Our family was lucky enough to take a Trans-Atlantic cruise that left from Barcelona, Spain. We decided to fly in three days early as it was our first visit to Barcelona. After wading through the myriad of hotels on TripAdvisor, we landed on the Hotel Barcelona Universal. This proved to be a good choice!
Hotel Barcelona Universal
With three in our family, they put us in a suite. Located on the 9th floor it included our own balcony overlooking the city. The view was amazing! However, if you arrive and get a room with a not so stellar view, have no fear. The rooftop deck is fantastic! There is a small pool as well as a bar and plenty of seating overlooking the city. But back to the room.
We had a Jacuzzi Skyline Suite. The suite held a large table you could use for meetings (or playing games with the family), two bathrooms, a living room (our couch doubled as a bed for our son), and a bedroom. The large bathroom connected to the bedroom and had a giant round Jacuzzi in it.
Unfortunately, we had problems with our shower while there. The water wasn’t draining and after showering the whole bathroom was a lake! I’m not exaggerating here folks, you could paddle around on that floor! When we reported it, they said they’d send someone up to fix it while we were out. And when we returned they said it’d been fixed, however we learned that was not the case as water went rolling out in waves onto the floor of the bedroom!
We told them and they said they’d send someone back up…long story short here, the situation was never rectified despite their repair man’s visits, so we ended up using the shower in the Jacuzzi tub instead. They were very friendly throughout the process, unfortunately they’re handy man isn’t super handy. Anyhow, aside of the water issue, the room was great.
Breakfast in the morning was served on the 1st floor (that’s the 2nd floor to those of us from the U.S.). It was quite nice with an array of hot and cold foods. There were meats and cheeses, fresh fruit, pastries, yogurt, and one could even grab a mimosa along with their coffee. Yum! They don’t serve lunch and dinner, but according to their website they will start serving food alongside their cocktails at the Lounge Terrace up where the view is fabulous!
If you are looking for a place to go to dinner, I wrote a separate review on the amazing Spoonik.
Things to Do in the Area
Now, for the location of the hotel. It was perfect! Only a few blocks from the popular street Las Ramblas, of which Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once said, “the only street in the world which I wish would never end.” Though it really is a fun area, it’s hard to see being poetically enchanted by it today due to the sheer numbers of people. It’s crowded with both tourists and locals.
We were there at the end of October which isn’t exactly the high tourist season, but perhaps during the winter it could be quite nice with fewer people. Despite the crowds (we still go to Disney every year, so we know crowds!), it’s definitely worth a visit.
This lovely tree lined street includes a paved area in the middle hosting multiple street cafes dotted with sun umbrellas. One can sit and enjoy sangria while watching the people go by. And I should mention that though we felt quite safe there, it is an area known for pickpockets, so hold on to your fanny packs! Lined with stores of all sorts, one can even find a pharmacy (the one we happened to wander into was stunning!).
Originally, Las Ramblas was filled with sewage! But that was back in the 1400’s, so no worries, all traces of that are gone. Read more about the interesting history of Las Ramblas.
Quimet & Quimet
Back on the street in front of the Hotel Barcelona Universal, I googled for “best tappas lunch Barcelona” and lo and behold the map showed the number one spot just around the corner from us! What a happy moment it was when we stumbled through the doors of Quimet & Quimet! Located at Carrer Poeta Cabanyes 25, you find this charming little family run tappas restaurant. There are no seats, folks just stand around the bar and tall tables rather like a cocktail party. And that was exactly what it felt like.
Unlike your typical restaurants where people tend to stick to conversation amongst their own table, Quimet & Quimet was full of both locals and tourists chatting with each other. The table next to us even offered me a bite when I asked what something was! Everything we ordered was fabulous! And of course, we had Sangria to go along with it…I think that’s a prerequisite while in Barcelona! For more information on this wonderful find you can go to the Quimet & Quimet website.
Also, I should note that you will find the Metro located just outside the Hotel Barcelona Universal. Obviously a very convenient location. However, we ended up walking everywhere and taking a few cabs. The port is not far (though if you’re lugging bags with you, I suggest a cab) which was one of the reasons we chose Hotel Barcelona Universal. The cab ride was under ten euros.
I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Antoni Gaudí’s, Sagrada Família. It’s not located near the hotel, but you can take the Metro. Everyone’s taste differs of course, but in my opinion, Sagrada Famiia is the most amazing, fantastical, phenomenal cathedral in all the world. Well, of of those I’ve seen, and I’ve seen some pretty amazing cathedrals! It was inspired by nature and faith.
Gaudi was an architect with such a different way of seeing the world that it was the first time I’d been in a cathedral that felt so completely unique. It felt amazing to stand in the middle of history being made. It has been under construction since 1882 and is now in the final phase, with just another eleven years until completion.
Do yourself a favor when you are in Barcelona, make sure to visit the Sagrada Familia…and don’t just wander around the impressive outside, buy a ticket (I think they were around eight euros) and go inside this amazing masterpiece. Also, be sure to book your tickets early. With no tickets available the day we tried, we got lucky with entry tickets for the following day.
Hence, we visited around six pm, when the sun was coming from the West. Light filtered through the stained glass windows painted images of colorful flowers on the floor of the cathedral. It was the perfect time to go (keep in mind we were there in October). For more information on the cathedral and other Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, go to the Barcelona Tourist Guide.
We can’t wait to re-visit Barcelona and would be happy to stay at the Hotel Barcelona Universal once again.