Tag Archive | Barcelona

Hotel Review: Hotel Barcarola (Van Der Valk Hotel Restaurant Barcarola)

Hotel Barcarola (Van Der Valk Hotel Restaurant Barcarola)

Hotel Barcarola (Van Der Valk Hotel Restaurant Barcarola)

As part of our Easter road trip, my partner and I drove to Costa Brava, Spain to enjoy the sea. We stayed at Hotel Barcarola in Sant Feliu de Guixols. We stayed in this hotel for 2 nights.

Location/Accessibility (4/5)

Sant Feliu de Guixols is an hour far from the busy and touristy Barcelona and about 30-minute drive from another tourist hot spot, Girona. I honestly don’t know how one can reach this area without a car or via public transportation. I see this as an advantage though as it really gives you a “city break experience”. With this, it will not be fair to give the hotel a low accessibility rating; therefore, location-wise, the hotel is conveniently located close to the beach. It is not immediately right next to the beach but it is like 60-seconds walk to the beach. I prefer this because the main street immediately right next to the beach or the beach front has the restaurants and bars. I imagine this can get pretty busy and loud in the summer.

Important note: the reception is located in the restaurant. I know that sounds weird but the reception, breakfast room and restaurant are detached from the actual hotel. The reception and the restaurant is located across the hotel and on a street corner and has a big sign. The parking area is just across the hotel’s restaurant/reception (it’s an open air/outdoor parking).

Hotel Barcarola's reception and restaurant

Rooms and Facilities (3/5)

We had the luxury room with balcony. It is by far the largest hotel room in Europe that I’ve stayed at.  It was clean and the bed was comfortable. The bathroom was huge too. I enjoyed the balcony as it gave us view of the sea.

What I didn’t like is that if you need water in the middle of the night, your only chance is the vending machine by the hotel entrance that didn’t work sometimes. I’m not sure if the reception can do that or if room service will be available (I highly doubt it). I guess that’s the inconvenience of having a detached bar, restaurant, reception, etc. If you need anything from them, you have to walk across the street.

Staff and Services (2.5/5)

The staff were very friendly. However, they seemed unorganized when we were there.

I also got a wine and bodega package to surprise my partner. According to the package, it includes a bottle of cava, a visit to a bodega (I assume that’s a cave or wine cellar) or an olive orchard and a “welcome drink” in their Tucan beach bar – which is located at the beachfront.

After checking in, I was expecting the cava in our room but there was none. I thought that maybe they will bring it tomorrow. We were also given 2 vouchers for the welcome drink in their Tucan beach bar. We asked if the bar has a particular opening hour, considering the siesta practice in Spain. The receptionist said the bar is open all day. It was 7 pm, which is too early for dinner in Spain so we decided to just grab an aperitif at the Tucan beach bar. It was close. The bar was closed the entire night. The following day, we mentioned to the reception that the bar was closed last night but she insisted that it was open. When the bar finally opened, we were told that the welcome drink is only beer. For non-beer drinkers, there goes your free drink.

When we checked in, I also asked the reception how the bodega or olive orchard tour works. The receptionist said we should just tell her when we want to do it and they will do the necessary arrangements. The following day, we told the reception we wanted to do the tour the next day. She explained to us that she’ll see if the olive orchard is open since it’s a holiday. I explained to her that we obviously paid extra for the package (room rate is from EUR 60 per night while we paid EUR 139 per night for the same type of room). Later on that day, the receptionist rang us to say that they’ve booked the tour, gave us the name of the olive orchard, was told that we can research the exact address in the internet or come by the reception and she’ll give us the flyer. So basically, the “olive orchard visit” in their package is just ringing up an orchard and you drive yourself to the place. The tour is free and the transportation is not provided… so, I don’t know what they charged us extra for.

Lastly, that bottle of cava almost didn’t happen. Again, I had to ask about it at late in the afternoon on our second day at the hotel. The reception told me I had to ask for it (they don’t automatically put it in the room).

Security (3/5)

Apparently, there was an access control on the hotel’s main entrance where guests have to use their room key cards. I only learned about it on our third day because the door just automatically opened in our entire stay.

Price (2.5/5)

According the hotel’s website, the average rate per night for their luxury room is EUR 60. We paid a total of EUR 278 for 2 nights or EUR 139 per night. For a 3-star hotel with a package that technically only had breakfast, 2 beers and a bottle of cava, it’s not a good deal.

Overall, I rate this hotel 3/5. It’s a nice 3-star hotel with a good location. It can potentially be a reasonable hotel – just don’t get the package. It’s not worth it.

Pascua en Barcelona (Day 1)

In case I have not said it enough, I love Barcelona! In my almost 3 years in Geneva, I’ve been to over 20 cities in Europe and I must say, Barcelona remains my favorite city in Europe. Maybe it is the historical and cultural link; maybe it is the gastronomic treat; maybe it is the warmness of the people; maybe because it is the combination of a big city and beach. Whatever it is, Barcelona reminds me of home.

I spent my Easter weekend this year in Barcelona. Since it was my second time to be in this lovely city, I really didn’t want to tour around – I just wanted to rest and relax. My plan was to get some sun while reading a book in Parc Guell or Montjuic, go on a food trip, and see Montserrat since I missed that one on my first visit.

It was too early… only half of my brain was working!

SwissMy flight from Geneva to Barcelona via Swiss was on Friday, 29th of March, at 7:15 am. I checked in online so, I thought leaving my apartment at 6:00 am should be enough (don’t get me wrong, I’m usually one of those who’d rather wait for 2 hrs in the airport to board than come in at the last minute but I’ve been very tired the entire week so I thought I could use more sleep). Good thing the cab arrived at 5:45 am, instead of 6:00 am, because it was total chaos in the Geneva airport. Of course, it was a long weekend! Everyone was flying out of Geneva! (What was I thinking?!) Good thing the Geneva Airport was quite prepared – at least in my opinion. Despite the extremely long queue at the security check, I got through after 15-20 minutes (with that kind of line, in the Philippines, it would’ve take me at least an hour to pass through security).

I checked the departure board and saw that the gate for the flight to Barcelona is on the other side of the world. I told myself I was okay as I had at least 40 more minutes. After 20 minutes of walking and avoiding running people, when I was about to reach the gate, a girl asked me if she was on the right gate. She showed me her ticket and it’s Barcelona, departing at 7:00 am, via… Easyjet. I thought “crap! Swiss will never depart or land in this crappy part of the airport!” I looked at the departure board again and saw that the Swiss flight to Barcelona was on the other side of the airport, which was just after the security check. Thus, I had to run all the way back, with barely 20 minutes to spare. I reached the gate just as the passengers started boarding.

Lessons learned? Do not underestimate the queues at the Geneva airport, especially during long weekends. Also, when checking the departure board, double check the airline. Lastly, no matter what happens, I need to have coffee before heading out because only half of my brain tends to work at those early hours of the morning!

The Chic Hotel

Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona

Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona

The plane landed in Barcelona at around 8:30 am but I decided to stick around in the airport because I noted that there were several flights who landed a little earlier than ours – meaning, the queue for the aerobus will be quite long. I did some window shopping, got maps and a Barcelona card at the tourism office, and stopped buy a café for my second cup of coffee. After an hour, the airport seemed to have calmed down a bit, so I left the airport (true enough, there were few people lining up for the aerobus by that time). Travel time from the airport to Plaça Catalunya (where my hotel was) was around 30 minutes.

You know you love a city when you remember every detail of it from your first visit. Though it has been almost 2 years since my first visit in Barcelona, I didn’t need a map to get to my hotel. I knew exactly where to find my hotel.

I stayed in Hotel Pulitzer – I love this hotel! Although their check-in is at 2 pm, my room was ready by 11:00 am so, they allowed me check-in early. Once in my room, I did a video call with my mom and sister then rested for a bit.

Click here to see more about my experience with Hotel Pulitzer.

