If you’ve been to Spain before but planning your first visit to Barcelona, throw out everything you think you know about Spanish life and be prepared for it to feel like a totally different country. Your hub definitely needs to be the IBEROSTAR Paseo de Gracia and this review will explain why.
Thanks to IBEROSTAR, I had the pleasure of staying in the best Barcelona hotel and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Location. OMG, the location. Insert ALL of the exclamation points here! When you start mapping out your Barcelona trip, you’ll quickly learn that overall it’s a very walkable city. This is made infinitely easier and more efficient when you’re at the centre of it all. And the IBEROSTAR Paseo de Gracia is just that. This hotel looks out onto Placa de Catalunya (a.k.a. Plaza Cataluña), which is the beginning of Las Ramblas, and sits just a few metres from Paseo (Passeig) de Gracia — by far the most impressive shopping street in Barcelona.
From here, we walked pretty much everywhere with the exception of the cable car area over near Fundació Joan Miró and Park Güell— both of which are on complete opposite sides of the city, each near the outskirts of Barcelona. While we clocked up some serious kilometres each day, it didn’t feel onerous. The longest trek was from the IBEROSTAR Paseo de Gracia to the far end of La Barceloneta Beach, which took about 30 minutes or so on foot.
And when we didn’t feel like walking (or had less walking-friendly shoes on, or because it was 5 a.m.), catching the Metro (subway), a Barcelona BusTuristic (hop-on/off bus) or taxi was easy and inexpensive.
We visited a few other local luxury hotels during our trip and there wasn’t one that was in a better location than the IBEROSTAR Paseo de Gracia for total city exploration. Honestly.
Although this hotel isn’t classed as a five-star property, it comes damn close. It offers a variety of rooms for different budgets, including two suites that each occupy an entire floor. They’re exquisite to say the least.
My double city-view room had everything a single traveller or couple would want in a big city hotel: plenty of storage space (props to the IBEROSTAR design team for using the space incredibly well), a minibar, a rain shower with amazing water pressure and a never-ending supply of hot water, stunning décor and a spectacular view.
Even the interior-facing rooms — the least expensive, and common in a city like Barcelona where the buildings have been constructed as squares with a central common area — have an interesting view with care taken to ensure every guest experience is a good one.
Attention to detail flows right down into guest amenities. I always test a new hotel by asking for a razor at reception, and the IBEROSTAR front desk promptly offered me a shave kit. But perhaps my favourite detail of all was the egg carton-style toiletries set in the bathroom, filled with lotion, body wash, shampoo and conditioner — and decent sizes of each at that. The presentation was just so cute and felt very high-end.
The IBEROSTAR Paseo de Gracia features one of only a small handful of rooftop pools in Barcelona. There’s also a fully stocked and staffed bar up there, and guests are welcome at any of the private parties that might be held up there from one night to the next. We were fortunate to attend four different private parties during our one-week stay!
The pool and lounge area, while on the smaller side, is elegant and upscale — reminiscent of Miami Beach style with European flare. It can be tough to secure a lounger or sun bed if you don’t go early in the day, but grab a towel from your room and clear your own space on the deck while you wait.
Trust me when I tell you that the young Italian bartenders on-hand will be only too happy to serve you a yummy cocktail both day and night. Big shout outs to Fabio, Federico and Antonio for making a bunch of old birds feel fabulous all week!
PRO TIPS: Ask Fabio to make the espresso martini with lemon peel; ask Federico to make the passionfruit martini that’s not on the menu; and ask Antonio to record your phone’s alarm because his voice is the thing of dreams.
Speaking of staff, we encountered nothing but gracious, charming employees from the front desk to housekeeping to the restaurant. They always came from a place of “yes.”
In my experience with IBEROSTAR properties both in Spain and the Caribbean, the food is always excellent. It’s one of the brand pillars and it came as no surprise that the food at the IBEROSTAR Paseo de Gracia was top notch.
Breakfast is included with your Bed & Breakfast hotel stay and the morning buffet is full of beautiful meats, cheeses, fruits, oatmeal (with sooooo many toppings), pastries (the croissants are OUTSTANDING) and freshly squeezed orange juice. Then there’s also a menu available for a la carte eggs, and you can’t go wrong.
My favourite dish was the eggs Benedict with Iberian ham. Just say yes to All The Iberian Ham!
Lunch and dinner share the same (albeit delicious, somewhat limited) menu, so consider using the restaurant for convenience rather than city dining. After all, you’re only a short walk from many of Barcelona’s best restaurants. I really enjoyed the IBEROSTAR’s take on a classic Caeser salad and the salmon dish was divine. If you’re looking for something hearty, add cheese and bacon to the Ox burger (and know going into it that it’s beef, not ox).
I went to the gym during my stay at the IBEROSTAR Paseo de Gracia and was delighted to find small towels and bottled water readily available. The gym is quite small and could be better air conditioned, but it has everything you need to stay on track if you’re a workout regular. There’s a treadmill, an elliptical, an upright bike and a recumbent bike, plus a multi-use weights machine (though personally, I would rather see a TRX strap and a wall of free weights in that space, but we can’t get everything we want in life, right!?).
In terms of cost, during high season, you’re looking at a starting rate of around $275 (Canadian) per night. In my opinion, for a European hotel of this caliber in this kind of location, that’s a STEAL.
I’ma just need another minute to swoon over the location. It was epic. Plus, you can’t beat the view at night…
Lighting for makeup was not ideal; I kept taking the closeup mirror over to the window’s natural light to ensure my makeup application was going OK. Don’t get me wrong: the lighting is AWESOME for photos/selfies and you’ll look like an airbrushed celebrity under them…they’re gorgeous for that…just not great for doing one’s makeup.
Pillows were fine at the IBEROSTAR Paseo de Gracia, but I prefer to have a pillow menu because I’m a diva that way. There were six pillows on my bed, so making my customary Pillow Kingdom was easy to do. I just like fluffier pillows for my awkward side-to-tummy sleeping position.
My sink drained very slowly for most of the week and hardly at all on my last day. I’m sure if I’d said something it would have been taken care of, but it wasn’t a big enough deal to bother.
The pancakes were the only disappointing thing that I tried during six breakfasts. They lacked any doughy rise, they were small and doused in powdered sugar. I bet my kids would have loved them, but if you’re a pancake connoisseur, you’ll probably want to pass until they have a new recipe.
At the time of writing, the elevators were very slow. But I have it on good authority that those are being tended to shortly and the speeds will improve. This is obviously part of redoing an older property, so if you arrive before the new infrastructure is in place, consider yourself warned.