel is located in this expanded area and is on the corner of two wide boulevards – Avenida Diagonal and Rambla del Poblenou.
Avenida Diagonal is one of the major streets and has two lanes of traffic each direction separated by a wide tree lined boulevard with walking and biking paths, and tram tracks in each direction. Rambla del Poblenou is primarily a pedestrian street with limited vehicle traffic that leads down to the beach on the Mediterranean Sea.
A few blocks up the street is the iconic Torre Agbar and the Glories transit hub where you can take a subway, tram or bus to anywhere in the city.
There are plenty of tourists in the area, but it is definitely a neighborhood where people live. You see families and people of all ages going about their daily routine; school children walking to school, people on their way to work, others out doing their grocery shopping or just enjoying a coffee at a local cafe.
With just a small fridge in the hotel room our ability to prepare meals was somewhat limited. However, we always had a supply of ham, cheese, fruit, drinks, etc. to be able to make a light lunch or have a little breakfast. A shopping mall about a quarter mile away had a large grocery store with everything you could ever need as far as food is concerned, but we liked to also shop at one of the many small fruit and vegetable markets or bakeries that were just steps away from the hotel.
Our morning ritual soon became to go to a cafe next door for coffee and perhaps a croissant or small sandwich. For about 4 euros ($4.50 USD), Susan could get a cappuccino and croissant and I could get a café cortado. The waiter soon picked up on our routine and when we walked in he would bring our cappuccino and cortado to us even before we asked.
Susan and I try to walk a lot to get where we want to go these days. Not only does the exercise help, but you also get a much better feel for the neighborhood than if you were in a car or on a bus. In the morning I would often go for a run down Avenida Diagonal. The beach was about 1.4 km (~ 1 mile) down Rambla Poblenou. Our rough rule of thumb is that if something we want to see is 5km or less from us (~3 miles) we will walk. Once it is farther than that we will consider transit or a taxi. This meant that most of the things we wanted to see in Barcelona were within walking distance.
For us, this location was perfect. It was the right mix of “living like a local” and being able to access the main tourist sites easily. If you are visiting Barcelona for the first time and only have a few days, you might be more comfortable right in the middle of the old city, say on La Rambla or near there. However, you will pay more both for the hotel and in higher tourist prices at the restaurants, etc. Either way, Barcelona is still one of my favorite cities in the world and I highly recommend visiting.