My Favorite Tapas Bar

grilled veal, fried salted green peppers, and a glass of rosé - my first batch of tapas at Cerveceria Catalana

grilled veal, fried salted green peppers, and a glass of rosé – my first batch of tapas at Cerveceria Catalana

For lunch, I started walking through the street of Ramblas de Catalunya to look for the best tapas bar I went to during my last visit… and I found it! Cerveceria Catalana is my favorite tapas bar in Barcelona! Good thing I came early enough to get a table in minutes because 15 minutes after I sat down, the waiting list started getting longer.

Click here to see how my lunch went in Cerveceria Catalana.

Taking the Bus

After having lunch at my favorite tapas bar, I decided to go to Montjuic to have a panoramic view of Barcelona.  I know when people ask on the best way to go from one landmark or another; they will tell you to take the metro – because that’s the fastest and easiest. I did that the last time and I realized, that you don’t exactly see anything when you are underground! So for this trip, I decided to take the bus, instead of the metro. By taking the bus, I saw not just the touristy part of Barcelona but the other parts of Barcelona as well.

Montjuic

View of the castle courtyard in Montjuic

View of the castle courtyard in Montjuic

From Plaça Catalunya, I took bus 55 which took me up to the cable car station.

During my first visit, I went to Montjuic to see a flamenco show (and have dinner) at El Tablao de Carmen Amaya in Poble Espanyol and watched the Magic Fountain. For this visit, I took the cable car and went up to Castell de Monjuic.  You don’t necessarily need to take the cable car to go up to the castle as I found the ticket to be a bit pricy – you can walk (quite a hike though) or take bus 50.

A panoramic view of Barcelona

A panoramic view of Barcelona

As the weather was really good that afternoon, I only looked around for short time and just sat by the castle courtyard (then I eventually transferred to the park) to read a book. There weren’t so many people in the area so it was a perfect relaxing afternoon for me. After a couple of hours, I started feeling exhausted from my lack of sleep so I headed back to my hotel.

Wrapping Up My Day

A kir and a book on the roof top of Hotel Pulitzer

A kir and a book on the roof top of Hotel Pulitzer

I wrapped up my day by having a kir at the hotel’s lovely terrace. I was thinking of going out for dinner but I was too tired to leave the hotel. After relaxing at the terrace, I went back to my room and ordered a club sandwich. The food was okay but it was too big (or maybe I was just too tired) that I only finished a quarter of it. I started watching a movie from my ipad but I immediately dozed off.

It was indeed a fantastic day 1!

Up Next: For day 2, I went out of Barcelona to check out the famous Montserrat in the morning, then I went on a food trip at the Boqueria!

Ciao! (for now)

~I.

CERVECERIA CATALANA: My All-Time Favorite

tapas at Cerveceria CatalanaCerveceria Catalana

Carrer de Mallorca 236

Barcelona, Spain

 

It was my second time to visit Barcelona, my favorite city in Europe, so I skipped the sight-seeing and decided to just relax and… eat. One thing about Barcelona is that you cannot visit this lovely city without having tapas, sangria, and cava. In Barcelona, I’ve only gone to a proper retaurant (and ate proper meal) 3-4x because I just enjoy the concept of tapas. I love the fact that I can have 3-4 different varieties of dishes in 1 meal, served in small portions (well, not exactly small because some dishes are good for 2 persons).

 

Since tapas are a must when in Barcelona, expect that all tourist areas, especially along La Rambla and Rambla de Catalunya, are packed with tapas bar. If you don’t know where to go, it can be pretty overwhelming and there’s a chance that you’ll end up in a mediocre, pricy tapas bar. Here, enters my favorite tapas bar in Barcelona, the Cerveceria Catalana.

 

Location (4/5)

Cerveceria Catalana is located at Carrer de Mallorca 236. Coming from Placa Catalunya, walk up to Ramblas de Catalunya (not La Ramba, the street directly opposite to it). It is a bit of a walk but Ramblas de Catalunya is a calmer version of La Rambla but full of shops and restaurants – I actually enjoy walking along this street more than La Rambla. On your left, you will eventually see a MAC store (the make-up brand, not the apple) – that would be Carrer de Mallorca. The tapas bar is just 2 establishments next to the MAC store. If you happen to reach the metro station for Diagonal, then better turn around because you’ve already missed it by 2-3 blocks.

 

Food (5/5)

Choosing a tapas bar is not the only overwhelming part you will go through on a tapas adventure. Choosing among the dishes in the menu and/or infront of you, for me, it is the most overwhelming yet exciting part. At Cerveceria Catalana, if you sit by the bar, right in front of the tapas, there is a high chance of you leaving the place in foodcoma.

For this visit at Cerveceria Catalana, I actually (and shamelessly) had 6 dishes (including a dessert). I had the fried green peppers, perfectly grilled veal, gambas, calamares, fried mozzarella, and their house cake.

TIP: Out of all the tapas I’ve tried here, I highly recommend the fried green peppers (wherever tapas bar you go, you cannot not have the fried green peppers), the veal, the shrimps, and the fried mozzarella (this one is perfect before heading on to your dessert plate).

 

Ambiance (3.5/5)

One thing about this tapas bar is it is quite famous. Therefore, this place is always packed. The first time I came here, I sat by the bar and it was quite noisy, in a festive way. In my last visit, I managed to get a seat outside, which was way better for me – I didn’t notice the chaos inside plus I like people watching. Keep in mind that tapas bar are not exactly restaurants, they are bars.

 

Price (4.5/5)

 With my 6 dishes, a glass of rosé, and a bottle of water with gas, my total bill was like € 21.00. I say, not bad at all! Their tapas range from € 3-11. Some of the tapas, such as the fried green peppers and the calamares are good for 2 persons (at least in my opinion). In one of the tapas bar in La Boqueira, I paid roughly € 16 for 3 tapas and a bottle of fizzy water.

 

Service (4.5/5)

 I’m a little bit biased on this part because one of the things I love about this tapas bar is the Filipino servers. They have always been friendly, engaging, and helpful with thier recommendations to me. However I noticed how other customers were pretty satisfied with their services as well. In fact, with my very little comprehension on Spanish, I noticed that they have a lot of local regulars based on their interactions with the bar staff.  Also, considering their volume of customers, I say they’re pretty quick in taking orders and delivering them to our tables.

 

Overall (4.3/5)

Cerveceria Catalana is not to be missed! This tapas bar remains to be my favourite among all the tapas bars I’ve tried in Barcelona. The quality of food they have is such a treat to those who travel for the love of food.

 They don’t take reservations so be warned of long queues during peak hours. I came in at around 13.00H, I only had to wait for 5 minutes to get a table outside. However, 10 minutes after I was seated, people started coming in and I heard they would have to wait up to 45 mins to get a table. Yikes! But don’t throw a fit if this happens to you. Remember, this is quite a small but popular bar so avoid peak hours if possible. My wild guess for their peak hours would be 13.30h onwards as Spaniards have their lunch quite late.

HOTEL REVIEW: Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona, Spain

Hotel Pulitzer GenevaBarcelona remains my favorite city in Europe… so far. I spent my Easter weekend there with only one thing planned – rest. Okay, I didn’t really just stay in my hotel and slept the whole 3 days. For that travel, I only wanted to see the Montserrat, the Montjuic castle, and Park Guell. It was my second time to visit Barcelona and I’ve practically seen the major tourist sites. So for me, when I was looking through the possible hotels that I’ll be saying at, I only had 2 C’s in mind – comfort and convenience. I chose Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona, a 4-star hotel located in the heart of Barcelona.

Location/Accessibility (5/5)

The Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona is located at C/ Bergara, 8 – 08002 Barcelona. This hotel has probably the most convenient location in Barcelona that one could hope for. To get to the hotel from the airport, just take the Aerobus (a single ticket costs EUR 5.90, tickets can be bought through a machine nearby or through the bus driver) and get off at Plaça Catalunya. From the Aerobus station, walk directly to the other side, cutting through Plaça Catalunya. The street between the FNAC and BBV buildings is Carrer Bergara. The hotel is probably about 100m from Plaça Catalunya.

The importance of being right next to Plaça Catulunya is the accessibility to public transportation and shops. Plaça Catalunya is a major metro station and buses going to popular areas stop here. Right next to the hotel is also an ATM and a Starbucks (well, I always like trying out the Starbucks in different countries/areas and compare the difference). The hotel is about 3-5 minute walk from the famous La Rambla and Rambla de Catalunya.

Rooms and Facilities (4/5)

Standard Double Room - Hotel Pulitzer BarcelonaI had a Standard Double room at the third floor. The bed, the linens, and the pillows were really comfy – just the way I wanted them to be. The room, including the bathroom, was spacious and chic. I was welcomed with 2 complimentary bottles of water and mini squares of dark chocolates (maybe not the case for everyone but I actually appreciate these little details). Also, I usually don’t use hotel soaps as they usually tend to smell like cheap hotel soaps, but the soaps they have smelled really good that I actually used them. They also have complimentary his and her mini toiletries package, which I found perfect since I forgot to bring my comb and they had one in their mini package. Things in the room include a safe, an air conditioning, slippers, hair dryer, full-length mirror (very important!), television, a phone, and wifi (it was pretty fast but not fast enough to watch live streaming… at least in my experience).

My only comment, about the room was the noise. There were guests, probably in the same floor as mine, who would slam their doors shut and I could really hear it. Also, I heard the footsteps of the guests above my room, especially when I was in the bathroom, quite loudly. I only noted these noises as a comment and not exactly a complaint because I’m not fuzzy on these things. However, to be fair to those who are particularly sensitive to such noises, I decided to give this category a 4 instead of perfect 5.

My favorite part of this hotel was the terrace. During my short stay, my favorite part of the day was going to the terrace late afternoon with my book and a glass of kir or cava. There weren’t so many people who hanged out in the terrace so it was an absolute tranquility. I would stay there for hours, until it was already too dark to read. Although perhaps in the summer, when the terrace bar is open, it has more of a party mood than a relaxing one.

If I read it correctly, the pool and the gym are located in another building but you can ask the receptionist for an entrance card and it is for free. They also have bicycles for rent (I think they are roughly EUR 18 per person– I can be wrong). Lastly, I tried their breakfast once – it was okay, not bad but nothing special.

Staff and Services (5/5)

When it comes to staff and services, Hotel Pulitzer is currently my favorite! Every single one of them is really friendly and accommodating. I honestly felt so spoiled by the hotel staff.

The receptionists were very friendly and helpful. They automatically gave me a map and an interesting book on a gastronomic tour in Barcelona. They also offered to book reservations for the restaurants that I am going to. The hotel is also in some sort of a partnership with a tour agency called Julia Travels. They have several tour options at cheaper costs compared to the other guided tour companies that I’ve seen in the internet. The receptionist booked my tour to Montserrat and that was honestly a big help for me.

The restaurant and bar staff were also very service-oriented and friendly. They talk to you with a smile on their faces – something that, after being in Geneva for almost 3 years, looks unusual.

Security (4/5)

The location of the hotel, for me, is generally a safe area. I also noticed that at some time of the day, Hotel Pulitzer has security personnel outside, by the door. If not a Hotel Pulitzer security guard, I would see a guard in front of Hotel Regina Barcelona, sister hotel of Pulitzer and is located immediately next to it.

The reception area, manned 24/7, is located next to the entrance door which allows the reception staff to see everyone coming in and going out of the hotel. I quickly peeked at the emergency exit/stairs and it was wider than any hotels that I’ve been through before.

I’m not sure if the bar at the terrace is accessible to non-guests, when open. If it is open to non-guests, I’d be concern on the access to the floors/rooms.

Price (4/5)

I got my room for two nights at EUR 378.80 (VAT included), which is normally EUR 473.00. For me, considering the location, quality, and service in the hotel, it was a pretty good price. If you are up for a relaxing time in Barcelona, this hotel is worth trying.

TIP: Try booking a reservation at the Hotel’s website at least 21 days before your actual stay – they give out 20% discount (it’s an advance payment and non-refundable though). For some reason, the price in the hotel’s website is a little cheaper than the other hotel booking sites.

Cleanliness (5/5)

Total   : 4.5/5 – The Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona is definitely a hotel worth trying when in Barcelona if you are looking for a convenient, comfortable, and relaxing hotel.

Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona's Terrace

Hotel website: http://www.hotelpulitzer.es/en