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Where are the best places to stay in Barcelona, Spain? Each neighborhood offers different things: bountiful bakeries, beguiling bars, or buzzing beaches…or perhaps you want it all? As a 11-year resident, I’ve lived in different Barcelona neighborhoods, so I have a realistic idea of each one. So let’s find out where to stay in Barcelona! First time? Then this guide is for you. Keep reading below!
Below are the most popular and best neighborhoods for first-timers — keeping in mind proximity to tourist attractions, lifestyle, and safety. You don’t have to worry about driving a car because Barcelona is a walkable city, and public transportation is one of the best in Europe. Click to jump down and see a MAP OF BARCELONA NEIGHBORHOODS + HOTELS below!
Which is the best neighborhood to stay in Barcelona? And which hotel? To start, let’s talk about the most touristic part of Barcelona. It’s the “old town”, called Ciutat Vella, a tight web of streets that’s rich in museums, historical monuments, Roman and Gothic architecture. The names of neighborhoods in Ciutat Vella overlap and can be confusing. This includes the Gothic Quarter, El Raval, Born (which is in La Ribera), Las Ramblas, and La Barceloneta. All are quite central except for La Barceloneta, so staying in these neighborhoods would be convenient.
To save you time and headache, I’ve spent dozens of hours researching top hotels in Barcelona, Spain — handpicking high reviews, evaluating them, and adding my personal knowledge of their locations. [Click here to jump below –> see hotels sorted by price range.] Here’s a Barcelona Neighborhood Guide and my Hotel Picks. But first, here’s a quick glance of hotel prices and locations:
Graced with the presence of the majestic Palau de la Musica Catalana and the dramatic Santa María del Mar Cathedral, Born is the hip neighborhood that converts first-time visitors into repeat visitors. With its independent boutiques, trendy bars, and cool galleries, it exemplifies the quintessentially cool Barcelona lifestyle. Alas, its downfall is the gridlocked traffic of eager tourists and endless queues at the Picasso Museum. For exploring, check out the colorful-tiled Santa Caterina market, a food market where you can pick up some local meats and fruits, and it doesn’t get packed like La Boqueria. Stay here for tapas and nightlife.
What’s nearby? Santa María del Mar Cathedral, Picasso Museum, Born Cultural Center, Ciutadella Park, Palau de la Música, Santa Caterina food market. Good: Culture, history, and nightlife all in one. Bad: Can be noisy at night, depending where, if you need your zzz’s.
HOTELS IN BORN OR NEARBY:
OHLA HOTEL: 5 stars. This comes HIGHLY recommended from my friends, who stayed at this cool boutique hotel for the SECOND time in June. In other words, they love it! Ohla Hotel’s rooms are clean, sophisticated, and stylish. If you were to go out at night, the hotel is very central, and in a pretty well-lit and safe area. They have a complimentary breakfast, and a modern restaurant and terrace. It also has a killer rooftop view with a cool bar and a small pool. We could see a cruise ship from here! I begged my friend and her husband if I could just sleep on their hotel room sofa. They said no. 🙁 See current prices for Ohla Hotel
BLACK SWAN HOSTEL: 2 stars. Centrally located near the Arc de Triomf, this cozy and good-vibes hostel hosts paella cooking classes, club outings, movie nights, and a downright friendly atmosphere. Also, if you want more privacy in a shared room, your bed has a curtain! For its price, it’s unbeatable. For longer stays, take advantage of its coin-operated laundry room. Starting at €53 // See current prices for Black Swan Hostel
HOTEL REC BARCELONA: 2 stars. This modern, clean, and bright hotel is just 100 meters from the Arc de Triomf. Donning a cosmopolitan vibe, travelers can indulge in a rooftop terrace with 360º views, a delicious tapas bar, seasonal pool, sun terrace, and lounge area. Hotel Rec Barcelona also offers special free activities like beer tasting, a cocktails masterclass, and walking tour… and it’s ADULTS ONLY! Starting at €84 // See current prices for Hotel Rec Barcelona
The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic or El Gòtic) is the oldest area. It’s also the most central and touristic, where crowds often walk bumper-to-bumper. It has an abundance of quaint courtyards, historical buildings, labyrinthine alleyways, and endearing traditional bars and shops. Many walls of the Gothic Quarter are remnants of the Roman Empire, while Plaça de Sant Felip Neri is riddled with bullet holes from the Civil War. Portal de l’Àngel and Carrer Avinyó have an array of high-street and vintage boutiques. You can dance the night away at the trendy clubs around Plaça Reial, a favorite plaza among locals and expats. It’s frenzied, fun, and accessible to the top places to see in Barcelona.
