Ciutat Vella location near the Mediterranean, and a 10-minute walk to the trendy El Born district
Drassanes Metro station five minutes away on foot
Rooms come with mini-fridges, air-conditioning, safes, and flat-screen TVs with satellite channels
Bathrooms are sleek with modern fixtures
Breakfast buffet with hot and cold items included in some room rates
Reading room under a glass atrium
On-site meeting room can accommodate up to 30 people
Laundry and dry cleaning services are available
24-hour front desk provides concierge services
Wi-Fi is free throughout
Street-facing rooms can be noisy
Unpleasant smells have been reported in air-conditioning and plumbing
Twin beds pushed together to make a double
Evident wear and tear throughout
The 78-room mid-range Hotel Medinaceli, about a five-minute walk to the sea and the lower end of Las Ramblas, is housed in the old palace of the dukes of Medinaceli. The hotel’s historic palace building is impressive in many ways, and several classic details have been preserved in the common areas, but rooms don't quite live up to this elegance, although some have Juliet balconies, and bathrooms are sleekly modern. A hot and cold breakfast buffet is included in some room rates and there's a beautiful reading room under a glass atrium. Guests might want to consider the Hotel Constanza in Eixample, which has more modern rooms and a lovely rooftop terrace and artful details throughout at a similar price point as the Medinaceli.
Clashing styles amid historical palace setting with some preserved features
Within the stone walls of the former palace of the dukes of Medinaceli, the hotel fits right in amid the buildings of the Ciutat Vella, or old city. The lobby is bright and frenetic, with a blend of wild retro furniture (think red vinyl lip-shaped sofas) atop Oriental carpets, abutting Japanese cherry blossom canvases all set about marble floors, light-wood features, and elevator banks. Deeper inside the hotel, the palatial quality shines through more vividly, especially in the soaring light-filled atrium with Gothic chairs on warm wood floors, archways, and original stone walls. A swooping suspension staircase vaults toward the ceiling and carves interesting shapes against the classical lines of the atrium, and several marble-lined grand hallways on the ground floor are lined with antique furniture. The only other common areas in the hotel are a reading room, which sits at the top of the atrium but isn’t attractively furnished, and an unremarkable breakfast room. Guests here are mostly couples, though some families and business travelers also pass through.
Ciutat Vella, near sea and within a five-minute walk of Las Ramblas
Situated across from a small, palm-filled plaza, this hotel is an excellent base for exploring many of Barcelona’s historic sights on foot (the beach is a 10- to 15-minute walk away). The lower end of Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas pedestrian thoroughfare is within a five-minute walk, while the boutiques and trendy nightlife of El Born district are a 10-minute walk, with the beautiful Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, in the other direction. The Cathedral of Barcelona is within a 15-minute walk through the streets of the Ciutat Vella. The Drassanes metro station is five minutes from the hotel’s front door, putting the rest of the city within easy reach. The Aerobus to El Prat International Airport takes 40 minutes from Plaza Espanya by connecting via metro, while a taxi will make the same trip in 15 to 20 minutes, depending on traffic.
Rooms could use a refresh, but bathrooms are sleek and modern.
The confused aesthetic of the hotel’s public areas carries over to the guest rooms. Initially, rooms seem quaintly retro, with light- wood veneer furniture, white marble floors, and rust-orange accent walls that match vintage-style seating. Contemporary dark-wood headboards start to muddy that effect, though, and the cheap motel-style comforters on the underwhelming beds do nothing to improve the rooms’ style — not to mention the visible wear-and-tear throughout the rooms. Guests should keep in mind that double beds are simply twin beds shoved together, often without joiners or appropriate double-bed linens. All rooms have key-access safes, mini-fridges, desks, flat-screen TVs, and air-conditioning, as well as contemporary square lamps on the walls and nightstands. Street-facing rooms have lovely Juliet balconies looking onto the plaza, and rooms on higher floors may be able to see the Mediterranean, but all street-facing rooms pick up noise from the street and plaza outside. Bathrooms have been renovated and, unlike the rooms, are sleek and stylish. Black tiles contrast with white marble floors, while raised sinks and toilets are brand new, but towels could be better. Bathrooms come with a limited selection of toiletries and have either narrow walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads or bathtub/shower combos; some dirty grout is visible. Past guests have complained about unpleasant smells in the air-conditioning and bathrooms, largely attributed to extremely old plumbing in this part of the city, and interior rooms have windows looking onto the hallways, and get almost no natural light.
A breakfast buffet is served every day with hot and cold choices in the hotel’s breakfast room — a bright but not very stylish space with a hand-painted floral motif that clashes with the red vinyl chairs that are seen in other areas of the hotel. Breakfast is free for guests who book directly through the hotel’s website, as are a few other perks, including a welcome fruit basket and the possibility of a late check out. The hotel has a 24-hour front desk, and staff can arrange tour bookings and reserve taxis, though guests should be aware that extra fees will be passed along. An on-site meeting room can accommodate up to 30 people. Much of the historic architecture has been preserved in the meeting room, but the equipment and furniture have seen better days. Room service is available, and laundry and dry cleaning can be arranged. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel.