Barcelona Hotel 54 Review

On May 31, 2011, in Travel, by admin

Forwarding our desire to arm travelers with the best information possible, I thought I would quickly review the hotel that I bunked down for 6 days in Barcelona, Spain.  This is in the neighborhood of Barceloneta, quite near the main beach of Barcelona.  In fact, for this property, it is all about location, location, location. For you Americans out there, this property is actually a franchise of the Best Western chain, although you would never know it by the property.  Located about 300 meters from the beach, it has a perfect location on Passieg de Joan de Borbo, the main artery of Barceloneta leading to the beach.  It is nestled among many shops and cafes. The property has been updated to a modest, but somewhat sleek contemporary design. A design that separates it from the many older looking buildings (mostly apartments) that surround it. There are just 28 rooms in this hotel. The rooms are Euro-small with little amenities. I had a basic room looking over Joan de Borbo, which many of their rooms do. Decorated in grey and a sort of off shaded blue, these rooms are a bit dark in the inside as is the halls leading to the rooms. However, the bed is comfortable, and the bathroom facilities, although once again, small, are very pleasant. Each room contains a flat screen TV of about 23″ for those of you who cannot bag your jet lag.

The staff is guarded but helpful. Now of course, Americans are not the most popular anywhere you travel these days, and you feel it here as well. It took several days for me to figure which of the staff at the front desk were the most helpful and out going. 3 to 4 days into it, three such staff warmed up and became most helpful in suggestions for dining, hanging, and assistance for tours. English is spoken fairly well at this hotel: a comfort for those Americans and many English speaking Euro countries who visit here.

Breakfast is included with the room for most pricing plans.  The breakfast is modest with cereals, yogurts, prepackaged croissants.  There was also the obligatory breakfast meets and cheeses popular in Europe. All was self serve with the exception of the coffee, which the single person manning the breakfast served directly upon request. Again, the serve was divided here, one person on several of the days did not speak a word and it was difficult to get her attention to get another coffee….and the remaining two days, it was manned by a person beaming with personality and a desire to assure you had enough coffee and breakfast. The breakfast area is small. Overflow people eat in the lobby chairs.

Now the star of this hotel is the roof top access, pictured to the left. This is a stunning view of Port Vell  and Barcelona city as well.  Very little used, this is a great place to take a bottle of wine up to relax and let the city slowly drift to sleep, under the ever presence of Monsarret in the top of the mountain in the distance. There is a bar area in the lobby for which you can get a drink if you can get the front desk to mix it (the bar does not have a bar tender), or if you bring your own wine, they will be happy to give you a glass and a cork screw to work your own magic.  Out of the six nights at this property, I spent three of them up here with my wine after sampling the fare of the cafes in the city below.

This place is not inexpensive.  I was at the beginning of the prime tourist season, and my room averaged 140E per night. They were completely booked the entire time. A quick check of their website HOTEL 54 yields similar rates. Again, this is all about location.

One of the criticisms is that the rooms tend to be a bit noisy as they face the main street.  I did not find this too annoying. There was some noise, but nothing that could not be dealt with.  If this is an issue for you, request a non-street facing room.

Do provide some calorie budget for the close by options to Hotel 54.  Not only is it in the center of Barceloneta with its many great cafes serving fresh seafood with more eyes staring back at you than you care to count, or great dishes of traditional paella, there is a gelato/ice cream shop beneath Hotel 54. Yes, I was here every night and loved it.

Overall, I highly recommend Hotel 54. This high recommendation does come with caveats. First, you must want to be a beach rat. This is all about its proximity to Barceloneta beach, the ports, the shopping mall in Port Vell, and the cafes.  Second, do be aware of the petty robberies. Barceloneta, with its high population of back packers (read young people without a job) is worse than usual for thieves. And these thieves prey on the hotels where they know tourists will be more venerable. Be aware.  I was not completely, and did get a back pack stolen in front of the hotel…….my bad, I guess, was not careful enough.  So this is a word to you who may take this recommendation.

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Barcelona By Day

On May 30, 2011, in Travel, by admin

Barcelona, Spain is a young city. No doubt. As you walk through the streets, the outdoor eateries, the clubs, the mall, whatever, this city is filled with 20 somethings. Since Spain overall has an unemployment rate of 45% for the age bracket of 16-24, this would certainly lend to petty crimes that are rampant here. But this youth results in a vibrant city. For sure, as you walk the streets during the day, you wonder who works in this city.  It matters not what day of the week or time of day. Cafes are filled with people, for coffee by day and drinks starting in the afternoon.

Barceloneta Beach

Walking the city is a great alternative to the many tours that are offered in Barcelona.  I stayed in the neighborhood of Barceloneta.  This used to be a fishing village before the tourism took over. This is a very scenic area for you beach types.  Surrounded by the Ports of Olympic and Vell on each end, these community is a series of open cafes and businesses catering to the locals and tourists. The beach extends about 3 kilometers from the funky designed building that houses the upscale W Hotel to the nice cafes (that turn into clubs with DJs at night) at the end by Port Olympic. Opium (click on club name for link to site) is one such club. A nice cafe by day overlooking the beach. It does not cater to those coming off the beach, rather, those that have come down for lunch or the  professional workers housed in nearby office buildings. At night, it is an all out night club.

Other areas of Barcelona to consider for walking is the Plaza Catalunya, on La Rambla.  This is reachable by the train and taxi alike, as it is basically the center of the city.  It is a great retail shopping and eatery district.  Great people watching. An outdoor market, La Boqueria is a huge market offering local meats, cheeses, and other fare.  You can easily spend a couple of hours here.

Another interesting part of the city is Barri Gotic.  This is old city Barcelona with Gothic architecture.  Again, a great area to roam and take in the people and sights.

As mentioned, there are tours available. Montserrat is one of the more popular.  This is a monastary that overlooks Barcelona.  If you go on your own, you can get there by train, then take the cable car to the top, but word of warning for those of you light in your Spanish skills, the cable car closes abruptly at 4:30 in non summer hours. Not sure of its schedule during the peak tourist season of June through August.

The Picasso museum is interesting.  Jaded man.  The tour will reveal that to you.

Do get by to see the Sagrada Familia, pictured below.  This has been under construction for years, and likely will never finish.  It is a weird structure (sporting the Gothic look)….with no apparent reason for being since you cannot get into it.

Barcelona by day is interesting if you wish to live like a local.  Of course, words of caution, carry little with you and beware of all around you…..pick pockets are experts here.  It is real safe except for this petty robbery issue. So be prepared at all times, especially on the crowded trains.

Also please note, as of this writing, Spain has been hampered by protest of these young people.  Again, due to the high unemployment and a rash of other ills, protesting is going on and could turn violent.  Be aware not to get swept up in this.

Funky Sagrada Familia

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