What’s nearby? Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça Reial, Museu Frederic Mares, Santa Maria del Pi Cathedral, Plaça Sant Jaume Good: Charming, narrow cobblestone streets to wander Bad: Tourist trap shops, crowds, and rubbish
GOTHIC QUARTER, BARCELONA HOTELS:
HOTEL BARCELONA CATEDRAL. 4 stars. This boutique hotel is situated in the heart of Barcelona near the Barcelona Cathedral, but tucked away on a quiet street near “The World Begins with Every Kiss” mural. (In fact, my cousin enjoyed staying here with his family! They recommend it! We met up for cocktails at the fashionable bar.) It’s spacious, stylish, clean, and comfortable. You can enjoy the rooftop pool, workout gym, and relaxing restaurant bar. They even offer free Barcelona walking tours and wine and cheese tastings. See current prices for Hotel Barcelona Catedral
Not a neighborhood but a street, Las Ramblas is the landmark pedestrian promenade that divides the Gothic Quarter and El Raval. It’s packed with flower stands, souvenir vendors, sketch artists, mimes, and 99% tourists soaking in the action. Despite its overcrowdedness, this must-see-at-least-once area is convenient and accessible to all the Barcelona attractions. Stay here if you’re want to save time. You can beat the morning tourist crowds, or have breakfast at the famous Pinotxo Bar or El Quim de La Boqueria.
What’s nearby? La Boqueria, El Liceu, Christopher Columbus monument, Placa Reial, Maritime Museum, Plaça Catalunya. Good: You’re in the heart of Barcelona. Bad: Noise and pickpockets.
HOTELS ON LAS RAMBLAS OR NEARBY:
HOSTAL MARE NOSTRUM. 2 stars. Although this hostel is on the busy Las Ramblas, right next to Liceu, it has soundproofed rooms. That means you can enjoy from your balcony the vibrant scenery, but also get the rest you’ll need. That’s fantastic for people short on time and want to have Barcelona’s best attractions at your doorstep. It offers free breakfast (rare for a hostel) and a free Barcelona guidebook. Visitors say it’s compact – but clean, central, and convenient. Starting at €77 // See current prices for Hostal Mare Nostrum
HOTEL ESPAÑA RAMBLAS. 4 stars. This hotel comes highly recommended to me by the same cousin, who also stayed here! It’s perfect for first-timers: it’s design-y, spacious, quiet, and VERY central. Hotel España Ramblas is housed in a 19th-century building, which was refurbished in 2010 and designed by the famous Modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. (See a video of the stunning atrium here, courtesy my cuz.) Despite the fact that it’s off the boisterous Las Ramblas, it’s actually peaceful. It’s right next to Liceu, and it has a breakfast buffet and a Michelin-recommended restaurant, and a rooftop terrace. It’s just a 5-minute walk to central Plaça Catalunya. Starting at €104 // See current prices for Hotel España Ramblas
If you’re keen on staying by the water, La Barceloneta is a beach neighborhood ideal for sea and sand lovers. It has two parts: the tight residential neighborhood, which is a former fishing village — and the breezy, and sometimes chaotic, beach side. Barceloneta Beach gets super packed in the summer. But if you stay here during hot weather, you get a cool sea breeze unlike in the sticky Barcelona center. You can find a restaurant-lined boardwalk and marina, bars on the beach, and a festive environment equipped with eager beer hawkers.
What’s nearby? Barceloneta Beach, Maremagnum shopping center, History Museum of Catalunya. Good: Summer vibes and seafood restaurants. Bad: The sometimes rowdy beach crowds
HOTELS IN LA BARCELONETA OR NEARBY:
HOTEL SANTA MARTA: 2 stars. This is one of the best hotels in Barcelona near beach – flanked between La Barceloneta and the historic Gothic Quarter. (It’s technically on the lower side of Born but close enough.) Compact but clean, its location is perfect for getting the best of culture, architecture, and sand. It’s also a convenient spot to catch the Hop On Hop Off Bus. Starting at €47 // See current prices for Hotel Santa Marta
W BARCELONA HOTEL: 5 stars. This iconic hotel sticks out among all the others. Literally, it sticks out from the beach! As one of the best Barcelona beach hotels, this Marriott-run, sail-shaped hotel is of utmost luxury: sleek rooms with sea views, spa, a dining room, two pools, and the bangin’ Eclipse Bar on the 26th floor. And the Hop On Hop Off Bus stop is practically at the doorstep as well. I’ll stay here…one day! Starting at €248 // See current prices for W Barcelona Hotel
Hotel The Serras: 5 stars. A historical building with elegant industrial style, The Serras was named one of TripAdvisor’s top 25 luxury hotels in the world. The building is the site where renowned artist Pablo Picasso had his first studio. Its interior design boasts minimal geometric patterns and rich fabrics. At this deluxe hotel, you can expect limousine service, a library with a bar, soundproofed rooms, and chillout music on the rooftop bar. From there, you can catch sweeping views of Port Vell and the Mediterranean Sea. Starting at €300 // See current prices for Hotel The Serras
I personally don’t recommend sleeping in El Raval, but it’s worth seeing this gritty, diverse, and trendy neighborhood during the day. What used to be a den of prostitution and drug dealers is today a juxtaposition of laundry-lined streets, cool cafes, contemporary art galleries, second-hand shops, and trendy restaurants and bars. It’s also home to the largest immigrant population of Filipino, Pakistani, and North African cultures. For attractions, check out the modern thoroughfare Rambla del Raval, and the large, white Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) with a lively skater plaza. Unfortunately, drugs and crime have not completely gone away, as active drug wars have occasionally made news headlines in some areas. To stay safe, explore the major streets like Plaça dels Angels, Rambla de Raval, or Carrer Tallers, or visit during daylight.
What’s nearby? MACBA – Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, Rambla del Raval Good: Exciting, a multifarious place where you can find all the foods and spices your taste buds desires. Bad: Recent drug wars between neighbors and cops at night.
As I mentioned, I can’t recommend sleeping here. But if you’re a tough cookie, check out hotel prices in El Raval.
Eixample (pronounced “eye-shahm-pluh”) is the gridded part of the city, where streets are wider than the tight-knit Ciutat Vella. It has two parts: Left Eixample and Right Eixample. La Dreta de l’Eixample (“Right Eixample”) boasts elegant modernist design of wrought-iron street posts, opulent balconies, and intricate facades. Visitors love it for its chic hotels, posh boutiques, and upscale shopping avenues. L’Esquerre de L’Eixample (“Left Eixample”), was developed after the Right was built. It’s less ornate and more subtle and residential. For foodies, check out Sant Antoni, a neighborhood of L’Esquerre de L’Eixample and a haven of vermouth bars, brunch restaurants, and beguiling bodegas.
What’s nearby? Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Casa Mila (La Pedrera), Mercat de Sant Antoni Good: Gaudí buildings, art nouveau and classy style. Bad: It’s expansive, so parts of it can be further away from main attractions
HOTELS IN EIXAMPLE:
SANT JORDI HOSTEL ROCK PALACE: 2 stars. Rated as one of the best hostels in Barcelona, Spain, Sant Jordi has free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour reception, and bright air-conditioned dormitories. Decorated with hip murals, it offers a communal terrace, a shared kitchen with free coffee and tea and a large common room with cable TV and a DVD library. It gets rave reviews for its cleanliness, central location, and fun atmosphere. It’s equipped with a rooftop pool and a rock-bar themed chill-out area. Sant Jordi dorms include free bed linen and security lockers. And it’s affordable! Starting at €47 // See current prices for Sant Jordi Hostel Rock Palace
PRAKTIK VINOTECA: 3 stars. If you’re looking for a chic boutique hotel, Barcelona offers plenty. But the Praktik Vinoteca is a fantastic budget option, plus it has a cool theme: wine! It also has a breakfast buffet, wine tasting sessions, and a complimentary glass of wine upon arrival. It’s clean and tidy, and its soundproofed rooms in a low-key butbarea. Starting at €68 // See current prices for Praktik Vinoteca
Gràcia is one of my favorite neighborhoods to wander when I’m craving inspiration and creativity. It’s also a huge hit with young expats and families, who you’ll find meandering the narrow streets and hanging out in its relaxing public squares. Its artsy independent shops, small cinemas, restaurants, and contemporary cafes give it a bohemian flair. There are no huge attractions here, its charm is the small-town vibe. For people-watching, head to the lively Plaça de la Virreina, Plaça del Sol, or Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia. Take a 20ish-minute stroll uphill to Park Güell, Antoni Gaudí’s playground donning bright tiles and organic shapes that capture cool views of the city.
What’s nearby? Park Guell (you have to go up a hill from Gràcia) Good: It’s intimate, unsnobby vibe. Bad: Air pollution from narrow streets, a little far from the main attractions
HOTELS IN GRÀCIA:
HOTEL BESTPRICE GRÀCIA: 1 star. Hotel BestPrice Gràcia is a clean, modern hotel that comes without the extra bells and whistles but at an economical cost. You get independent bars, restaurants, and boutiques two hops away. Visitors rave about its soundproofed rooms, comfort, and convenience. Starting at €51 // See current prices for Hotel BestPrice Gràcia
Poblenou is also one of my favorite neighborhoods because it’s more remote from the crowded city center, but it’s got the beach, culture, and a strong local lifestyle. It used to be known as the Catalan Manchester, for its abundance of factories, textile mills, and distilleries during the Industrial Era. Those old factories and chimneys still remain, as many of them have been converted to art galleries and stylish offices. The main pedestrian street is the Rambla de Poblenou, a lively thoroughfare which has a handful of terrace bars, restaurants, and shops. Have an ice cream or orxata (tiger nut drink) at the 100+-year-old Tió Che. Also check out the new renovated Plaça Glories, which has the phallic Torre AGBAR building and the outdoor Glories Shopping Center.
What’s nearby? Torre AGBAR, Design Museum, Rambla de Poblenou Good: Uncongested and breezy. Bad: It takes about 10-20 minutes to get to the city centre.
HOTELS IN POBLENOU:
OCCIDENTAL ATENEO MAR (ADULTS ONLY): 4 stars. This modern, relaxing beach hotel is for travelers who wants a luxurious experience in Barcelona with the beach nearby. It’s only 150 meters to the Mar Bella Beach (my favorite city beach). Each of the 191 rooms has an outward-facing cityview or seaview. For maximum relaxation, you can pamper yourself using their seasonal infinity pool, hot/dry/salt sauna, fitness studio, Balinese beds, or snack bar. Visitors like it because it’s clean and comfortable. Starting at €83 // See current prices for Occidental Ateneo Mar
Below are the same hostels and hotels as mentioned above – sorted by price range. Click to jump back up to the descriptions!
Many cheap hostels in Barcelona, Spain, can start at €11 in a shared room. Some Barcelona hostels are like boutique hotels: small, design-centric hotels with a unique personality.
Sant Jordi Hostel Rock Palace: Jump to description Gracia // 2 stars. Starting at €47 // See current prices for Sant Jordi Hostel Rock Palace
If you want to save money but want to stay in a clean, comfortable bed, try a budget hotel. Barcelona accommodations start from €55. Here are some affordable hotels in Barcelona:
The most common hotels are mid-range hotels starting from €80. These range between 2-, 3- and 4-star hotels in Barcelona.
These are at a minimum — five-star — hotels in Barcelona, many with infinity pools, sleek fitness centers, and white-glove service. Most start at around €210.
– Best places to stay in Barcelona for tourists short on time: I suggest Born, Gothic Quarter, or near Las Ramblas to stay. They are the closest to the main attractions, and they’re the most vibrant and interesting.
– Best places to stay in Barcelona for nightlife: Born, Sant Antoni, El Raval, and Gothic Quarter have popular tapas and cocktail bars. The beachside near Poblenou has some dance clubs.
– Best places to stay in Barcelona for foodies: try Born, Poble Sec, El Raval, Gothic Quarter, or Sant Antoni. Vermouth bars, tapas bars, and bodegas are THE “thing to do”. But you can find excellent, authentic Catalan restaurants scattered throughout the city.
– Best places to stay in Barcelona for families: choose a hotel that’s close to attractions as to avoid lots of schlepping kids (I have 3 little ones myself): Gothic Quarter, Born, Las Ramblas, or even Eixample, but closer to the center. In my opinion, a family-friendly hotel is more important than the location. Just don’t stay in El Raval.
1. As I mentioned, walking and using public transportation is the best way to get around Barcelona. In Ciutat Vella, your own two feet should get you around.
2. The cheapest, easiest transportation to use is a card called the T-Casual (formerly the T-10 card), which is valid for the bus, metro, tram, and commuter train (RENFE). This means there are 10 trips on each ticket. Buy them at any metro or train station kiosk. You cannot use the card simultaneously with another person on the same trip. Read more about it on the official public transportation website.
3. La Sagrada Familia is in Eixample, but take the bus or metro (L2 or L5 stops: Sagrada Familia) to get there. I don’t suggest staying there because it’s quite residential with no other major attractions.
4. Use good ol’ Google Maps for mapping out your routes. It’s is my go-to for public transportation times, and it tends to be reliable.
5. Beware of pickpockets. Barcelona is not a violent city, but petty theft is rampant. Protect your wallet or purse, and you should be fine.
So there you have it: Barcelona places to stay! Hopefully, this guide helps you choose the right accommodations. Questions, love letters, or hate notes? Leave a comment below!
California native, churro aficionado, and mom of 3, Justine Ancheta writes fervently about Barcelona and Spain. Since 2008, she's been eating burnt onions (calçots) and tripping on cobblestones in the Gothic Quarter. She shares tips on popular attractions, exposes offbeat non-touristy spots, and gives insight on exploring Barcelona with kids. Her next Catalan culture challenge: top level of a human castle (castellers).
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